In the dynamic world of experiential design, the integration of neuroscience represents a unique opportunity where science and creativity can combine to help elevate immersive experiences. 

To dive deeper into this fascinating subject, we sat down with Katherine Templar Lewis from Kinda Studios, a women-led neuroaesthetic studio and lab using neuroscience to prove the power of art on human connection and wellbeing. Working with brands, experience designers, platforms and institutions, Kinda turns neuroscience into felt experiences to deepen their impact on a range of interconnected health measures. 

With a wealth of expertise in crafting immersive environments that resonate with audiences, Katherine offers her insights into how experiential designers can harness the power of neuroscience to enhance their design practices. 

Katherine, can you give us a quick overview of what exactly Neuroaesthetics is?

Sure, so neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, and how they influence behaviour and cognitive processes. It explores the intricate workings of the brain’s neurons and neural circuits to understand how information is processed, emotions are generated, and actions are coordinated. 

Neuroaesthetics, is a new branch of neuroscience that our work centres in, which studies how different elements affect our environment, be it light, sound, art, nature itself, impacts our brain and body.

It delves into the aesthetic underpinnings of emotion, thought and behaviour, providing insights that can inform various fields, including design. At Kinda Studios, we see neuroscience as a valuable tool for understanding human perception and emotion, allowing us to create immersive experiences that resonate deeply with our audience.

Can you give examples of how Neuroaesthetics influences your design decisions?

Neuroaesthetics serves as a toolbox for us at Kinda Studios, providing valuable mechanisms that we can leverage to enhance our design decisions. While neuroscience doesn’t hold all the answers, it offers insights that allow us to tap into the power of creative difference. For instance, we utilise colours and sounds in design that have an affect on our nervous systems, either positive or negative. Understanding how they can evoke specific emotions and drive behavioural responses allows us greater intention in our designs 

By harnessing the power of art and sensory experiences, we create immersive environments that stir emotions and engage visitors on a deeper level. This approach not only elevates the overall design but also enables us to create social impact through values like environmental stewardship through experiential storytelling. Neuroscience empowers us to create meaningful experiences that resonate with people’s feelings and drive positive behaviour change.

How can neuroscience improve the overall quality of immersive experiences? 

Its influence extends beyond sensory stimulation; it facilitates a deeper connection and understanding of our own selves within immersive experiences. By delving into our innate desire for coherence and connection, neuroscience enables us to craft experiences that resonate deeply with visitors. We recognise that while we experience spaces every day, often without conscious control, immersive experiences offer a unique opportunity to intentionally shape those encounters. We see ourselves as privileged to create spaces where visitors can transcend their everyday reality and be transported to other worlds, fostering a profound sense of connection and engagement with impacts that lingers long after the experience ends. 

What advice would you give experiential designers wanting to incorporate neuroscience into their projects?

My advice would be to seize the opportunity to deepen your understanding and leverage this knowledge to elevate your creations. Fortunately, neuroaesthetics is now offering a wealth of resources to learn from and explore. In parallel, technological advancements are ushering in a new era where we can really harness and utilise scientific insights into experiences to deepen their impact. By leveraging this technology with neuroaesthetic knowledge and insights, you’ll be better equipped to deliver immersive experiences that resonate on a profound level.

Now more than ever is an appetite for transdisciplinary collaboration. The work we do is not just to translate but also to connect. Collaborating and exchanging ideas with both fellow designers and scientists can provide valuable perspectives and inspiration for your projects.

One resource that we often recommend is the book “Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us” by Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen. In this book, Susan Magsamen delves into the fascinating intersection of neuroscience and art, exploring how artistic experiences can profoundly impact our brains and lives. It’s a captivating read that offers valuable insights into the power of creativity and its effects on the brain.

By immersing yourself in resources like this and actively engaging with the neuroaesthetics and studios like ours, you’ll be well-equipped to infuse your experiential designs with a deeper understanding of the human mind and emotion, ultimately creating more impactful and meaningful experiences for your audience.

What challenges have you faced using neuroscience within design? And how did you address these?

Incorporating neuroscience into design presents exciting opportunities for world-building and creating immersive experiences. However, we’ve encountered challenges when certain environments don’t align with neuroscience principles. For instance, hospitals and schools often prioritise functionality over emotional well-being, hindering our ability to create truly immersive experiences.

In hospitals, the focus on efficiency and sterile environments can be at odds with the nurturing and healing aspects that neuroscience suggests are beneficial. Similarly, schools face constraints due to limited space and the need to accommodate large numbers of people, making it difficult to implement neuroscience principles effectively.

