Big Creative Education offers young people from the Waltham Forest area the chance to re-engage with education and pursue a career in the creative industries.
A Charity Bank loan enabled the social enterprise to purchase a building for its new creative co-working space. Founder and Managing Director Alexis Michaelides talks about this latest project and the benefits of social investment.
“I was running my own music events management business when I was approached to teach a course to young people from the local area. This was the start of Big Creative Education and over the past twenty years we’ve grown from one class into a multi-campus enterprise with more than 600 students. We now run courses spanning the creative industries, from music performance to event management, fashion and games design.
“Our mission is to provide access to inspirational teaching and career pathways for young people aged 16 and over who might have struggled to engage with mainstream education. We aim to equip them with the confidence, skills and enthusiasm to pursue a career in the creative industries, the fastest growing sector in the UK.
“We’re always looking at ways to help our students continue their education or career path and ultimately find work in the industry. In 2013 we developed Big Creative Academy, which is a free academy where students can gain A-level equivalent qualifications and can go on to higher education.
“Our latest initiative is Creative Works. Due to open late October, Creative Works is a co-working space near our campus where companies from the creative industries can come to benefit from a dynamic place to work, connect and thrive. The philosophy of Big Creative Education will also run throughout this space. Our Talent Incubator will offer support to startup creative businesses and our apprenticeship scheme will offer free desk space to anyone who takes on an apprentice.
“The Greater London Authority agreed to fund 50% of the project on the condition that we find 50% from social investment. This was when we were introduced to Charity Bank, who partnered with Big Issue Invest to support our project. This has been my first experience of social investment and it’s really opened my eyes to what’s available out there. Through Charity Bank we’ve not only received a loan but have been introduced to a whole network of organisations that offer additional support that goes beyond funding.
“As an enterprise with a social mission, it’s obviously preferable for us to work with a lender like Charity Bank who shares our values. Charity Bank are really transparent with where they invest and it’s really great to see we’re just one of many positive projects they are supporting.”