Culture Mile, in partnership with Foundation for FutureLondon, has announced the shortlist entries for the Fusion Prize, a competition designed to invest in innovative and impactful ideas to equip young people with the skills they need to meet the demands of today’s employers.
With a judging panel of innovators and cutting-edge thinkers, access to Culture Mile and East Bank experts, and a £50,000 prize for the winner, the Fusion Prize will invest in solutions that address the growing skills gap faced by many young Londoners.
The prize aims to use creativity to upskill future generations to succeed in the 21st century and develop the fusion skills that are essential for the modern workplace – a mix of communication, thinking, organisational and creative skills.
The six shortlisted ideas include digital badging for cultural activities, training for the growing profession of experience designers, a model to turn schools into hotbeds of creativity, a podcast and digital platform nurturing new kinds of artistic and journalistic talent, creative training for young people delivered by young people, and high calibre digital media training. They will each receive £1,000 seed funding to develop their ideas.
The winner of the Fusion Prize will be announced in May and will win £50,000 to implement their idea.
Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell: “We know that too few people are leaving education with the creative and transferable skills which are so in demand across London and the UK. As policy makers, civic and business leaders, we need to find alternative ways to teach these skills to young people, not only so they have the skills to thrive in the world of work, but so UK businesses have the talent they need to prosper and drive the UK economy.
“I truly believe we must all be doing more to ensure the next generation is prepared for work in business. That’s why I am so thrilled that the Fusion Prize has been created, with the aim of addressing these issues. I’ve been so impressed by the sheer range of ideas and – with the financial support these six shortlisted ideas are receiving today – I can’t wait to see what they achieve.”
The shortlist includes:
Muted Media is taking a new approach to creativity, discourse and journalism, one that nurtures a new type of talent and changes the landscape of the media industry. Muted Media intend to engage with and showcase creative skills from the margins of society, highlighting perspectives anywhere from inside the care system to the criminal justice system, via the curation and production of various types of content, including podcasts, documentaries and music. Arguments for ending austerity and tackling inequality are gaining ground, but it is still rare to hear from individuals who have experienced them first-hand. Both members of the team met at HMP YOI Isis in Greenwich offering different interventions and support to prisoners.
The Pattern is a cultural production incubator using the power of co-creation and peer learning from subcultural leaders to empower young talent from fringe communities. Giving them the power to co-produce events, which bring their creativity and their communities to the forefront. This will include peer learning workshops with subcultural leaders who are at the forefront of cultural shifts in the city; seminars exploring the theories behind creating change in community groups; and helping the cohort to programme a series of live projects that allow young people to build inclusive spaces for their communities. Ayo Fagbemi (Strategist at Wieden + Kennedy) and Nate Agbetu (Freelance Creative Strategist + Cultural Producer, Ex Nike) will come together to make Play Nice, a studio working to build intersections between communities, focusing on the people making change; developing creative communications and moments that highlight the culture, heritage and the future of fringe groups.
AWAKE is a new initiative led by BitterSuite and Dr John Fass, designed to nurture a new wave of socially conscious experience designers. AWAKE will help this new generation make sense of the world around them through the realisation of innovative, human centred experiences. AWAKE is a process leading to the design of experiences and events that take inspiration from urgent social issues and are oriented towards social and personal transformation. AWAKE will offer a foundation style programme aimed at 18-25 year olds who are experiencing barriers to creative opportunity or who have felt uninspired by the exam-led, tick-box approach taken by UK schools. Experience Design is an emerging creative sector with experience designers working on brand management, government services, in protest groups, and in science communication. Experience Design requires new types of thinkers and makers, people able to move between traditional disciplines, consider the collective issues and individual concerns of society, express new realities, foreground new voices, and push at the boundaries of current practice.
The Great Create
The Great Create is a whole-school approach to embedding a culture of creativity in a school and its wider community. A group of 10-15 young leaders will be trained to facilitate co-creation workshops with teachers and students, designing a bank of over 100 responsive creative challenges that will be taken on daily over a 6-month period. Individual students and teachers, whole classes and whole schools will compete to see who can be the most inventive and collaborative, and bring the most diverse approaches to embedding a creative life in their school.
THE NEXUS fuses project-based learning, workshops from five specialist practitioners and authentic work experiences, supporting six local charities through the co-production of digital media assets (logos, UI, photography, social media, podcasts, 360 video, AR maps), by young Londoners, aged 15-25, within Olympic Boroughs. Situated within the inspiring Plexal complex, and grouped by shared interests to promote meaningful experiences and motivation, 18 participants will research, pitch and deliver these projects, populating online portfolios to reflect on their activities, processes and experiences. Supporting participants, the team will foster and formatively assess the development of fusion skills, namely communication, critical thinking, problem solving, creative thinking, collaboration and empathy. Academic research and frameworks will be embedded into the programme materials, delivery and assessment processes to ensure transferable and reliable competencies are developed by participants, who will be awarded digital open badges, which will also be created in line with international standards and frameworks. Additionally, an open-source toolkit will be produced to support programme iterations, accredited by HEIs, for use as part of the East London Framework. Finally, projects will be showcased, in order to celebrate the achievements of the participants, which will be attended by digital industry professionals.
Knolo lets young people develop and gain accreditation of their soft skills, by using gamification mechanics to leverage their hobbies and interests to develop their skillset and increase their employability. The team is a highly creative, proactive and flexible team that has a collective background in technology, design, apps and innovation. Between them they have created and launched several physical and digital products for a variety of large companies, alongside a few start-up projects of their own!
The Fusion Prize shortlist was judged by a panel of people renowned in the culture, entrepreneurial, business and education sectors. Chaired by Sharon Ament, with Sanaz Amidi, Stephen Bediako, Juliet Can, Alison Coward, Alison Gowman, Stephen Heppell, Clive Holtham and Asif Khan.
The competition responds to evidence that participation in cultural activities can help develop fusion skills, and invites passionate individuals and teams to work together to pitch ideas for innovative programmes or products that are designed to develop the skills of London’s young people and children through cultural experiences.
All Fusion Prize applicants were encouraged to attend a series of events from September – December 2019, which gave them the opportunity to engage with speakers and take part in workshops and networking sessions to inspire and develop their ideas and hone their solutions. Schools, charities, businesses, colleges, universities, and anyone interested in skills development, cultural learning, social mobility or the talent pipeline were also invited to the events, to work together and use the power of diversity to spark innovation.
Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, CEO, Foundation for FutureLondon, says: “The Foundation for FutureLondon is thrilled with the bold collaborative proposals that have been selected as the Fusion Prize semi-finalists. From tackling inequality and austerity to giving a platform for subculture leaders and a voice to young people’s lived experience, we are seeing the future of learning and skills development. The Foundation believes in the power of collaboration, creative placemaking and opening up opportunities to improve lives of people in East London. We can’t wait to work with our Fusion Prize partners Culture Mile and East Bank to support these proposals to take shape and impact the lives of young Londoners in the near future.”
More information about the Fusion Prize can be found, here: www.culturemile.london/fusionprize.