External factors like noise pollution from motorways and heavy traffic pose challenges beyond our control. Despite these obstacles, we address them by adapting our designs to work within the constraints of the space. Neuroaesthetics research and studios like Kinda Studios are helping in transforming these spaces for greater positive impact. 

We also have an in situ lab that uses neurophysiological equipment to test and explore the impact of different environments on our brain and body. The more that this work becomes a two way dialogue between science and art the further both fields can grow and the greater the positive impact we can create.

While challenges exist, they can help to fuel creativity and drive to find innovative ways to integrate neuroscience into design, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. By embracing these challenges, designers can continue to push the boundaries of immersive experiences and create meaningful connections with audiences.

What methods do you use to measure the impact of neuroscience within designs?

Yes, we use a variety of methods to measure the impact of neuroscience within our designs. This includes utilising advanced technologies such as brainwave monitoring (EEG), electrocardiography (ECG), and gamma wave analysis to gather quantitative data on neural and physiological responses to our experiences. Additionally, we rely on self-report measures to capture subjective feedback from participants, allowing us to understand their emotional and cognitive reactions.

What do you see as the future of neuroscience driven-design and how do you think it will affect the design/event industry?

The future of neuroscience and neuroaesthetic-driven design holds immense potential to revolutionise the design and event industry. As we continue to embrace science-informed design practices, we’ll see a shift towards creating experiences that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also deeply resonant on a cognitive and emotional level. Neuroscience insights will guide us in crafting environments that prioritise human well-being and connection, with an emphasis on integrating elements of nature to enhance mental and emotional health.

 

mustard jobs have unveiled new plans to support the local community, through charity fundraising and volunteering practices. As part of this redefined commitment to charities and the wider community, they’ve announced a partnership with the well-loved Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal.

mustard have appointed a charity committee to lead the charge, whom will be responsible for all fundraising and volunteering activities. Supporting and empowering staff and clients to get involved and make an impact.

As a Recruitment Agency for the Creative Industries, they’ll be getting creative with the fundraisers that they put together. With a top-secret stash of ideas up their sleeve, all will soon be revealed.

“We’re taking mustard’s charity and volunteering contributions to the next level. Working with Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal is extremely exciting, not only for our committee but for the entire business.

We hope this charity of the year partnership with The Grand Appeal, will help to provide sick children and their families with the support they need. It’s an honour to be working with them.”

Phil Boshier, Associate Director of People & Culture

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal is the official Bristol Children’s Hospital charity, that helps save the lives of sick children and supports their families. Being a stone’s throw from the mustard office, and with a large proportion of the staff having young kids, supporting Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal was a no-brainer for the team.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of mustard. Our charity partnership means we can work together towards a brighter future for the children and families at Bristol Children’s Hospital. Thanks to the generosity of brilliant Bristol businesses like mustard, we can fund everything from life-saving equipment to free accommodation for families, medical research, and so much more.”

 – Helen Haskell, Head of Fundraising (Corporate)

How to use language to foster stronger, happier, more productive relationships.

Words: Simeon de la Torre, SIM7.

The language that an organisation uses in its content, copywriting and comms influences not just how it is perceived, but how it makes audiences feel. It’s a complex, nuanced arena, but there are a handful of golden rules to remember around using brand language that’s appropriate and inclusive.

First up: what’s DEI?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) aims to make everyone within an environment, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation, feel supported and welcome.

Why is it better to use inclusive language?

According to Deloitte, companies that embrace inclusivity and inclusive language have 22% lower turnover rates, 22% greater productivity and 27% higher profitability. Externally, those companies have 39% higher customer satisfaction.

Rule #1 Avoid certain ways of identifying people

Only use race, gender, gender identity, ability, age, sexual orientation, etc. to identify people when strictly necessary, otherwise doing so can draw attention to something about someone’s characteristics that might make them feel different or excluded.

Rule #2 Use people-first language

People-first language prioritises the individual. This is an especially useful point to remember when talking about people who have disabilities.

For example, it’s better to say ‘a person with a disability’ than ‘a disabled person’. The former implies that the disability is a secondary characteristic rather than a defining one. But as mentioned in #1, it’s best to simply avoid mentioning disability unless relevant or strictly necessary.

There are a few exceptions to this point. The deaf community, for instance, generally prefers the term ‘deaf person’ to ‘person with deafness’. If in doubt, it’s best to ask.

