From education to employment

Academy is winner of South East regional award

An academy set up to help people run businesses in creative industries is a regional winner of Enterprising Britain 2007. Slough Creative Academy, which has helped create 30 businesses, is the South East of England winner of the award.

The Academy was set up in 2003 through The European Union’s Equal Programme to help address Slough’s ever-increasing skills gap, which particularly impacts local ethnic minority groups and offers training in film, dance, and music as well as NVQs, degree level courses and work experience placements.

It has transformed the fortunes of people who want to build their careers in the arts and has worked with over 5,000 people in the town. And its success is more good news for the town which has suffered a decline in its manufacturing industries. The local economy has since flourished due to growth in its service sector and the Thames Valley region is now one of Europe’s top five business locations and many of the world’s top 50 companies have bases in the town. It is also becoming a base for the film industry, with Pinewood, Ealing, Shepperton and Beaconsfield studios nearby.

As well as educational programmes, the academy offers people who want to set up on their own one-to-one business advice, funding and on-going support. The Fusion Dance Company, Full Circle Films, Two Left Feet and Resource Productions are just a few of the set-ups helped into business by the academy.

Dominique Oliver set up Resource Productions after studying film there. Her company specializes in providing video production workshops to young people and community groups. She said she found the continuing support of the Academy invaluable in running her business.

She said: “As well as providing funding, they have helped me generate new business by helping me to network with other companies. Their injection of support has been fantastic and has really helped turn my business into a success.”

The academy was a finalist in the Municipal Journal’s Community Initiative of the Year Awards 2004 and will now go on to Enterprising Britain 2007 Awards” national finals.

Julie Kapsalis, Head of Enterprise Culture praised its latest achievement. She said: “SEEDA is delighted to recognise the success of the Creative Academy in Slough and its impact on the local economy. Their innovative approach to enterprise and the creative sector has seen real opportunities created for young people in Slough. From dance to film making, the Creative Academy has worked with a host of local community partners to break down some of Slough toughest barriers and fears to employment. The project has had a major impact in ensuring that higher numbers of skilled young people enter employment.”

Hardip Sidhu

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