Talkin' 'bout a revolution

A few weeks ago, Darren Henley of the Arts Council visited Sunderland to call for a ‘Creativity Revolution’ in a speech alongside Matt Hancock Digital Economy and Culture Minister who was championing the UK's creative industries.


Back in January, the non-profit social enterprise STEAM Co. I co-founded held an event in Sunderland with the support of the Arts Council to inspire communities of the North East to inspire their children with creativity. 

Since then Barclays, Google and National Grid have supported events organised by the social enterprise I co-founded, STEAM Co. across the UK. 

“Unleashing the power of art and creativity. We're leaving no one behind” 
Ashok Vaswani : CEO, Barclays

    "In creativity I saw light. Creativity is not the monopoly of artists" 
      Lemn Sissay MBE : Poet/Chancellor

STEAM Co. Days have since been held in schools in Newcastle and across the country, from South Tyneside to Cornwall to Shropshire to Manchester. 

Sunderland has a wealth of cultural, industrial and community powered stories and is a lead bidder for UK Cultural Capital 2021. So I was delighted to revisit the city at the invitation of the local community to give 4 talks and workshops in the city’s schools and a wider community meeting Thursday evening at Northern Saints Primary School. 


At an event organised by the Creative Industries Federation, the DCMS digital economy and culture minister Matt Hancock MP celebrated our creative industries and their contribution to the economy. 

UKTI sell the UK to the world under the banner of ‘Creativity is GREAT’ with a poster featuring Sunderland born designer, inventor and STEAM Co. Inspirator Dominic Wilcox.

Yet schools minister Nick Gibb MP recently addressed a schools conference featuring speakers including a leading teacher with 14,000 followers who says ‘creativity is for people with glasses who like to lie”.

Last week Sunderland MP Sharon Hodgson, leader of the Art in schools All Party Parliamentary group, described how, not only are fewer children choosing creative GCSE’s, but also how fewer people are now training to teach creative subjects. 

It’s a downward spiral.


The UK isn’t short of people and organisations who believe in and value creativity but we need to bring it out of the silos of education, trade bodies and institutions. We need one message we can all shout out.


Our message has to be clear and simple and mean something to, and be ownable by, everyone. ‘Creativity’ itself is a mouthful to many and requires a definition. Rightly or wrongly, the arts can have an instant elitist connotation.

‘Art’ is open to many definitions, but one we particularly like is from global business and social change guru Seth Godin: #ArtConnects

    “Art is what we call it when what we do might connect us” 
      Seth Godin

So “What’s your art?”

Whether painting dance or music. Whether football, cookery or woodwork. Social entrepreneurship, innovation or coding. It’s all art, We can all be artists.


A windows sticker in a shop in France recently caught my eye, which simply said ‘I ♥ ART’ which gave us an idea. Our statement. Our campaign. In this consumer co-created open source world we see people creating their own ♥ that captures their art. 

By Friday night we had a thousand logo, created by children, parents, teachers, artists and business people from South Tyneside and printed them on posters and t-shirts.

What's your art?

Do visit to tell us about your art. They did.