Rule #3 Be wary of connotations

Terms such as ‘sexual preference’ or ‘preferred pronouns’ can be problematic. ‘Preference’ implies choice, and that can create a false impression. It’s best to err on the side of caution and use the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘pronouns’ instead.

Rule #4 Avoid inappropriate references

Try to avoid using terms such as ‘bipolar,’ ‘OCD,’ ‘ADHD’ or ‘ASD’ as metaphors, especially in a jokey context. These are real disabilities and disorders. Using their names to refer to things they aren’t can offend people who have them.

Rule #5 Use gender-neutral language

Yes, you may often use language with a specific audience in mind, but pronouns are generally best avoided.

When making a hypothetical point – ‘if he or she went for a walk’, for example – the ‘he or she’ clause is unnecessary, and including it can make non-binary, gender non-conforming or genderqueer folks feel excluded.

When in doubt or when using a pronoun is necessary, ‘they’ is a good choice. It’s gender-neutral and can be used to refer to an individual or a group, so has all bases covered.

Rule #6 Avoid universal phrases

Jargon is often best avoided and it’s a good idea to think before using idioms – not all translate well across cultures.

Rule #7 Avoid using your group as the reference group

Using your group as the reference group can imply it’s the norm and that other groups fall outside that norm. Terms like ‘non-white’, for example, imply that white people are the norm and everyone else, a deviation.

It’s best to take care when saying…

Guys

This term is best avoided when speaking to or referencing a group that contains non-male members.

Good alternatives: ‘Folks’, ‘you all’, ‘everyone’, ‘team’.

Girls/ladies/gals

If she’s over 18, she’s an adult. And take care when saying ‘ladies’ and ‘gals’, these terms can be patronizing. Good alternatives: ‘Women’, ‘people’.

Handicap/handicapped

Today, ‘handicapped’ is considered impolite.

Similarly, when talking about people with disabilities, avoid using terms like ‘afflicted by,’ ‘victim of’, ‘suffers from’, and ‘confined to a wheelchair’. ‘Challenged’, ‘differently abled’, and ‘specially abled’ are best avoided too.

Good alternatives: ‘Disabled’, ‘person with a disability’.

You might also consider…

Mentioning pronouns

Including pronouns – he/him, she/her, they/them – in email signatures can help non-binary, transgender and other folk feel more included.

Trigger warnings

If you’re going to publish content  that has the potential to trigger people, it’s a good idea to add a trigger warning to that content. Forewarning people about potentially offensive content can help prevent causing offence.

Writing for web accessibility

People with certain disabilities can have difficulty navigating online content. We can all help ensure the content we create is accessible. See our designing for accessibility cheat sheet for useful tips.

Keeping up-to-date

Inclusive language best practice is constantly evolving. Periodic refreshers are a great way to stay up to date. Taking a moment to think about how the language you’re going to use is inclusive often goes a long way, too.

To learn more about creating an inclusive brand, visit https://sim7creative.co.uk/ or get in touch with Sim (he/him): [email protected]

As we outlined in our new year message in January, a key focus at Bristol Creative Industries is boosting workforce diversity in creative businesses and helping to grow the talent pipeline for our members.

Our report, A creative force to be reckoned with: Unleashing the power of Bristol’s creative industries, found that accessing talent with the right skillsets was the biggest challenge facing more than a third of creative businesses in the south west. 

It also showed that increasing diversity and inclusion was a significant priority for six in 10 creative firms, but 21% admitted they were struggling to recruit talent from diverse backgrounds, and 48% wanted more help finding diverse employees from underrepresented groups.

In this post, we outline the initiatives in the Bristol Creative Industries Talent Programme which is focused on tackling those challenges.

If you’re not yet a BCI member, join here to take advantage of the member exclusive initiatives.  

If you’d like to join us as a BCI Talent Partner, read the final section of this post.

Equity, diversity and inclusion training for BCI members 

Research shows that diverse teams are more creative problem solvers, bringing fresh perspectives to solutions, against the echo-chamber effect that results when people in a business come from too-similar backgrounds. With a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, employees feel valued and that they belong.

To help Bristol Creative Industries members achieve this, we have partnered with The Hobbs Consultancy to provide on demand equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) e-learning. 

The CPD certified online course consists of modules to help you bring about positive change in your business, understand the key challenges in the way for different groups, and explore your own biases and how to overcome them.

The training modules take an in-depth look at different diversity and inclusion topics: race, disability, LGBTQ+, neurodiversity, gender (split into female leadership, masculinity, gender identity), age and social mobility in the workplace.

