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George Osborne praises £77bn creative sector as industry gathers at Downing Street to support diversity

Marketing leaders from some of the UK's biggest brands, agency leaders and education representatives gathered at 11 Downing Street to support greater diversity within the creative industries.

Hosted by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, the event last night (10 February) highlighted the work of the Ideas Foundation in boosting creative career opportunities for school and further education students.

The Ideas Foundation was founded by Engine president Robin Wight to nurture young creative talent from inner city schools. Brands including Barclays and IBM, and agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, BBH and Engine, are on board to help develop the skills of young people from diverse backgrounds, with the aim of helping them find a job in the creative industries.

Jonathan Akwue, chair of the Ideas Foundation and chief executive at Lost Boys said: “Over the last year, diversity has become one of the hottest topics within ,the advertising and marketing industries. There is now a growing consensus that things need to change.”

Sarah Sands, editor of The Evening Standard, said the media and creative industries need to do more to address the lack of diverse talent within their ranks.

"The creative industries are good at the 'here and now', but we have to be better at being visionaries. We're at a crossroads now; we can be overtaken by newer, democratic forms of social media or we can join forces.

"Whether it's the shortage of women on boards or the lack of Oscar nominated black actors, the solution is the same – get the pipeline flowing. Find the talent rather than waiting for it to fall into your lap. Be bold and adventurous rather than opportunistic. The more open-minded we are, the better we will be."

George Osborne said: "Britain is home to an incredibly successful and vibrant creative sector, worth almost £77bn to our economy. Accounting for 1.8 million jobs in the UK, the British creative industries leads the world and I would encourage anyone considering a career in this area to get involved with the great work and opportunities created by fantastic organisations like the Ideas Foundation."