Inspiration

Pitch It!

Isabel Farchy and Louise Wellby (them up there) are the people behind Pitch It! an initiative to encourage teenagers in Hackney with lesser access to creative industries to be interested in pursuing a career in them. Josh Jones got them to tell us all about it below and if you want to know more about how you or youngsters you know can get involved, they’re having an event on Friday, click here.

So then, what’s Pitch It! all about?
Baaaaasically, Pitch It! is about making the creative industries more accessible to people who don’t have super duper connections and can’t afford to do unpaid internships and inspiring young people. Hackney is a ‘creative hub’ and one of the most affluent boroughs in London but also has one of the highest percentages of NEET’s (16-24 year olds not in education, employment or training). We’ve teamed up with Eat Work Art to work with the residents and creative professionals in Hackney providing a flexible and supportive framework for them to be mentors. We short-list Hackney’s best, creative young talent and make it easy for mentors to support them.

How did it start and who’s behind it all?
Erm… me? And my co-founder Louise. I was working as a teacher in an inner city London Academy and a lot of my students were so bright and talented, but doing work experience in uninspiring places like their local newsagent or supermarket, mainly because they didn’t have access to the right network of people, but also because they didn’t really know what jobs were out there. We started running speed-networking sessions for students to have the chance to meet creative professionals. We wanted to design something that had a more lasting impact and allowed mentors to build a meaningful relationship with their mentees. So Pitch It! was born. Now it’s a six-week programme where students pitch themselves to a panel of mentors, Dragon’s Den style, and mentoring and work experience follows. Mentors work with students on goals they have set for themselves, which can be anything from learning a piece of software or writing a CV, to creating their own showreel. We had one student who’s goal was to meet Beyoncé. Nothing’s impossible we say…

It’s only for the youngsters right? What kind of ages are we talking about?
Yep, for 16-19 year old’s still in full-time education. We’re trying to reach out to students and raise their aspirations early on. To get them practicing the skills they need and getting experience in a professional setting so that by the time they leave education, they’re ready to hit the ground running. Working in the creative industries, especially freelancing, is all about putting yourself out there. Feeling comfortable meeting new people and persuading them you’re the best person for the job, or even that a job they hadn’t thought about needs doing and you’re ready to do it. A lot of the students we work with don’t feel able to do that because they’re not used to speaking to anyone outside their network of friends, teachers and parents.

How can people get involved?
I’m glad you asked that Josh. It just so happens that we’re putting on a panel discussion this Friday at The Russet with help from Fountain of Youth – ‘I don’t have an uncle at Channel 4… so is a creative career out of the question?‘ with speakers coming down from Intern Magazine and Let’s Be Brief. So if people are interested in finding out more, they should come on down.

Will you have Dragon’s Den-like catchphrases?
So far no. It might feel a little cruel if our mentors starting declaring, “I’m out” or asking a-lá Paphitis “Why would I risk £x of my children’s inheritance on you?” after hearing a 16-year-old, trembling with nerves, talk about how much they love drawing but have never had the confidence to think of it as a career.
We are however, encouraging a more Meaden style, “This is where I’m at,” where the panel of mentors give feedback about the pitches and areas students might think of moving into.

Photo: Tom Medwell
Interview: Josh Jones