The price of the training for BCI members is £120+VAT. All profits will be ploughed back into our youth engagement activity.

To access this brilliant training opportunity, log into your Bristol Creative Industries account and click on the ‘members’ training’ section.

Opportunity to mentor high potential young people

We have to start engagement at school by raising the profile of the creative sector to a wider and more diverse audience. To do this, we’re developing ways to bring together creative business members and future talent through mentoring. 

We are thrilled to have launched a partnership with The Early Careers Foundation (ECF), a social mobility charity that works with young people from low-income backgrounds to ensure that talent and hard work are what determine their career success, not background.

Through its mentoring programme, ECF pairs employees from partner organisations with 16-18-year-olds for monthly hour-long mentoring sessions.

Thanks to our new partnership, BCI members can now become a mentor and support a young person in building their confidence, developing their employability skills and offering invaluable professional guidance.

Applications to become a mentor close on 1 August 2024. 

To find out more about how you can get involved, read this post

Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme

Our groundbreaking Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme with Bristol social enterprise Babbasa launched as a pilot in 2023. It is aimed at young people from diverse backgrounds wanting to gain more insight and real experience in the creative industries.

As well as benefiting the interns, the scheme also educates employers to help them build inclusive workspaces that are ready to welcome young people from low income and underrepresented backgrounds.

Brilliant agencies from the BCI member community stepped up to provide paid placements to a group of fantastic interns during the pilot which resulted in many successes including full time jobs following the placements. 

The programme has returned for 2024 with more creative businesses offering a wide range of roles in marketing, public relations, design, branding and advertising. 

We recently closed applications from potential interns for the second cohort and were delighted to see an increase in responses compared to last year. 

For the latest updates from the programme, keep an eye on our blog and social media (X, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram).

Influencing the curriculum and driving change

We have committed to an annual programme of round tables with key post 16 education providers in the region including colleges, academies and universities. 

Our aim is to promote creative careers to staff and career advisers, drive applications to our internship programme and explore how we can promote the creative industries to students already studying. 

We also have this regularly updated guide to creative industries-related further and higher education courses in Bristol and Bath to make young people more aware of their options. 

Become a Bristol Creative Industries Talent Partner

By joining the programme as a partner, you’ll help to fund all of our activities that support 

underrepresented groups entering the creative industries. Your support is vital to ensure we have a healthy and diverse talent pipeline.

For more details, contact Alli Nicholas, BCI membership and operations manager, at [email protected], or Lis Anderson, BCI co-chair, at [email protected]  

Let’s talk about red flags in a team. Well maybe pink ones. (There’s no pink flag emoji quite yet)

‘I love my team, we get on really well.’

Now I’m not naturally cynical or averse to people having a good time. But I’ve learned to prick up my ears when I hear something like that. If our unit of measurement for a team is ‘how well we get on’ then we’re missing a trick.

Too much focus on how well we get on could be a sign that a team may be falling a bit short on delivering meaningful value to all its stakeholders.

Dig a little deeper and we’ve all been in teams like this:

🚩 Team meetings feel like wasted time, nothing much gets done
🚩 There’s a lack of momentum between meetings, and they often get moved
🚩 You find yourself holding back, not saying what you really think, or not saying anything at all
🚩 There’s a lack of creativity, innovation, risk-taking
🚩 It’s a group of individuals who come together to represent their own vested interests (or their own individual teams)
🚩 There’s a lack of respect or trust between each other, though this is rarely acknowledged. Remember, ‘we get on really well’
🚩 There’s no sense of identity. The team can’t really be effectively defined by anyone not in it. Or perhaps even by those who are in it.
🚩 No material outputs, just time put in
🚩 The team thinks at the level of the functions represented in the room, not at the level of the business or enterprise.
🚩 You dread team meetings when they appear in your diary
🚩 The same subjects get raised time and time again
🚩 No one chairs the meeting effectively, or holds us accountable for timing, actions and delivery
🚩 Stakeholders rarely get a mention
🚩 You’re just going through the motions, but it feels bit disruptive to rock the boat and point this out

Be honest, do you recognise any of these? Perhaps you’re in one right now? Perhaps you even lead one? There’s no judgement here. I’m convinced we’ve all been in this situation. So why the post?

My mind is being blown week after week as I study for my PGCert in Team and Systemic Coaching at Henley Business School . As I organise my many thoughts in the coming weeks, I hope to share them with you on the huge impact of coaching a team as an entity in its own right. If you suspect that a team you’re in could actually be working better, then keep in touch.

