Dwindling creative education must be our industry's next frontier
A view from Ollie Olanipekun

Dwindling creative education must be our industry's next frontier

In an industry of excess, how can we reallocate creative resources to support creative education?

2020 is a new decade that should mark the beginning of new energy and creative forces to come. However, the end of the last decade left much unresolved, with creative arts subjects cut back across secondary schools and the arts in England due to lose £40m of funding per year post-Brexit. It leaves us in a state of concern: what does this mean for the next generation of creatives and what will the impact be on national, even global, arts and culture?

Creative education is important in maintaining the skills pipeline vital to the future of the creative industries. Aside from this, it is our last frontier in an ever-growing digitalised, technologically driven society. What we neglect so readily for a more "stable" career is even supported by Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman, who believes that academic subjects are the best route for higher-level study, and in particular for working-class children. With messages that echo this, such as warnings to students on the reality of creative education and career prospects, this further reinforces the idea that creative education is not for everyone.

As someone who has grown a business based on collaboration, community and inclusivity, I cannot believe that, as an industry and as a society, we have to accept this as the only outcome. That is why Superimpose has partnered institutions and organisations across the country, providing inspiration and guidance for subjects that extend beyond the classroom – whether that’s through workshops, portfolio reviews, extracurricular programmes or collaborations with the likes of University of the Arts London, Apple, Ravensbourne University and D&AD, among others.

We focus on creative education and alternative learning for younger audiences. What we are trying to achieve is simply to raise awareness of an industry that typically exists behind closed doors and to create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy for creative education and the creative industry to be valued like any other sector, with the potential to flourish, evolve and even transcend its own category.

From 27 to 31 January, Superimpose’s non-commercial creative platform Services Unknown partnered London College of Fashion to launch an agenda aimed at enhancing the creative curriculum. Taking over London College of Fashion’s entire Lime Grove campus, the week closed with a presentation on Friday, with more than 300 people in attendance. Attendees witnessed a new group of movers and shakers emerging as future agents of change.

As a sensory exploration and experience into "anti-fragility", the course invited students to create a joint manifesto to consciously and collectively communicate their priorities, with the aim of inspiring others to follow suit. Treating the campus as an exhibition space, utilising and playing with all types of found and existing materials and variables, multiple activations played into each other to evoke emotion and energy, surfacing the manifesto through different mediums and art forms, with a particular focus on sight, sound and social spaces. 

This knowledge exchange showed the value of two established entities crossing industry borders to challenge the possibilities of creative education. It brought industry and students closer together at a younger age and helped build their body of work and practice. The partnership can hopefully set an example that there is room for other brands, businesses and individuals to muster the power of their own agency and to invest in where they have come from. 

By levelling the realities of weighty marketing budgets with dwindling creative funding, we should all ask ourselves how we can each contribute. For us, "Supercurriculum" will be the next chapter as we further explore how alternative learning can take form. Education is a journey that cannot be housed within one setting or remain within four walls.

Ollie Olanipekun is creative director and founder of Superimpose
Pictures: Ethan Hart and Superimpose