The WEA sees creativity as being central to the social, economic and cultural development of Northern Ireland. The Creative Industries are also one of the fundamental strands of the WEA.
During the last ten years since the "Unlocking Creativity" document (2002) started this agenda, the WEA has persistently developed its already existing Creative Learning programme, by including the Creative Industries in the following ways
- Writing over forty courses in both practical and professional skills required to develop this growing area. Courses mostly focus on sector support and encourage incubation of inspiration, innovation, individuality, talent, together with the development of technologies.
- The innovative conference "Creativity Thirst" in 2004: first of its kind, to kick-start a new approach to the creative industries.
- Received a National Training Award in 2007 for Technical Theatre and Performance Skills in partnership with the Alley Theatre and Strabane District Council.
- The development of a pre-business, sector support programme called "Creativity Thirst", which has been completed by almost 100 students from across the province who want to make money from their creativity. Outcomes have included: participants selling their work to both local and international markets, setting up businesses and developing a network to nurture talent.
The WEA's definition of the Creative Industries is:
The Creative Industries are made up of a range of skills including advertising, architecture, computer games, craft, design, digital content, fashion, film, music, moving image, photography, software, textiles, TV and radio.
Value is placed on the combination of expressive content, industrial know how and business acumen. The WEA acknowledges that there is tremendous potential within expression and how it can be applied to the creative economy.
However, one size does not fit all and with this in mind, the WEA aims to support digital, talented and creative communities, whose main resource is people. As a social educator, who recognises that learning is accelerated when we discover together, the WEA also acknowledges the importance of connectivity in the working environment of creatives.
Both Creative and Cultural Skills and Skillset endorse this work done by the WEA and indeed, Creative and Cultural Skills included the “Creativity Thirst” programme in their Northern Ireland “Creative Blueprint”, issued in 2008.
How can the Workers' Educational Association support the Creative Industries?
- Assist people to establish and improve their creative business ideas, gain focus, confidence, make opportunities for work, develop a plan and develop a network of appropriate support in the sector.
- The WEA allows "creative connectivity" at community level: by encouraging talent at local level and bringing their "voice" to the fore of the wider agenda for decision and policy makers involved in the creative industries.
- The WEA appreciates the creative talent evident in our learners. Combined with the correct technical ability, innovative and expressive skills in the arts and creativity have tremendous potential to connect networks, community and impact the economy at home and beyond.
- Take careful attention to offer the best quality of support we can. An example of this is demonstrated in the inclusion of professionals already working in the industry, in the delivery of our courses.
- With a history of delivering leadership courses, the WEA acknowledges the need for leadership and management skills particularly in the areas within this sector. This is a rapidly changing and unpredictable industry. Change needs to be managed and strategy implemented to achieve vision. Programmes offered by the WEA help to achieve this.
Comments from past participants...
"As well as helping refine and develop my business idea, the WEA's "Creativity Thirst" programme introduced me to leading Hollywood professionals, both via one-to-one mentoring and through a series of specialist film related talks that I would have otherwise not have been unaware of. These networking opportunities were responsible for me being able to undertake further training courses to learn industry standard software.
As part of my business idea, I'm currently working on my first short film and hope to have it completed and entered into the film festival circuit next year."
"Creativity Thirst" helped me acknowledge that t he Art work I do is worthwhile. It gave me the confidence to put my work into the public domain without apology and actively seek opportunities to display and sell my work. Throughout the programme I beca me more focused on what I want to achieve."
"The skills that I picked up on the Creative Thirst programme gave me the confidence to make that first step into setting up my own business and working for myself. It gave me the knowledge that I needed as well as the support and showed me that my idea was a viable business. The mentoring I was given was outstanding and exceptional, showing me what standard was needed to compete in today's market in the creative industries. I would recommend it to anybody who was thinking of setting up a business or working for themselves."
What are we looking for?
• Individuals who would like to be involved in our programmes.
• Finding support to make this provision available.
• Organisations, councils, etc who would be interested in becoming partners with us in delivery.
• Your approval: if you like what we are doing, please tell us and others.
To express an interest please contact Carole Kane on , or email