Great, impactful teams rarely happen by accident. They take thought and skill to commission and to run. But great teams are where competitive advantage can be found. Teams that are greater than the sum of their parts, rather than less than.

This article was written by Kenz Meadows, Lead Editor of Squarely Magazine. Squarely is The Square Club’s lifestyle magazine; as a member of Bristol’s Best Co-working space, you are able to pick up a complimentary copy! Find out more here.

Best known for the annual Oktoberfest bacchanal, Munich is a patchwork of old and new. The neon signs for gambling halls above an independent Birkenstock shop, monastic breweries and a world famous Glockenspiel just round the corner from the H&M make knowing where to look a bit of a headspin. But knowing where to go is a much easier task to manage. The rich tradition of monastic brewing and the beerhalls Oktoberfest celebrates are just as delightful an experience without the nearly six million international tourists the festival reliably draws each year.

Of course, the guidebooks will tout the most renowned beer halls like the Hofbrauhaus, that are sure to be on everyone’s list. While the beer halls still largely employ table sharing, seating multiple parties at the same table, walk-ins are not typically something this particular hall accommodates–not even in the off season. So, reserve your steins well in advance.

I spoke with Membership Manager, Pelin Yüksel, at our reciprocal Famtain Club, in the heart of the Altstadt–or Old City. A native to Turkey, she had an outsider’s perspective on Munich and how the club fits in to the city’s social scene. “Munich is very business-oriented — I think people have a hard time turning off and having fun. In response, Famtain focuses on being a social club–presenting opportunities for our members to relax, enjoy themselves, and socialize outside of an office environment.” And if you’re foregoing your office watercooler for social engagement, you could do worse than the Famtain. It drips with lush colours, delicate hand-painted wallpaper and extremely inviting furnishings. I could have easily overstayed my welcome. The restaurant has a revolving menu of seasonally appropriate dishes, offering fusion cuisine with effortless expertise.

As regards to Oktoberfest, Yüksel is pleased to offer our members all the same access to amenities their own members receive. However, if the beer halls are hard to get into during the off-season, they’re impossible to reserve for the festival. Book now. Better yet, book yesterday. And be sure to reach out to the Famtain Club when you do, it doesn’t hurt to have an in when arranging your own autumnal jaunt.

If, like I did, you feel compelled to brush up on your high school German speaking skills, I would recommend really committing to it. Nearly everyone in the city spoke enough English to reveal my German for the exercise in futility that it is. While plenty of nations embrace and admire tourists making the effort to speak the local language, I did not get the impression this was one. I would absolutely recommend getting out of the city for an afternoon. I took the train out to Hoehenschwangau, grabbing fresh pretzels and bottles of beer at a stop along the way. Watching the countryside roll by you, warm salty baked good in-hand, is enough to make anyone seriously consider a rural Bavarian lifestyle change.

While the castle was impressive, I was disappointed by the tour at Neuschwanstein Schloss. The quark donuts from a stand down the hill from the castle were ample consolation after the expensive English audio tour though. Back in Munich, the museum I enjoyed most was the Alte Pinakothek. The expansive collection was home to more than a few masters even I, a novice in fine art, was surprised to see in person. My highlight from the trip was absolutely the food, but specifically the food purchased off the cornucopia of vendors in the Viktualienmarkt. Don’t miss the pickles. Seriously.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered the government’s 2024 Spring Budget on 6 March. Here’s a round-up of measures and announcements relevant to businesses in the creative industries.

Spring Budget 2024 measures for creative industries

During his Budget speech, Jeremy Hunt referenced the creative industries. He said:

“We have become Europe’s largest film and TV production centre with Idris Elba, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom all filming their latest productions here.

“Studio space in the UK has doubled in the last three years. At the current rate of expansion, we will be second only to Hollywood globally by the end of 2025.”

In the full Budget document, the government said it is:

“…committed to the success of creative industries, a sector that contributed £125 billion in gross value added (GVA) in 2022 and employs 2.4 million people across the UK.

“In June 2023, the government published the [creative industries] sector vision setting out ambitions to grow the sector by a further £50 billion in GVA and support an additional 1 million jobs.”

The Budget included several announcements specific to the creative industries:

Audio-visual expenditure credit for UK independent films

A new UK independent film tax credit (IFTC) will be introduced at a rate of 53% on qualifying film production expenditure. It will be available for films with budgets under £15m that meet the requirements of a new British Film Institute (BFI) test.

