Nottingham Lakeside Arts at the University of Nottingham has been awarded £293,315 in funding from the Office for Students to encourage and enable its students to pursue a career in the creative industries.

The funding for this ground-breaking and collaborative project will support the delivery of an annual Creative Pathways programme – the first of a new and exciting enterprise of grants.

Originating from the Office for Students’ Challenge Competition fund, this new programme of funding from Creative Pathways offers two key strands for students qualifying through the University’s Widening Participation agenda – internships for graduates; and the delivery of a ‘Creative Academy’ for undergraduates, featuring talks by inspirational thought-leaders in the creative sector, workshops with visiting creatives, and opportunities to engage with regional cultural sector leaders, all aimed to upskill and inform students of the potential for good careers in the cultural sector.

The creative industry sector is one the fastest growing parts of the UK economy, valued at £101bn annually, and new research from the Creative Industries Federation show that offering the right sort of support could unlock even more significant growth.

Shona Powell, Director of Nottingham Lakeside Arts, said: “We are delighted to receive this new tranche of funding which will enable us to build on our enormously successful track record of operating externally sponsored internships.

“We’ve seen a number of previous Lakeside interns go on to occupy leadership positions and all are clear that their internship was integral to develop vocationally-relevant practical skills and sector-relevant knowledge, helping them to secure permanent positions within the creative industries.

“This generous backing will allow us to upscale our internship programme and to create a collaborative learning community, and encourage new and exciting opportunities to retain graduate talent in our region.”

Creative Pathways will aim to deliver internships across seven of Nottingham’s cultural organisations – City Arts, Dance 4, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Playhouse, Nonsuch Theatre, UNESCO City of Literature and Lakeside Arts.

Its launch of a new Creative Academy will seek to address a lack of knowledge or good careers in the cultural sector in part caused by a continued period of declining support and delivery of creative subjects at secondary school level.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the Office for Students, said:

“This funding will help universities and colleges find ways to remove barriers to local graduate employment, broaden the choice for those local graduates, and help ensure that students are getting the right skills to enter rewarding work.

“It’s good news for graduates, universities and local employers in search of highly-skilled, work-ready graduates.”

Launching in May 2019 and with student engagement from October 2019, Creative Pathways will work closely with the University’s Widening Participation and Careers & Employability teams to identify and target the student beneficiaries. The internships will be open to applications from University of Nottingham students who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Arrived at University from low progression neighbourhoods and/or schools which have not a strong record of progression to higher education
  • Have a disability
  • Attended Sutton Trust and/or Nottingham Potential Summer Schools
  • Are care leavers
  • From areas of high levels of socio-economic deprivation

All those engaging with the scheme – 21 interns and 450 Creative Academy Participants over three years – will benefit longer term through access to the Creative Pathways Learning and Support Network. This will enable a virtuous cycle of delivery and support across the three years of the programme, whereby an alumni network of graduate interns can contribute to the Creative Academy programme and in turn become mentors for future interns.