More than half a million awarded by Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund, addressing creative skills shortages and employment barriers

9 January 2023
By Amy Zamarripa Solis

Foundation for Future London has announced the latest round of grant recipients for the third year of the Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund, a £10 million five-year creative programme, launched in 2021 with founding partner retailer Westfield Stratford City.

Foundation for Future London is a major funder, fundraiser and creative placemaker for the East London communities surrounding the new East Bank cultural quarter being developed on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  The grant, which was developed to create opportunities for local communities, will deliver more than £600,000 worth of funding for projects in the local community.

Amidst London’s higher than UK average rates of unemployment and staff shortages, the creative employment programme based in Stratford, London, will help create nearly 500 new jobs as part of its funding of 37 projects addressing locally sourced upskilling solutions.

The projects include, a women-led textiles cooperative, a start-up accelerator and a free creative programme for East London schoolchildren. As well as creative careers and film employability training, mentoring for young people and a yearly print prize that will engage over 500 young people to use their creativity to produce an “ecological renaissance”.

Now in its third year, the open-access Fund has already awarded a total of £2,011,194 to 133 projects.

Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, CEO, Foundation for Future London says: “A key aspect of the success of the Foundation for Future London’s Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund is that it is providing East Londoners of all ages and backgrounds and enhance the skills needed to forge a career in the creative sector.

“We are supporting and working with arts, culture and heritage sectors that are investing in doing more to open doors to local people and funders who are listening to what people need and want to deliver the resources to make this happen. Our success is how our Fund supports creatives, communities, and organisations through our Capacity Building Programme, supporting grantees to grow their projects.”

Alyson Hodkinson, Head of CSR UK and General Manager at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield says: “We’re proud to see even more talented young people from East London benefit from the latest round of grant recipients in Year 3 of the Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund. As founding partner to the Fund, we remain committed to supporting and inspiring young people to achieve their full potential and these grants are critical to ensuring individuals are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as the wider community.”

Year 3 Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund statistics:

  • 10 Large projects (£394,225), 14 Medium projects (£209,864) and 13 Small projects (£64,622)
  • Borough spread – Hackney 57% Tower Hamlets 68% Waltham Forest 35% Newham 54%
  • New grantees – 42%
  • Grantees progressed through grant scheme levels – 27%
  • Expected number of beneficiaries – 6,524
  • Expected number of events/activities – 1,37
  • Expected number of employment opportunities created – 476
  • Over 80% focus on all ethnicities and all young age groups

Grant Benefactors

Sarah Karpanen, Editor and Founder of Women of the Wick says:

“Since COVID-19, the gender pay gap has worsened across all sectors, including the creative and freelance industries, with women from Global Majority backgrounds experiencing greater financial losses. WOWZINE provides cross-disciplinary educational workshops and networking opportunities that support women breaking into the creative and media industries.”

“The fashion and textile industry in East London is always growing, but it can still feel inaccessible for many of the women we work with who are working-class, often unemployed, and from Bangladeshi or other ethnic minority backgrounds,” says Eleanor Tull, from Tower Hamlets social enterprise British Bangladeshi Fashion Council, who partnered with charity Streets of Growth to create the INSPIRE Textiles Cooperative & Start-Up Accelerator.

“One local women and mother, Ruhela Begum, who was supported to grow her enterprise with work opportunities and access to studio space, is now a key partner in delivering this project and will be a role model for women involved in the project.”

Eastside CEO Matt Lane, who hosts the Creative Schools Programme, which offers arts education and CPD for teachers across East London, adds: “The funding will make a real difference within school communities who are already challenged by the cost-of-living crisis, pressures on school budgets and cuts in funding for cultural organisations,”

Matt Bell, Co-Founder of Young London Print Prize adds: “There is so much creative talent in young people and yet arts education is under intense pressure in the state system, the funding gives children in Newham and Tower Hamlets a chance to express their artistry and understand how powerful it is. It builds their confidence, ambition and self-esteem in extraordinary ways.”

New grantee Hannah Nichols, who will making somatic healing tools available for those who are living in traumatized bodies, says, “The funding will support new skills, training, employment and learning in the creative sectors through providing our team with trauma-informed practices training. Through this grant we are employing six freelance movement and healing-specialized artists.”

Detta Danford, a musician, coach and educator who will run a coaching and mentoring project delivered by for young East London artists adds: “These spaces are vital for supporting young people to gain confidence and have the skills to act as agents of change within their communities,” says “We want to develop their vision for the future, to move with confidence towards that vision and to support each other and their communities through peer mentoring and support.”

Full List of Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund Year 3 Grantees and Projects

Large Grant Scheme

  • Art Clubbers CIC, S.Y.N.C
  • Baking on the spectrum, Baking Works
  • Coffee Afrik CIC, Resilience, Empowerment & Growth
  • Eastside Educational Trust, Creative Schools
  • London School of Architecture, LSA x Building Culture EPQ Programme
  • Magic Me, Artworks
  • Makeda Makes, Side Hustle Hack Shop
  • Sirlute, Create A Future
  • Streets of Growth, INSPIRE Textiles Cooperative & Start-Up Accelerator
  • Young Urban Arts Foundation, Born to Be Great

Medium Grant Scheme

  • Artillery CIC, Value: an artist incubator for 2023
  • Beyond a Song CIC, The Healing Tour
  • Beyond The Box, Sonic Sounds of East London
  • CALLING4GR8NESS C.I.C, Voice 4 Action
  • Caramel Rock, Stitch to Work
  • Digiroots CIC, Future Founders Accelerator Programme
  • Mouth That Roars, MTR Futures
  • Performance Infinity Creative CIC, Play with Your Food (PYF) Creative Incubator – Pilot Project 2023
  • Skaped, Skaped Volunteer Programme
  • St Margaret’s House, Culture Routes
  • The Open Art Club, The Open Art Club
  • Xconversation CIC, The Atone Change & Inspire Programme
  • Young London Print Prize CIC, Young London Print Prize
  • Yucan CIC, Yucan Shine

Small Grant Scheme

  • Urbiana, “Make in East London”
  • Creative Minds Arts Group (CMAG), Design For Us
  • Detta Danford, Young Arts Leaders Mentoring Programme (YAL)
  • Eleanor Pearce, Aspire Portrait Project
  • Hannah Nichols, Coming Home: Embodiment Tools for Reconnecting
  • Kamila Szymkiewicz, It’s Our Time
  • Knock The Door Down, Londoni Memoirs
  • London Rhymes Limited, The Magpie Mums: EP release!
  • Maya Productions Ltd, Diverse Voices 2023
  • Mindful Peak Performance CIC, BAM! Boxing & Mindfulness Courses for Young Carers – Overcoming barriers and reaching your goals
  • Stories & Supper, Cultivating Solidarities: writing and growing with young people and refugees in Waltham Forest
  • The Community Hub, Financial Smarties
  • Women of the Wick, WOWZINE Media for Creative Entrepreneurs: Stage 2

Year 4 of Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund will open for applications in 2023. For more information about Year 3 grantees or the Capacity Building Programme, please see

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