Films will need to meet at least one of the following conditions:

Productions will be able to make claims from 1 April 2025 if the film started principal photography from 1 April 2024.

Find more details here.

Jay Hunt, BFI chair, said:

“The government’s new tax credit is a game changer for UK filmmakers, creating jobs and ensuring great Britsh stories continue to be told. By introducing the uplifted rate, the prime minister and the chancellor are fuelling the growth of the wider screen sector that contributes billions to the UK economy.”

Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive, added:

“This is a dramatic moment for UK film, and the most significant policy intervention since the 1990s. The positive impact will be felt across our industry, and through all the new films that audiences will get to enjoy.

The films we make are vital to our culture expression and creativity – they reflect a diverse and global Britain, and build careers – and we’re grateful to government, the DCMS, the industry and our friends at Pact for working together to realise this historic initiative.”

Audio-visual expenditure credit

Following a consultation at Autumn Statement 2023, the credit rate for visual effects costs in film and high-end TV will be rise by 5% to 39% from April 2025. The 80% cap will be removed for qualifying expenditure for visual effects costs.

Film studios business rates relief

A 40% reduction on gross business rates will be provided to eligible film studios in England until 2034. The government said the relief will be implemented “as soon as possible” with bills backdated to 1 April 2024.

Tax relief for theatres, orchestras, museums, galleries and exhibitions

From 1 April 2025, the rates of theatre tax relief (TTR), orchestra tax relief (OTR) and museums and galleries exhibitions tax relief (MGETR) will be permanently set at 40% (for non-touring productions) and 45% for touring productions.

Find more details here.

National Theatre funding

Funding of £26.4m will be provided to upgrade the National Theatre’s stages and infrastructure.

General measures of interest to the creative industries

The following are announcements not specific to the creative industries but are of interest to businesses in the sector.

National insurance cut for self-employed

Freelancers make up a third of the creative industries so this measure is very relevant to the sector.

From 6 April 2024, the main rate of Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for the self-employed will be reduced from 9% to 6%.

The government claimed that combined with the abolition of the requirement to pay Class 2 NICs announced in the 2023 Autumn Statement, the measure will save an average self-employed person on £28,000 around £650 a year.

National insurance cut for employees

From 6 April 2024, the main rate of employee NICs will be cut by 2p from 10% to 8%.

The government claimed that combined with the 2p cut announced at Autumn Statement 2023, the measure will save the average worker on £35,400 over £900 a year.

VAT threshold increase

The level at which businesses must register for valued added tax (VAT) will increase from £85,000 to £90,000 from 1 April 2024. The government said around 28,000 businesses will benefit in 2024-25 from no longer being VAT registered.

The deregistration threshold, at which businesses can deregister from VAT, will increase from £83,000 to £88,000.

Recovery Loan Scheme extended

The government’s Recovery Loan Scheme, which launched in 2021 to support businesses to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be extended to 31 March 2026. It will be renamed the Growth Guarantee Scheme.

The government guarantees to the lender up of 70% of funding provided to businesses through the scheme. Loans of up to £2m are available for businesses in Great Britain turning over up to £45m. For Northern Ireland businesses, the maximum loan is £1m.

Full expensing

Full expensing allows companies to claim 100% capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery investments. In the 2024 Budget, the government said it will publish draft legislation and seek to extend the scheme to assets for leasing “when fiscal conditions allow”.

 

South West-based brand and communications specialist AgencyUK has announced record growth as evolutions in the company’s culture continue to drive unprecedented levels of performance, despite an economically turbulent period for many.

AgencyUK (AUK) achieved record numbers in their 2023 financial results, following two years of cultural alignment and investment in their new Senior Management Team led by founding members Sammy Mansourpour and Amy Stobie. The business has delivered 220% annual growth in revenue for each financial period since January 2020, putting them on track to becoming one of the UK’s largest independently owned agencies.

“Celebrating 16 years is a seminal moment for the whole agency. It really feels like a transition into adulthood. As an established agency business with a team rich in experience, it is in no small part down to our team embracing creativity and new technology. AI and data analytics have made a meaningful difference to our work, by fuelling our creativity and building in new features around advertising campaign performance. This has been instrumental for our clients, particularly those in the B2B space, where we have a particular foothold in the healthcare sector. And we’ve seen the agency grow exponentially because of it,” says Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director.

