Tag Archives: Birmingham City University

Student Radio AwardsI made it onto BCU’s radio wall of fame… after all the blood sweat and tears haha (so many tears!!)

This was a recent post over on my instagram, many thanks to all at the Student Radio Association, Birmingham City University (The School of Media), BCUSU and of course all whom contributed to the documentary.

Wednesday 8th July I was asked to conduct some vox pops/interviews at the mac birmingham. I felt pretty lucky to be a part of the #BrumIsGreat event, in which I was able to immerse myself amidst individuals who have a large influence on the development and growth of Birmingham. With stakeholders focusing on initiating conversations city-wide there was a great deal of discussion (in fact, all the discussion) focused on the positive, defining aspects of Birmingham. With guests asked to utilise the hashtag: #BrumIsGreat 

I had a really nice time interviewing people who clearly felt very strongly about the city of Birmingham. Birmingham is, in my opinion, a fantastic, vibrant city. There is so much opportunity – something I’ve learnt through the various jobs and research I’ve undertaken, as well as through the individuals whom I met today. It was lovely hearing stories, and positive reflections of the city, as well as learning about aspirations and visions for Birmingham in the future.

I thought I’d list (some) reasons as to why I think #BrumIsGreat… I grew up in Essex, yet I feel incredibly at home here in Birmingham, and I really have grown to love the city.

#BrumIsGreatJoin in with the conversation over on Twitter, using the hashtag #BrumIsGreat

Birmingham City CentreAmidst my rap-fueled walk to uni this morning I was singing along to some new music (in my head, of course…) trying to motivate myself for the day ahead. I woke up mega early this morning to do some washing, and all that generic stuff – in which I randomly met two girls in the lift at my halls (in my, ‘I’ve just woken up’ haze) they eagerly asked me loads of questions about uni, studying my Masters (or – as they said.. WHAT’S THAT?!) They left me in an ace mood – they reminded me of when I used to be in the Air Cadets and I used to explore pretty much everything – the girls were part of a much larger group who are currently staying at my halls as part of their NCS (National Citizen Service). Anyway… the point is they reminded me of my 14 year old self who used to get excited by everything… which left me in that mood where you’re walking down the street – listening to the ultimate playlist and loving life, and then you stumble across little pieces of inspiration (such as the image above) and you’re ready to conquer the world…

Happy Tuesday…  

Recently I was very fortunate to be shortlisted for The Russell Joslin Award by the BBC, an award in memory of Russell Joslin, ‘a much-loved broadcaster and journalist in the region.’

‘The ambition with this award is to provide an opportunity to gain a stepping-stone into the broadcasting industry to a deserving candidate who shares Russell’s passion for stories and commitment to local journalism.’ (BBC, 2015)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the final recipient of the award, however I must express how grateful and humbled I was to be shortlisted, along with seven other deserving individuals. The background to the award is heartbreaking, yet is something which really spoke to me. Russell’s story has been widely publicized in the past; after struggling with mental health issues it was reported that sadly Russell lost his battle and took his own life.

Radio for me is a huge part of my life, but so is discussing mental health. And this opportunity presented me with the chance to find new ways to portray stories that add to the positive representation of mental illness.

The concept of the award is to allow for an individual to gain the opportunity to cover local journalistic stories. Spending four weeks at a local BBC Local Radio Station (West Midlands, Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester or Stoke) as well as two weeks in the newsroom of Midlands Today / Inside Out in Birmingham.

Though I am of course gutted that I didn’t receive the award – I know that I already have a wealth of experience within the radio industry, and the offers whom were shortlisted really aspired to gain further insight and hands-on experience! I was also really really impressed with the other candidates – their concepts and passion reminded why I love the creative industries so much! 🙂 I also had an absolute blast at BBC WM, the team were really lovely, and I’ve made some new friends (both candidates and staff – so, pros and cons aye?)

