Creative Hubs Academy is live
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Creative Hubs Academy is live


Creative hubs – whether physical or virtual – are spaces for creative and social entrepreneurs to connect and support one another while developing their businesses in a nurturing environment.

For the past 15 months, together with British Council and Hivos, we’ve been developing a new learning programme for leaders and convenors of the creative hubs that serve communities in the fields of creative, digital and social innovation.

Based on research and five pilot workshops, the programme has been designed for hub leaders to take a step back from their day-to-day-work and gain new skills and insights to help them shape and grow their hub offers.

Introducing... Creative Hubs Academy

The new name for the programme is Creative Hubs Academy, reflecting the aim of bringing hub leaders together as a community of practice. It is aimed at leaders who have typically been in the role for a few years and want to increase the impact of their hub. The hub leaders go through the programme as a cohort in order to share experiences and learn from each other over time.

The programme provides a structured and supportive learning environment. The content is based around three skills development areas that we identified through our research with creative hubs, and are key for hub leaders to be successful. These are:

1. Leading

Strong leadership is central to sustaining any kind of successful hub, and great hub leaders create opportunities, mobilise resources, and demonstrate value to their teams and audience.

Examples of this might be uniting a creative community, increasing the diversity of their hub’s users, or bringing new skills into their team.

2. Innovating

Managing a hub involves testing ideas and systematically improving them. It’s also critical to closely link planning and delivery with vision and strategy. Great hub leaders are flexible, resourceful and opportunistic, and possess tenacity and dedication.

Examples of this might include brokering new collaborations, developing new offers for their hub, or pooling resources.

3. Connecting

Hub leaders connect creative practice with business and audiences. Great hub leaders engage diverse stakeholders, generate multiple incomes from varied sources, and seize opportunities.

Examples of this might include conducting research to understand their community needs or curating content to increase the visibility of their work.

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Three parts to the programme

The Creative Hubs Academy programme is made up of three core parts – a three day workshop; learning in action back at their hubs; and a two day coaching retreat – all led by an experienced creative professional and learning facilitator.

Part 1: Capacity building workshop

This interactive and immersive workshop is made up of a series of learning modules, whilst giving participants plenty of time to ask questions and practice new techniques. Throughout, there are presentations, networking with more experienced hub leaders, and opportunities for participants to receive constructive input from experts and their peers on the challenges they face.

  • Day 1 focuses on the participants’ mission: why they do what they do, what challenge they’re trying to tackle and what change they’re trying to create.
  • Day 2 introduces ways that participants can improve the impact of their hub for different audiences and users. It also tackles the issues and challenges that are core to the hub’s mission.
  • Day 3 draws the already completed work together. The final sessions reveal how the three days of work have built the basis for a new or refreshed business plan, and participants finish confident about their action plans for the future and their learning objectives for the next six months to get there.

Part 2: Learning in action

After the workshop, participants return to their hubs and begin putting their plans into action. Participants will continue their learning journey by reconnecting online and engaging in events and opportunities as identified in their action plans.

Part 3: Coaching retreat

Three to six months after the capacity building workshop, participants come back together. Participants revisit some of the key insights from the capacity building workshop, review the action plans that were taken back to the hubs, and receive feedback.

By the end, they’ll have a clearer understanding around what effective actions and behaviours look like in realising plans, as part of continuous development as hub leaders.

What’s next

We’re excited to be launching the first full programme with 25 hub leaders in Indonesia this month. We are testing different co-facilitation models at the workshops and retreats throughout the year, involving UK and local facilitators, hub leaders and delivery partners who can contribute to the learning programme and build a legacy for the future.

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Download the new Creative Hubs Academy leaflet

The new Creative Hubs Academy leaflet explains the programme in more depth.


Matt Payne

Matt Payne

Matt Payne

Learning Services Manager

Matt was a Learning Services Manager in the Innovation Skills team, he also led on the Creative Hubs programme.

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Kimberley Ballantyne

Kimberley Ballantyne

Kimberley Ballantyne

Learning Content Manager

Kimberley works in the Partnerships team as a Learning Content Manager.

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Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Isobel Roberts

Content and Communications Manager, Innovation Skills

Isobel worked in the Innovation Skills team as Content and Communications Manager, helping to build Nesta's learning and development offering.

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Sonja Dahl

Sonja Dahl

Sonja Dahl

Director, Innovation Skills

As Director, Sonja led the team responsible for spreading innovation skills and strengthening the conditions that allow innovation to thrive.

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