Jennifer Barrett Q&A: This Is Creative Enterprise


Our Creative Engagement Officer Kate, recently spoke to Jennifer Barrett about her work in forming TICE, which offers young people professional development opportunities within the creative, design and digital sector.

Kate: Hi Jennifer! Could you tell me a little about your background in the creative industries and how you came to establish TICE?

Jen: Hello Kate, so, I started TICE in 2008 after a career in the fashion industry. I was asked quite regularly to come into schools, colleges and universities to talk about my fashion business and I noticed a real lack of understanding in regard to the fashion sector and especially in younger people not grasping the breadth of job roles in the industry. From then, I went onto to devise one-day workshops to give a better understanding of a career in fashion and basically it went from there. TICE organically grew from ad-hoc workshops into a fully structured programme and now we’ve supported over 3,000 young people to explore career options in a vast range of creative industries.

Kate: Can you tell me what TICE is focusing on, post COVID restrictions being lifted and how has this impacted your work with Secondary Schools?

Jen: Before the pandemic, TICE was a purely face-to-face organisation and we delivered workshops throughout the North of England. When Covid hit our shores, we quickly adapted and developed an online version of our programme and I’m delighted to say it was successfully received by the students who participated. Now, we are offering a hybrid programme, we have some elements of our programme that work better online so we have kept this and of course, now returning to face-to-face workshops so we can complement the online provision. It has turned really well and probably given us the push we needed. Now we are not only delivering in the Northeast but in international schools worldwide.

Kate: Highlights has a Young Promoters Scheme which I’ve been talking to you about recently and our work with young people intersects with some of the opportunities TICE provides. What do you feel are the main challenges we face, in our large Northern Counties, in getting our message out to young people?

Jen: The creative industries are not a linear career path and I think this is a problem for young people to understand let alone their parents (if they are not aligned to the creative industries themselves). When talking to young people about a portfolio career this is something completely new to them and something which is not talked about much in schools. It can be difficult to break down misconceptions about the creative sector and move away from the starving artist or failing musician that can be portray. All industries are competitive yet for some reason a creative role seems to be perceived as more risky and very randomly “vocational” – which is the silliest explanation ever. It’s a testament to how hard creative students work and the lack of recognition this can get, for example, someone doing fashion will not only be developing academic and theoretical analysis skills but also expected to showcase practical and artistic skills too. In many “core academic subjects” that breadth of skill is not expected nor even developed.

Kate: The Creative Industries is wide ranging and incorporates architecture, gaming and IT, marketing, film and television, libraries, museums and more, alongside the many roles within theatre, music, fine art and design and dance. There is so much high-quality work happening across Cumbria, the North East and County Durham. Do you think organisations and schools can do more in this recovery period, to signpost young people towards opportunities that could lead them into inspiring careers?

Jen: That’s a hard question, I think many schools and organisations are seeing the opportunities yet there’s little to no budget in their departments to pay for these opportunities. It’s whether a school gives a rounded experience to their students and places as much emphasis on the creative departments as they would the science faculty. Many don’t.

You can read more about This Is Creative Enterprise here.

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