Campaign aims to showcase North's creative talents

300 jobs could be created through a drive to highlight the region's strengths in the creative and digital media sector

Creative Champions meet at Gateshead's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art for the launch of the Creative North campaign
Creative Champions meet at Gateshead's Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art for the launch of the Creative North campaign

An ambitious campaign has been launched to celebrate the North’s creative and digital media sector, while generating hundreds of opportunities for young people.

Creative North, which seeks to showcase the wealth of talent in the region and tackle perceptions that relocating is necessary for success, is being led by apprenticeship provider the Youth Training Academy.

By 2016, the plan is to engage 100 schools and colleges, as well as 500 creative and digital media businesses with the project. Ultimately, it is hoped 200 jobs can be created for young people within the region, with another 100 being drawn to the North through the opportunities offered.

The campaign is the brainchild of Youth Training Academy managing director Rob Earnshaw, who has himself thrived in the creative world while remaining in his home region.

Originally a casting director, Earnshaw has been responsible for finding talent such as Matt Milne for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and James Howson for Andrew Arnold’s Wuthering Heights.

In 2011, he founded the National Youth Film Academy before going on to form the training academy. On paper, the move has been a resounding success, helping get 180 young people into creative apprenticeships within two years.

However, Earnshaw noticed that the vast bulk were from outside the region – as were the companies taking them on.

“I thought: enough’s enough,” he said.

“We’ve got an absolutely fantastic region with fantastic companies, but nobody knows anything about them.

“I’ve sat through a number of conferences and what always come out is that we don’t have the skills here in the North East. I know we do have those skills. Unfortunately, at schools and colleges it’s being recommended to young people that they move to London.”

Crucial to the campaign will be a number of Creative Champions – inspiring individuals who can highlight the region’s strengths while working to inspire young people. Already, about 40 – including Herb Kim of Thinking Digital and Brian Jobling of Eutechnyx – have pledged their support.

The plan now is to highlight the work of such supporters through online videos and articles, ultimately giving them ownership by providing a central point to highlight opportunities.

“There are about 3,000 creative and digital media businesses in the North of England and I think our goals are quite easily achievable,” Earnshaw added.

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