Being true to myself though… radio isn’t the driving force behind my work, its the portrayal of stories, the crafting of peoples’ experiences and being able to present individuals with a way to express their thoughts and adventures. That to me is what makes radio so fun, it’s the foundation in which radio (or TV) is built upon. I am fascinated by stories, but I have already trained in radio – so I’m already armed and ready with the requisite skills – and my intentions for the near future are to continue making and creating texts’ that demonstrate my passion! (Which currently is Dearest Someone, – and let me tell you… I absolutely love managing and running this site!)

This all sounds rather romantic haha, but I really have been inspired by the guys at the BBC. 

Find out more about the award here: (via. BBC Radio Shropshire).

My background:

Discovering and presenting stories to the world is something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. During the process of working on an audio documentary project entitled ‘Boscastle: 10 Years On’ I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, undeniably I have dealt with a lot – however I chose to blog about my experience, in order to make sense of it all and to speak to others. I have been very overwhelmed by the response my blog received, and I continue to blog regularly about my experience with Mental Health and keeping the discussion of Mental Health ‘Human.’ My Blog, Dearest Someone, strives to give a human feel to a topic that is often perceived as a taboo matter – this is something which I really find passion in.

I find passion in uncovering stories, yet presenting them in a way that has feeling, and others are able to relate. I find great comfort and excitement through my Dearest Someone, blog however I also blog personally – about my everyday life (maybe slightly banal compared to the mental health blog!) I like to explore, and document my adventures. In the future I wish to continue working in a role that allows me to explore and uncover stories, and possibly become an advocate for mental health (primarily PTSD – as it’s not just members of the Armed Forces who struggle with this!)

Russell Joslin

New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programmes

I am incredibly proud to be a part of Scratch Radio, the station based at the Parkside building here at Birmingham City University. Last week the School of Media sent a team out to New York, in which we picked up Silver for ‘Best Student Station.’ There was no Gold presented, which in fact means, we are the best in the world! (Blowing the trumpet here slightly…)

The winning audio featured content which was produced during an intensive two week project, which I managed. Part of my contribution to the station was featured within the award-winning audio (within the first five seconds you can hear me chuckling away). In addition to this a large percentage of the audio was from shows produced by the team I headed when I was project manager of the ‘Two Week Takeover.’

Scratch Radio won International Silver Award in the Best Student Radio Station category. (There was no gold winner). This follows the station’s success in winning the “Midlands” category of the 2014 UK Radio Academy’s Nations and Regions Awards.

The station has received honours at the 2015 New York Radio Festival – International Radio Program Awards for The World’s Best Radio Programs.

Here’s a link to BCU’s press release about the success:

I was really, really lucky to work from Birmingham City University’s new build yesterday. It hasn’t opened to staff, students and the public yet, so I was running around like an excited child looking at everything (making use of the quiet!) Some departments have already moved over and the final touches are underway, and it’s really really special. I’m very proud of my University, this is the second new build that I’ve been lucky enough to experience, and quiet honestly the new library within the Curzon Building is most likely going to be my new home! (It’s that cool haha).

Here’s the view from the top floor (exec. suite, ooh la la) – it’s pretty impressive. I reckon on a sunny day this view is even more amazing. 

I just want to say a massive congratulations to Birmingham City University! Keep shaping the world! 😉

Birmingham City University

BCU Curzon Building

Working as a copywriter is really fun (for me), working as a copywriter within a higher education institution has enabled me to work on some pretty cool, and ‘out-of-the-box’ projects. Most recently (today in fact) I’ve been writing up a document concerning one of our postgraduate courses: Professional Voice Practice. 

I’ve been gathering information concerning this course (and many others) for a few weeks now, and last week I interviewed the course director (who was ace) and now I’m making the final touches to the copy. I’ve really enjoyed writing copy for this course as voice practice is something which I’ve always been interested in. I trained as a vocalist when I was younger, and have always been fascinated by certain aspects of the vocal anatomy. (I think it’s ace that some people can sing/can’t sing, etc.) And I am absolutely in love with so many different singing voices – it’s always the voice that I go for when it comes to music genres.

