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Reaction: Creative England CEO hunt

As Creative England continues its search to appoint its first CEO, Alan Grove, creative director of Addiction London offers his opinion on the post.

So I looked up Creative England and this is what their website says they will do:

‘Creative England will build on the screen agencies’ well-established expertise linking together the economic, educational and social benefits of digital inclusion and cultural engagement in creative media, whilst also reducing expenditure and overheads, resulting in the streamlining of public funds into the creative sector.’

My deflation was almost instantaneous.

Once I had waded through all the expertise/inclusion/engagement/expenditure/overheads/streamlining-ness of it all, I think I just about got it. Creative England is going to help creative people create creative stuff. Well why didn’t they just say so?

There is no doubt that the intention behind creating ‘Creative England’ is noble. Some of the best things to come out of England are born of a non-conformist streak that has - and always will - run through a country that punches well above its weight in film, literature, music, art, advertising and theatre. Creativity is easily one of England’s greatest assets and the more support it gets the better.

But, look again at that description of what Creative England does. I’m hard-pressed to remember a paragraph that has ever sounded less creative. If you go to the jobs section, the CEO job description doesn’t fare much better:

‘The ideal candidate will have a demonstrable record of success in high profile leadership roles. An accomplished communicator, you will be a driven and visionary individual with entrepreneurial flair and with experience in both public and private sectors. Being faced with many organisational challenges, you must have first class negotiation and communication skills, and be able to deliver innovative and strategic responses.’

Yes, there’s lots of good stuff in there. There's lots of proper hard-headed business sense and skills that will be absolutely vital in running such an organisation. But surely the CEO of Creative England should also be required to have some understanding of, or (whisper it) 'passion' for creativity and what it can achieve? It wouldn’t take more than an extra sentence to improve the chances of finding someone who shares a common interest with the organisations and people Creative England is setting out to help.

If you’re going to call yourselves ‘Creative England’, the first priority is to present yourselves as such. How can an organisation champion creativity and creative people when, at first glance, it does not even look like it speaks the same language as the creative community?

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