Busy New Year ahead

OVER the past 10 days or so, you might just have heard the words 'Happy New Year' above the ear-piercing din from the economic doom-mongers, whose financial forecasts predict 2009 to be anything but happy!But what do we do about these expected traumatic conditions - give in, shut the doors, close the curtains and endure? Or use the duration to plan, build, train, rethink, prepare, launch anew and be ready and already rolling when times improve? As in previous recessions, we need to box clever and plug into our creative energies.

OVER the past 10 days or so, you might just have heard the words 'Happy New Year' above the ear-piercing din from the economic doom-mongers, whose financial forecasts predict 2009 to be anything but happy!

But what do we do about these expected traumatic conditions - give in, shut the doors, close the curtains and endure? Or use the duration to plan, build, train, rethink, prepare, launch anew and be ready and already rolling when times improve? As in previous recessions, we need to box clever and plug into our creative energies.

It's so easy to be miserable, and moaning has undoubtedly become a great British artform - albeit as yet unfunded. Being happy takes effort, especially in a modern world where only negatives make headlines - small wonder that a new year report terrifyingly reveals that 27pc of all 16 to 25-year-olds say they are always or often down or depressed. And they are not the only ones!

Finding your own happiness is a quest worth making despite the odds. Time is obviously the most valuable asset in life, and making good use of it makes you happy. As work takes up most of our waking hours, striving to find a job you enjoy makes sense too.


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For almost two million people in Britain such jobs are found in the creative and cultural industries. These jobs range from the self-made - using individual skills, interests and passions - through to commercial businesses and large enterprises developing creative products and services (architects, recording studios, maritime enterprises...). And remember: every creative enterprise or project needs back-up teams: administrators, financial folk, secretaries, caterers, technicians, gofers and more.

The creative and cultural (C&C) industries are a big success story in the UK and too rarely reported. Many initiatives, large and small, have made significant financial contributions to the economies of the country, regions, towns and individuals. Indeed, one big news story has been how much money the European City of Culture 2008 status has contributed to Liverpool and Merseyside over the past year. A staggering �800,000,000 economic impact has been enjoyed in an area where it's very much needed. A brilliant investment by the local powers-that-be and a great return, regardless of carping critics

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Our C&C industries outperform similar concerns in every other European state, so perhaps it makes sense now, in difficult times, to back a proven winner.

Locally, look on every high street in Waveney and you will see creative and cultural retailers; freelancers and entrepreneurs abound; and innumerable varying-size businesses and enterprises are to be found. I know - I've been looking!

Often, these industries do not just have money-making as the priority, wellbeing and fulfilment being vastly more important. Hence, the creative and cultural industries have, and always will, offer diverse, enjoyable work and career opportunities for all ages (many never want to retire).

And they make products needed and enjoyed by all others at some times, be that TV, fine art, pub music, grand opera…

These jobs are for people prepared to graft and who enjoy working; people who think beyond outdated

nine-to-five work patterns and realise risk is vital in life, as it also offers freedom and excitement as well as (or instead of) big financial returns. Perhaps a really happy new year will be one - regardless of Liverpool's success - when the phrase 'What's it worth?' refers to life quality rather than cash returns.

But people planning, launching, developing or changing careers not only have to be made aware of these fulfilling possibilities but be well supported, developed and encour-aged in these arenas, which healthily contribute to the local and national good.

Fortunately, the government has very recently latched on to the potential of these industries and is tackling awareness and training at school level. But try asking for advice at a jobcentre or even through many Business Link-type bases and you will virtually draw a blank. The supp-ort services that have evolved have often been inspired by creative entre-preneurs themselves setting up advice businesses, with these ideas later being adopted by local authorities and regional development agencies.

The Creative Industries Develop-ment Agency in Yorkshire is not unique in being a private company funded to run initiatives from public monies. I wish I'd had the support and training opportunities it offers when I previously set up my own projects and indeed creative business.

The need and demand for quality support and training always outstrips supply, and quality support has been a major factor in the success stories of these industries. Alas, this seems comparatively lacking in East Anglia both geographically and across the wide creative and cultural spheres (the East of England Development Agency's creative industries support, I am told, only covers 'new media').

Obviously support, input and action needs to come from many sources, including the creative and cultural industries themselves, education centres, employers, voluntary and community concerns, specialist organisations and groups and more and be well co-ordinated and programmed. The demand for all this elsewhere is huge, and the success stories innumerable. So, why not here too?

Waveney is keen on energy companies - creative energies are the ultimate power source. There's certainly plenty of activity and enterprise to build on and the potential for growth and jobs is significant. Or do we go along with those doom-mongers and give up?

Together, making more creative jobs and opportunities would make more fulfilling lives. Now that would make a happy year. Let's get talking.

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