When I’m writing copy for subjects I’m not too familiar with I always do my research and gather an understanding of the topic – to ensure that I don’t make any inaccurate statements. Yesterday I learnt a great deal about the English Renaissance, and the British Tradition of theatre. (As you can probably tell I’ve been working with the Birmingham School of Acting). Today I’ve been vamping up my knowledge of voice practice – learning all about the anatomy and physiological principles that govern healthy vocal practice and much much more…

I’ve also learnt about ethics, phonetics, philosophical issues and so forth. And I absolutely love it!

I’m not going to start preaching about professional voice practice (my knowledge isn’t really that vast… but if you do want to learn then you should take up the course ;] ).

I just think it’s really cool that I’m learning such an oddly diverse bunch of subjects through my role as a copywriter, and it’s pretty fun!

For me it is tricky to select a primary interest in regards to the creative industries and culture; my key interests change as I gain more experience within the industry. I am quite interested in radio production – in terms of documentaries with an intended demographic that represents me. However I have recently developed an interested in social media: its usage and application to topical debates. This leads me to consider the extent in which social media is relative to creative and cultural debates. ‘Social media’ is a very broad interest – honing down this area to include other interests such as deciphering how social media is utilised by ‘creative businesses’ within Birmingham (or other locations) could provide an interesting point of study for me.

I’ve also very recently become interested in digital democracy and the use of online tools within politics – I’d like to find a way to relate this to research, I feel the most feasible way is to consider consumption. However, this is still a work in progress.

I am also interested in the ‘cultural turn’ – the shift from cultural to creative industries and how this is emulated within policymaking – something which has developed from previous personal research concerning the Creative Industries and Cultural Policy. I feel that a key focus for me currently is to examine participation within the cultural industries, whether this is through social network analysis or the study of cultural policy.

To summarise:

  • I am interested in the production of cultural policy and how this affects (in a measurable extent) the consumption/participation of creative and cultural activities. In a sense here the production is the policymaking process – which would be an interesting point of study.
  • I’m interested in creative and cultural participation within Birmingham (also how this compares to other cities.) I could observe social media usage – for example a creative business in Birmingham could use social media as a tool for increasing participation.

Related sources:

Bakhshi, H., and Throsby, D. (2010). Culture of Innovation: An Economic Analysis of Innovation in Arts and Cultural Organisations. Nesta.

Bilton, C. (2012). Manageable Creativity. International Journal of Cultural Policy: Creativity and Cultural Policy. Vol 16, No 3, pp. 25-39.

Boda, S. et al., (eds) (2006). When Culture Makes the Difference: Heritage, Arts and Media in Multicultural Society. Rome: Melter ni Editore.

Johanson, K., Glow, H., and Kershaw, A. (2014). New modes of arts participation and the limits of cultural indicators for local government. Poetics. Vol 43, pp. 43-59.

Production Cultures

Key Reading:

Bilton, C. (2012) ‘Manageable Creativity’. International Journal of Cultural Policy – Special Issue on ‘Creativity and Cultural Policy’ ed. C. Bilton,Vol. 16, No 3, pp. 255 – 269.

Dealing with Creativity

I feel that the notion of ‘creativity’ is a very perplex term – it appears to be used in a manner of ways, which adds to the confusion. Though, Bilton addresses this: ‘paradox and contradiction are at the core of most theoretical definitions of creativity.’ (2012: 28) Bilton’s argues that within cultural policy there is an ‘assumption that original creative ideas and talented individuals will have a transforming effect on the wider creative economy.’ (2012: 30)

Bilton’s article argues that the idea of ‘manageable creativity’ can be traced back to a ‘heroic’ and a ‘structural’ model of creativity. He explores how these two models translate into management and policy. The key theorist Bilton utilises is Levitt, applying the notion of destructive creativity to these two models.