In 2021, the Senior Management Team focused on expanding the agency’s client portfolio in the health, life science and pharmaceutical sectors, leading to a record signing of three top-tier new drug development organisations, as well as launching Our Future Health, a nationwide health research programme in partnership with the NHS, which now has over 1.2 million participants across the UK. 

The agency now boasts a stronger B2B portfolio making up 50% of its revenue. The remaining 50% houses well-known food, drink, health and wellbeing brands, including beloved sweet brand Chewits, currently enjoying a renaissance since our amplified brand campaigns and award-winning work across social media.

In response, the agency has expanded its in-house teams by growing its creative department and assembling a new senior management team, recruited from its in-house fast track careers programme. Overall staff numbers have increased by 50% with a further 30% expected to be in place by January 2025.

“We are of course delighted with the performance of the business over the past five years, and we have no doubt that our long-term investment in developing the agency’s culture and staff careers plays a significant part in our success on the bottom line. We welcome turning 16 with open arms,” says Amy Stobie, Director.

The AUK leadership team has embarked on a comprehensive programme of cultural development, sustainability and community outreach. Framed around people, planet and community, these initiatives also form the bedrock of the agency’s commitment to being a certified B Corp since their accreditation in 2021, as well as an award-winning staff development and well-being programme.

Independent human-centred design consultancy Six, has kicked off 2024 in style by promoting Sally Gillo to Partner for Client Experience – making her the sixth member of the Board. Sally will be joining CEO John Argent, Partner for Growth Ruth Clarke, Partner Julian Barclay, Creative Partner Dickon Langdon, and Finance Director Alison Evans.  

Over the last seven years, Sally has played a pivotal role in mentoring and leading the client experience team at Six. Her ability to build strong relationships by consistently delivering exceptional experiences has led to growing and leading the agency’s key accounts, including S&P Global, Lloyds Banking Group and bp.  

As Six enters its 30th year, Sally’s promotion also reflects the agency’s increasingly strategy-first positioning. Central to Six’s growth plans, Sally will help drive the agency’s vision forward: to help every transformative strategy land with impact.   

John Argent, CEO of Six, said, “Sally’s promotion is so well-deserved. Not only is she hugely talented, armed with great vision, energy and pragmatism, she has proved to be an exceptional leader and inspirational mentor within Six. Her drive and fresh perspective perfectly complement the blend of strengths in our Board – and will only help accelerate our progress in pursuit of helping solve our clients’ complex transformation challenges.”

On 24 November, we celebrated the first group of interns who took part in the Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme with Babbasa as part of the OurCity2030 Pathway into Creative & Tech.

We had a wonderful night celebrating everyone’s achievements over the past six months. The graduation event, at the Gather Round co-working space in Bristol, brought together the brilliant interns plus many of the programme contributors, friends and family to reflect on the successes and learnings from the scheme.

We launched the programme earlier this year. It is aimed at young people aged 18-24 from diverse backgrounds wanting to gain more insight and real experience in the creative industries.

Two of the biggest challenges facing the sector are a long-term skills shortage and a lack of workforce diversity. This was highlighted by Bristol Creative Industries’ A Creative Force to Be Reckoned With report which found that increasing diversity and inclusion is a significant priority for six in 10 creative firms in Bristol, but almost half said they want help finding diverse talent from underrepresented groups.

The internship programme was designed specifically to tackle those issues and create more inclusive workplaces. We were delighted that brilliant agencies from the BCI member community stepped up to provide three month placements to the 14 interns:

At the end of the first placement, three of the interns used the experience to explore other projects, while 11 stayed to undertake a second placement.

What happens next: Five of the interns got jobs

As the pilot programme comes to an end, here’s an update on how taking part in the initiative impacted on the interns and what they plan to do next:

Abdifatah Kheyre is going travelling for a while but has some exciting plans to launch a new project with a friend.

Abdur-Rahman Shafi has been offered a continuation at his first placement at Noble where he will be doing an internship extension, with the view for being promotion to digital marketing executive after six months.

Ahmed Ismail is considering his options in design and software development.

Amy Smith has been offered a role as production runner at Aardman on an upcoming project.

Kayjay McDonald-Ferguson is looking to continue with his freelancing projects in design and strategy and is set to start a bootcamp coding course.

Laurel Beckford has been working with Babbasa on the organisation’s social media campaigns and is looking for further work in film production and social media.

Mohd Wani has gone on to study an MA in information experience design at The Royal College of Art.

Omar Ibrahim has started a front-end web development bootcamp and will continue to study whilst trying to get more work experience. He is looking for a junior level role in front-end web development.

