Creative YOU

Creativity is everywhere. Opportunity is not.     

We are part of the solution. The secret is in our name. Every year Creative Youth Network gives thousands of young people a taste and thirst for the arts and culture and the joy, life-skills and opportunity they bring.   

But we want more.   

Creative YOU is our campaign showcasing how we, you and the engaged, emerging and amazing young creatives we support, come together. 

We want to reveal how, together, we are ambition, quality, cultural democracy and social mobility in action. 

Every young person deserves the right to access creativity and development opportunities in the creative and cultural industries.

It all starts with education.

If all young people have access to creative subjects in school, then talented young people from all backgrounds can pursue their passion, develop crucial skills needed in so many industries and improve their wellbeing.

1. Pledge

Add your name and join the many people passionate about bringing creativity back into our schools.   

With all the pledges we’ll be reaching out to headteachers in Bristol and the South West. We hope this will encourage local academies to give more space to creativity in their curriculum.  

Bristol, being the creative city we know and love, can pave the way for other regions to do the same, showcasing the true value of creativity.  



2. Sign up

Join us by signing up to our newsletter where we share best practice of how to support young people. 

sign up 


3. Find out more

Join us by reading and sharing our CreativeYOU report which shows how our work brings opportunities for creative expression and enables young people to explore their talent, regardless of background or circumstance.  

Download our Creative YOU report


I am white!  That may seem obvious so bear with me.  Most of our receptionists are white as are most of the youth workers and artists who work with young people through Creative Youth Network.  In, fact, in pure numbers our staff team and trustees are representative of the areas we work in and we are well over represented in LGBT and other ‘protected’ categories but on the front line Creative Youth Network is not as representative as it should be.  The young people who access our services are also well over represented from all BME backgrounds (by over 10%) but there is still a perception – rightly – that Creative Youth Network is a ‘white’ organisation.  Our BME staff are less visible and not in senior positions.

Given that we want to make sure everyone feels welcomed, this is something we need to challenge and work on.  But it’s difficult, we do all of the ‘advertising’ in the right places, making sure our publicity has varied faces and photographs and we aim to specifically recruit from particular communities.  This has not been particularly successful and we still feel stuck in an ‘enclave’.  

For quite some time I was stuck about what to do, how to change this.  Looking across the West of England many others are in the same position – black and white.  The divides in our organisations tend to reflect where we come from.  This was crystallised for me when I spoke to a young black woman who was the first BME member of staff in a London based women’s charity.  She said ‘I felt uncomfortable to begin with, like this place wasn’t for people like me.  Everyone was very friendly and there was no prejudice in the organisation but I just felt different’. 

I know I have felt the same when abroad or visiting organisations from cultures different to my own.  None of this is rocket science but I am only recently becoming aware of how much cultural barriers matter.  I’m not talking here about racism or prejudice (which of course do exist) but about difference.  How much we all like to be with people who are like us.  Who act the same way and who have an unwritten code of behaviour that is neither right or wrong, just different. 

So, how do we overcome that.  Firstly, there are no easy answers, but one of our trustees spoke to me about it a few weeks ago and simply said we need to reach out – go to meetings with culturally different organisations, meet new people - practical partnerships may or may not grow from that but we begin to grow friendships and understanding.  But it takes bravery from both sides.  The trustee I mentioned is someone who is reaching out from the Black community into the white with vigour and is making real headway in joining cultures that might otherwise have stayed friendly but separate.

I have, of course, been doing this over many years, but it reminded me to redouble my efforts, spend more of my time reaching out to the communities of Bristol and beyond, simply make contact and see what comes after that.  I don’t know if it will help bring more young people through our doors, increase the numbers of BME staff working at CYN or change perceptions of us as an organisation, but it feels like the right thing to do and we will see where it takes us.   


How can we help?