Heroic Model

This model highlights the transforming impact of a dynamic, visionary creative individual on a business. The heroic model is in favour of an individualistic, trait-based theory of creativity. Though, as Bilton highlights, the heroic model is based upon a perception of ‘creativity’ that originates from a business view – there is a lack of focus or analysis of creative processes and products. Bilton argues that this model has already been ‘widely discredited’ yet the assumptions behind this model continue to influence the attitudes in managing ‘creativity’.

Bilton’s Key arguments on heroic creativity:

  • Heroic creativity represents a one-sided definition of creative processes and people.
  • Heroic creativity locates creativity within a minority of exceptional individuals.
  • Heroic creativity is likely to be concentrated within certain organisations (Apple/Google), geographical territories or in specific communities and cultures, rather than as a distributed ‘normal’ human trait.
  • Heroic creativity is hierarchical – because it is innate to an individual or specific place.
  • Heroic creativity assumes that these individuals transform the world around them.

‘Today’s managers regard the effects of creative destruction and disruption as essentially benign, and the creative individual as contributing to the greater good, not driven by essentially selfish or self-actualising motives.’

(Bilton, 2012: 29)

One particular statement which stood out for me is the following:

‘Because creative individuals are both privileged and marginalised, they find themselves insulated from the realities of the business, much like a ‘gifted and talented’ child among their peers. Not surprisingly this isolation can lead to dysfunction and self-destruction.’

(2012: 30)

If managerial actions are still being influenced by heroic creativity then one questions what is being done – if anything – to counteract the previous statement. Does this tie in with the drive for economic growth as a key focus of creative work – or does the management of creativity demonstrate a ‘human’ notion, in the sense that managers consider wellbeing?

Interestingly Bilton suggests that within the heroic creativity ‘creative individuals remain for the most part outside the policy process.’ (2012: 32) Suggesting that the managerial approach to heroic creativity is a kind of non-management, laissez-faire attitude – then does heroic creativity complement the notion of art for art’s sake?

Structural Model

‘Theories of creativity have moved beyond individual, person-based approaches towards collective, process-based models.’ (Bilton 2007/2010) This is a significant shift as it paves the way for theoretical literature and a focus on an interest in ‘teams, networks and organisational environments as sources of innovation.’ (Bilton, 2012: 28)

My interpretation of the structural model is largely influenced by the notion that ‘creative processes rely upon our knowledge and experience within this field, and networks of like-minded others help us to access these resources.’ (2012: 33) Bilton refers to the structural model as a ‘sociocultural’ model of creativity, which – in my opinion – sums up the model perfectly when one considers the heroic model. Does the structural model accommodate to those whom the heroic model fails to serve? Or does it consider creativity as a larger, communitarian process?

‘The sociocultural model of creativity fits with a growing emphasis on organisational culture as the source of organisational mission and purpose, with a ‘transformational’ model of leadership.’

(2012: 33)

Bilton implies that a shift towards ‘collective creativity’ (structural creativity) is apparent in the creative industries, and that there is an emphasis in terms of management on creativity and systems which facilitate creative talent as opposed to the heroic model – the creative talent itself.

Key arguments concerning the structural model:

  • The structural model assumes a predictable relationship between inputs and outcomes.
  • The model locates individual creativity in a broader context of a creative economy based on knowledge, ideas and innovation – creativity is made manageable – but loses it’s critical, disruptive edge as highlighted by Levitt.
  • Creative systems and their outcomes are assumed benign.

I question whether structural, sociocultural creativity in relation to cultural policy fails to consider the purpose of the art (in a sense that it is for personal development, spiritual gain etc.) Or does the structural model consider the purpose of art solely as an output from a collective of creatives whom work toward a capitalist gain? Bilton discusses NESTA’s argument for ‘a connection between creativity and ‘innovation’, where artistic creativity is seen not as an end in itself but embedded within a process of innovation and entrepreneurship.’ (2012: 34) I feel here that the term creative is suitably positioned in the term ‘creative industries’ – art is for an industrial purpose, whether that’s through a heroic, individualistic model, or a collective-creativity, sociocultural focused model of managing creativity – does cultural policy cultivate this?