Priscilla Kodjo is staying on at her placement at Time Machine Designs as a freelance concept artist.

Sara Matloob has applied to study with the Chartered Institute of Marketing and hopes to build a career focused on public relations and the experiential sector.

Sophie Kirk is continuing to pursue her career in film and television art departments, with her improved graphic design skills opening up more opportunities for freelance work.

Seren Spooner was offered a job as a junior designer at Armadillo, her first placement.

Touka Mostafa led an EDI audit at one of her placements and delivered her findings to the board. She has recently accepted an account executive role at Armadillo, one of the participating agencies.

Yasmina El Khatib hopes to continue her education and study a modelmaking course with a focus on fabrication. For now, she is looking for a design and creative role to allow her to save for her masters.

Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme intern graduation

The impact the programme had on the interns

We asked some of the interns to reflect on taking part in the programme.

”The programme helped me find myself, be a better human and chase my dreams.”
Abdifatah Kheyre

“This internship really has made my dream career happen. The continued support throughout has been great. I have also made some friends that I will have for life.”
Amy Smith

”I took many learnings from the experience, but above all I learnt the importance of being an active learner. In a work setting it is important that you can communicate with the different departments and not be afraid to ask for what you want. In both agencies I felt comfortable to be myself and felt listened to. I like that the internship was tailored to what I needed.”
Kayjay McDonald-Ferguson

”Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always a straight path, and I was never comfortable to put my hand up and say I want to learn more. But I have to say, I’m so glad I sat in the uncomfortable space for a little bit because I pushed past that point, I managed to develop and grow in so many different ways. ”
Touka Mostafa

”I loved seeing how many agencies were interested in diversity and inclusion and I really enjoyed the networking opportunities that came with the internship programme. I also enjoyed learning new skills during our Friday sessions and watching all of the interns develop new skills that they’re proud of.”
Sara Matloob

Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme cohort one: A short film

For more from the interns, participating agencies and other who took part in the programme, watch this brilliant short film: 

The experiences of the participating agencies

The Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme is not possible without the fantastic agencies who take part and provide placements for the young people to gain valuable experience.  

Here, some of the agencies reflect on their experiences:   

“The best businesses need the best talent. The best talent is diverse. This programme has helped us collectively engage that talent.”
Nina Edmunds,
Halo

“We’ve always aspired to have an internship programme that promotes diversity and inclusion and encourages the community to open more doors, yet time and resources have been a barrier to achieving this. By joining forces with Bristol Creative Industries, Babbasa and other member agencies, we were able to make it happen.”
Lucy Rees, Newicon

“Collaborating with peers from other participating creative agencies has been a great experience. It has allowed us to actively contribute to shaping the program while exchanging ideas and learning from one another, particularly in areas around HR, people & culture, and innovative working practices.”
Anthony Butterfield,
Aer Studios

“We wanted to be challenged in our DE&I efforts. We hoped this scheme would help us push forward on our learning and DE&I journey and it has done exactly that.”
Abigail Croft,
Diva

“Our intern was really keen to learn all the different roles within the agency and really engaged in everything she was doing. Seeing her confidence grow each week, so she was asking the right questions to allow her to execute the task in front of her was a real highlight. The fact we could see the talent was there enough to offer her a job shows what an impact she made, and that is the true highlight.”
Jeremy Bourton,
Armadillo

“This amazing opportunity provides a springboard for young people with a paid placement that can really make a difference to their professional development. On the other side of the coin, it’s made me a more rounded professional and helped me to evolve.”
Matt Woodman,
Atomic Smash

“The BCI Internship Programme is a golden opportunity to partner with community-facing organisations. It is a real opportunity to learn as well as teach, whilst being supporting by BCI who follow the interns through the whole process.”
Ceilia Hunt, Aardman Animations

Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme intern graduation

All of the interns are now Bristol Creative Industries members. Please do reach out to them if you are looking for collaborations or for young people to fill junior roles. We will also be welcoming them to Bristol Creative Industries events in 2024, so you will get a chance to meet them.

We look forward to welcoming back the cohort as ambassadors for the programme in 2024 and to help inspire the next group of interns.

Want to get involved and offer placements to interns?

Conversations for the 2024 Bristol Creative Industries Internship Programme have begun with Babbasa as part of the next OurCity2030 Pathway into Creative & Tech.

If you run a creative business in Bristol and are interested in hearing more about how to get involved, contact Bristol Creative Industries membership manager Alli Nicholas on [email protected]

Big thanks to @eljaybriss for the images.