For many organisations in the live performance and audiovisual sectors, developing training activities is quite an investment as it involves costs and time.
Understanding skills needs, identifying the right training offer, accommodating training time slots, and funding the training activities themselves, even if considered as highly relevant, might scare some organisations off, especially very small ones already working under busy work schedules.
Skills development, especially in the cultural and creative industries highly impacted by digitalisation, has been recognised however as key for the sustainability and further development of our sectors, and has proved to bring back return on the investment made for companies who engaged in it.
Including training in our strategic thinking means mainstreaming skills assessments and skills development discussions across all our activities, as well as finding solutions to fund our diverse training needs.
Because our sectors are composed of a limited number of large-scale employers next to a constellation of small and very small businesses, and of a large and increasing number of independent workers (self-employed, freelancers, etc.), sector partnerships are the way to go to allow for as many professionals as possible to have access to training in the course of their careers.
If there is no one solution that could fit all needs in the different national contexts and creative sub-sectors, inspiration can be drawn from initiatives that have been experimented in recent years in different European countries.
They prove that supporting professionals in assessing their skills and acquiring new ones can be of different formats and scales. They can respond to short term needs or look at the longer-term development of the sector and of individual career paths; and that they can be more or less expensive.
They mostly demonstrate that solutions exist and that such solutions should be deployed by our sectors more systematically across European countries.
ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based industries - animation, film, games, television including children’s TV and high-end TV, VFX and immersive technology.
A key revenue stream for the organisation is the skills investment funds made of contributions paid by the industry. ScreenSkills administers the Film Skills Fund, the Animation Skills Fund, the High-end TV Skills Fund, the Children’s TV Skills Fund, and the Television Skills Fund.
The funds are dedicated to supporting new entrants as well as experienced professionals, operating across every part of the value chain including production, post-production, exhibition and distribution. Paying into the funds also demonstrates that productions and companies recognise the challenges faced by a largely freelance workforce and are willing to help tackle them. Each fund has slightly different rules and targets.
The Film Skills Fund, commonly known as the film levy, has been operating since 1999. Film productions of whatever size shooting in the UK are encouraged to contribute 0.5% of the production’s UK core expenditure - up to a maximum contribution of £41,800 for 2018/19, rising annually. Projects receiving public funding are required to pay into the fund as a condition of access to their investment. The fund supports a variety of actions including the trainee placement scheme Trainee Finder, bursaries for the upskilling of film professionals, and subsidised training courses. Investment has diversity and inclusion targets. For example, the last cohort of recruits to Trainee Finder were 66% women, 60% from outside London and 20% black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME).
Other skills funds were subsequently set up alongside the introduction of new tax reliefs and operate along similar lines to the Film Skills Fund.
The High-end TV Skills Fund, which applies to TV production costing £1 million or more per broadcast hour to produce, was established in 2013 and has since invested more than £11 million in supporting skills and training for high-end television production. The Animation Skills Fund was also set up in 2013 and the Children’s TV Skills Fund followed in 2015.
The Television Skills Fund is the result of an agreement between UK broadcasters to invest in training for the freelance television workforce. BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5 currently contribute. Since it was set up in 2006, the fund has invested more than £10.4 million in the industry through a variety of funding initiatives such as a series producer programme or schemes to develop a more diverse workforce. Decisions about how the funds are spent are made by skills councils which are made up of industry leaders in the sector.
In addition to managing the industry’s Skills Funds made up of employers’ contributions, ScreenSkills also enjoys other partnerships.
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Kulturakademin is a Training Program for professionals in film, television and the performing arts in the Western region of Sweden. It provides courses, workshops and lectures free of costs to all participants, including to freelancers who make up a very important part of the workforce.
Kulturakademin is a non-profit organisation. It is piloted by Film i Väst (the regional film fund), the Gothenburg Opera, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Folkteatern, Regionteater Väst and Teater Halland. The organisation also has strategic & business councils composed of organisations from across the board of the West Sweden cultural sector (educational bodies, cultural institutions, commercial theatres, independent groups, social partners in film and stage, the Swedish Television regional offices, etc.).
In addition to a rich catalogue of face-to-face training sessions, Kulturakademin has launched K-play, an online platform that offers free access to podcasts and webcasts.
Kulturakademin is funded by the Regional Culture Commission and the Regional Development Commission. It is a striking example of a sector partnership made possible through public support.
