Creative businesses urged to support diversity push

Factory Academy learners (Chris Payne Photography)

Businesses in the creative industries are being encouraged to participate in a new diversity push from Manchester’s new arts centre Factory International.

A trailblazing new course is helping support local people to become the next generation of creative and cultural industry leaders. 

The Future Cultural Leaders course, which launched this month (May 2023), sees Executives and Producers from organisations across Manchester team up to deliver training aimed at further diversifying Manchester’s creative leadership workforce.

The course is supported by partner charity The Andy Taylor Foundation and delivered by Factory Academy, the skills and training arm of Factory International, the organisation behind both Manchester International Festival (MIF) and the new flagship venue which opens this year.

Amongst the range of cultural figures sharing their expertise are Roger Wilson, Director of Operations at Black Lives in Music, Samuel Remi-Akinwale, Co-Chief Executive Officer at Young Manchester and Simone Spray, Chief Executive at 42nd Street. They will be joined by members of Factory International’s leadership team including Artistic Director and Chief Executive John McGrath, Executive Director Randel Bryan, Venue Director Sheena Wrigley and Creative Director, Low Kee Hong. 

Other guest speakers on the course include James O’Brien, Podcaster, Author and Radio Presenter at LBC and Malaki Patterson, Artistic Director of Music Works.

Students will benefit from 1-1 learning, networking opportunities, career guidance and practical workshops covering skills from pitching for funding to public speaking. They will also gain Manchester Living Wage paid work experience in leading Manchester creative organisations including HOME, John Rylands Library, Reform Radio, Manchester Museum, People’s History Museum, Royal Exchange Theatre, Walk the Plank and the Whitworth Art Gallery. 

Randel Bryan, Executive Director at Factory International said: “As one of Manchester’s leading arts organisations, we have a responsibility to pave the way for the people that will lead the industry of tomorrow.

“Championing diversity and inclusion is at the very heart of what we do at Factory International and we are dedicated to creating real, tangible routes into the industry for local people.”

Working in partnership with employers across the city, Factory Academy have already started to deliver 1,500 fully funded training places (over a five-year period). These include paid internships, training academies and work experience programmes – bespoke courses and opportunities developed with experts – as well as digital learning and engagement opportunities.