The glass is half full. It’s definitely not empty - The Producers' Forum responds to Channel 4 announcement


Whilst we are all disappointed by the news this week that Channel 4 are not coming to Birmingham. I want to take this opportunity to look forward and say what next? What do we want our creative screen sector to look like? Now we know we aren’t shackled by a traditional broadcaster we can shape our region in a way that makes sense to us. This is our time to build on the momentum and sense of collaboration that has developed over recent months by dint of the Channel 4 conversations. We’ve seen the region’s policymakers get behind the Creative Industries in a big way. Andy Street’s comment after the announcement is indicative of this. “We will bounce back and look for new ways to support and build on our creative sector's strengths.”

This is what we must do and the Producers’ Forum is here to bring the screen community together and lobby for the support we want, to shape our future, our way.

The Creative Industries is now a key sector within both the GSBLEP and WMCA industrial strategy. It is seen as a high growth sector that should be supported by them. On top of this the West Midlands Screen Bureau has taken the lead on catalysing the strategy on the ground over the next two years.

As the Producers' Forum we have an important role to play in shaping our future, but we can’t do it without you, our members. As the only membership organisation representing the screen community in the West Midlands, we can bring, what has to date been a very disparate community, together. We are stronger together and can make our voices heard better together.

What I think is exciting about this region is the breadth of screen activity happening. We’ve got the drama village in Selly Oak, games cluster in Leamington Spa, a vibrant screen cluster in Digbeth doing everything from factual TV, to animation to content for brands and a great digital cluster in the Jewellery Quarter to name but a few.

My vision for The Producers’ Forum is to bring these communities together so that we can share skills and knowledge and together we can ensure a vibrant and sustainable creative economy in the region.

Today converged media audiences move from screen to screen seamlessly. As screen content creators we are all storytellers. That’s what we do. We use a screen to tell a story, it doesn’t matter what platform you are producing content for – be it a mobile, a laptop, a TV or a cinema screen. Whatever role you do you we welcome you as a member to join our community and help it grow together.

The Producers’ Forum is more than just about bringing the screen community together. We have three pillars of our operations - Training, Lobbying and Connecting.

For me, connecting is all about joining the dots up, getting people together and getting the conversation going. It is important that we do this within the region both with our members as well as key sector organisations. It’s also important that we are here to connect with those looking to move to our region for work and ensure they connect with us while they are working here.

The key for me with connecting is that we have a physical home in the centre of the where the creative action is happening. A place where creatives at all levels can come together. A place where key sector organisations come together as well. Think of it as a shared work space, a temporary production office, a workshop and seminar space and as a place to connect up with the community. I am working hard to make this happen for us and hope to be able to announce something very soon.

Lobbying is about working on behalf of our members to ensure that we lobby policy-makers to ensure that policy supports and enables us to deliver our work in the best way we can. As a sector intermediary we are well-placed to do this and are regularly asked to consult on policy initiatives. To do this most effectively we must be listening to you, our members, so that we know what the temperature of the water is out there and where the issues and challenges are for you. So please, talk to us. Come to our events. Get in touch.

Training is about building a robust and sustainable talent pipeline in the region. We want to be developing individuals and companies for the lifetime of their work. We want to ensure that our members know what training and funding they can access for their work or their company. Where there are gaps in training provision, we will look to fill these. So, whether you are new to the industry and trying to find your feet, looking to step up to the next level or running a creative business that wants to grow The Producers’ Forum is here to support you.

I won’t pretend this isn’t a hugely ambitious vision but what I can say is in the time I’ve been in post, a couple of months now, this vision has been well received.

It’s not all been work, work, work either. To celebrate the end of another busy year we’ve just announced a Freelancers’ Christmas Party on 6th December it’s going to be a fun night and we’ve secured quite bit of money behind the bar too!

The year ahead is going to be exciting we know there are big changes and opportunities ahead for our sector so please come and join us for the ride.

Alison Grade

CEO, The Producers’ Forum