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INTER.MEZZO is a career coaching project carried out by the Sociaal Fonds Podiumkunsten (SF P), the ‘Social fund for the live performance sector’ in Flemish-speaking Belgium. SF P is governed by social partners (employers’ associations and unions) and its overall mission is to support skills development and employment in the performing arts and music sectors.
INTER.MEZZO is an example of a sector appropriation of a general scheme implemented in Flanders to support individuals in their career development. Through the general schemes, individuals (employees and self-employed) receive career vouchers that they can use at labelled career centres to receive career advises.
In order to offer sector professionals– initially dancers at times of transition but later on all types of sector professionals – relevant support, SF P is recognised as a labelled career centre and developed a pool of experts equipped with the right understanding of the sector operations and needs.
SFP also developed a customized funding model which receives, on top of the contribution of the general voucher system, support from the Ministry of Culture.
The Creative Europe programme is the European Union’s funding scheme specifically dedicated to supporting the cultural and creative industries. It is made of two sub-programmes: a first one focusing on culture initiatives and a second one on the audiovisual sector. A cross-sectoral strand includes a Guarantee Facility and promotes transnational policy cooperation.
The current Creative Europe programme was launched in 2014 and will run till 2020. Its audiovisual strand (called MEDIA) had a dedicated action line for training activities. The next round of similar funding opportunities for training actions will be under the successor programme of Creative Europe in 2021. Skills should remain an important objective of the future programme currently in negotiation as part of the overall agreement on the European Unions’ budget 2021-2027.
Other EU funding programmes can also be used by cultural and creative stakeholders to develop training strategies or actions, such as Erasmus + (education and training), Horizon (research) or the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund.
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The Mediacademie was founded in 2011 by umbrella organisations of the Flemish written press sector to improve the offer of media-oriented courses. In 2013 the initiative was extended to the audiovisual sector.
Since 2017, two projects co-exist: Mediacademie Journalistiek (that also covers the online media) and Mediacademie Audiovisual. In 2018 the Government of Flanders granted 1 million euros to the initiative with the aim of safeguarding a pluralistic media sector through training actions. mediarte, the Social Fund of the audiovisual and film production sectors in Belgium, manages the Audiovisual department of the Mediacademie. It gives access to a large variety of training schemes - administered by external providers - through a blended learning database. It offers financial support for learning initiatives. It also experiments with new learning formats such as the ‘mediacafé’, an informal networking event aimed at highlighting the sectorial evolutions through real-life cases and best practices.
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As demonstrated in the previous pages training opportunities for creative professionals already exist in different countries, and other courses and programmes have been established thanks to European funding.
An increasing number of universities and arts institutions across Europe are also developing their lifelong training offer.
Online learning platforms specifically dedicated to skills development for cultural and creative professionals are available as well. Most offer their contents for free.
Identifying relevant training schemes responding to given skills needs can therefore be easier and less costly than it is assumed to be.
As a first port of entry for your search, visit the Creative Skills Europe website:
Depending on the local and/or national contexts, on the size of the industry, and on the existence of relevant cross-sectoral schemes and tools, different funding options for training activities might already be available.
Training solutions can be designed as one-off actions to respond to urgent needs or as more stable mechanisms to allow for a sustainable investment of the sector in skills. The creation of longer-term training funds also facilitates the development of the sector expertise in work-related training needs and its capacity to better understand and anticipate change.
Adapting existing schemes to the sector needs or facilitating access to those schemes to professionals from our sectors can also be a clever investment for the future, without engaging too much of our own resources.
Only a limited number of organisations in the European Audiovisual and Live Performance sectors can afford to develop their own training actions.
Sector partnerships are therefore the way to go.
Sharing expertise at sector level on the key transformations impacting our activities, developing an insight into the skills needs that will be key for our organisations in the years to come, and pooling resources to design and fund the right training schemes to respond to our needs makes total sense and should be encouraged in more European countries and regions.
Maintaining regular contacts and conversations with education institutions should also be a priority on the sector’s agenda in order to reinforce synergies, improve the quality of the curricula and enhance professional perspectives.
Examples of sector initiatives in the field of professional training that receive complementary support from public funding are numerous and have demonstrated their efficiency.
Supporting professional training to consolidate careers and enhance the performance of companies is a strategic priority of the European Union and at the heart of most Member States’ economic policies.
When looking into the set-up of sector-specific training programmes, we should coordinate our demands with other sector stakeholders (institutions and industry representatives) and approach decision-makers at local, regional and national levels.