Winner of £50,000 Cultural Innovation Fusion Prize Announced

29 October 2020
By Amy Zamarripa Solis

Culture Mile, in partnership with Foundation for Future London, today (29 October) announced Nate Agbetu and Ayo Fagbemi as winners of the £50,000 FUSION PRIZE.

The inaugural Fusion Prize aims to use creativity to upskill future generations to succeed in the 21st century and develop the ‘fusion skills’ that are essential for the modern workplace – a mix of communication, thinking, organisational and creative skills.

The winning project The Pattern is created by creative strategists Nate Agbetu and Ayo Fagbemi, who have formed Play Nice – a social enterprise building intersections between communities, in a time when they are needed most.

The Pattern is an alternative curriculum for young people aged over 18 and no longer in full time education, to access the creative and cultural industries, which have previously been out of reach. Their programme will be created by and for fringe communities, including the Latinx community, the QTIPOC (Queer, Transgender and Intersex People of Colour) space, Muslim Sisterhood and the UK Student Climate Network.

By the end of the programme, The Pattern aim to create a team of trained cultural producers (‘Patterners’), with the know-how of how to put their creativity to use and galvanise their communities to explore theirs. The ripple effects of creating work like this will help to engage and support families, cultural development in local councils and create a talent pipeline that will help teachers and the education system in assisting the growth of their students.

Winners of the Fusion Prize, The Pattern’s Ayo Fagbemi and Nate Agbetu said: We are gassed to win the Fusion Prize, as it allows us to actualise our dream of helping young people across so many different intersections of life. From climate activists to queer and trans people of colour who’ve never had the doors of the cultural industry opened to them. This is a chance for them to not just take up space, but to claim it as theirs, and we’re just excited to give them all a seat at the table so that they can build the future they want to see.”

The Fusion Prize shortlist also included digital badging for cultural activities, training for the growing profession of experience designers, a model to turn schools into hotbeds of creativity, a podcast and digital platform nurturing new kinds of artistic and journalistic talent and high calibre digital media training.

The winner was announced in a virtual ceremony, hosted by the Lord Mayor, with an introduction by poet and former Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi.

Lord Mayor of the City of London, William Russell said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the social and economic inequalities in our society more than ever before – and young people are some of the hardest hit. The Fusion Prize is now even more necessary to ensure our young people develop the essential 21st century skills for today’s working world”.

A former secondary school teacher, Caleb Femi said
“As the furlough scheme comes to an end this October, we find ourselves in an even more unstable and volatile landscape. Students leaving the education system with just their predicted grades to show for it, will question the tools that they have been equipped with and wonder if they are the right ones required to survive in this society. These tools are problem solving, creativity innovation, the autonomy to envisage a new possibility and a new future. Also, the mental dexterity to make careers for yourself and make society a more efficient place and a more equal place for everyone.“These are the tools that you need to have to survive in such an uncertain landscape and I welcome new approaches, such as the Fusion Prize, that encourage students to think creatively, to exercise their imagination and problem-solve in unique, innovative, exciting ways. “

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, said:

“There was something phenomenal about The Pattern. It provides a very strong model that practically builds fusion skills through real life projects that are meaningful to communities. The jury were blown away by the passion and commitment of the team driven by their own lived experience. We saw the potential in The Pattern to be developed into something that would endure and have long lasting impact, the excitement of the team was electric. This is the energy that compels a young person to go further, we can’t wait to see what happens next.

Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, CEO, Foundation for Future London, said:

“The Foundation for Future London is proud to fund this innovative prize. We’ve been impressed by the finalist teams’ high level of collaboration, creativity and thoughtfulness in shaping and refining their ideas to improve employability for the next generation. The winning proposal from The Pattern has a unique opportunity to make a big impact on the lives of young people.”

Fusion Prize – The Shortlist

AWAKE, a 12-week programme for 18-25 year olds, will introduce the concept of Experience Design to those who have never considered a career in the creative industries before, creating a new generation of designers with new, original ideas.

The Great Create’s daily creative challenge programme inspires schools to think differently, using initiative and ingenuity to take risks, solve problems, be resourceful and have fun.

KNOLO aims to overhaul today’s outdated qualifications system. It uses digital badging to formally recognise essential skills, learnt through young people’s hobbies and passions, like teamwork, collaboration and communication for today’s working world.

Muted Media is a media programme for marginalised young people that gives the most vulnerable in society a chance to have their voices heard, creating podcasts, articles, music and documentaries to tell their stories.

The Nexus programme provides hands-on work experience for young Londoners. Working for local charities to tackle issues they feel passionate about, they’ll use new digital media formats, such as interactive graphic design, social media, podcasts, 360-degree video and augmented reality to hone modern day workplace skills, receiving a recognised digital qualification.

The Pattern celebrates London’s rich fringe community culture, with an alternative curriculum for the people at the forefront of cultural shifts in their city. Sharing ideas and learning the practical skills needed to programme a series of live projects that could include fundraisers, large-scale protest movements, all-night parties to seminars, lectures and workshops –tailored to the specific needs of the community.

The prize is judged by a panel of cultural leaders, entrepreneurs, and education and business experts, led by Museum of London director Sharon Ament, with Sanaz Amidi,

Juliet Can, Alison Coward, Alison Gowman, Stephen Heppell, Clive Holtham and Asif Khan. For judging panel biographies click here.

The competition was set up in response to evidence that participation in cultural activities can help develop fusion skills. Since its launch last year, passionate individuals and teams from across London have been invited to work together to pitch ideas for innovative programmes or products that are designed to develop the skills of London’s young people and children through cultural experiences.


Press Information
For further information, images or to arrange interviews contact:

Anna Dabrowski, +44 7921219144

Amy Zamarripa Solis +44 7854 658873

Celia Bailey +44 7930442411

Images and video can be downloaded here

Notes to Editors

Fusion skills are made up of:

  1. Communication skills: Being clear and concise when talking, writing or collaborating, and being a good listener and presenter.
  2. Thinking skills: Showing initiative, thinking critically and being able to analyse, evaluate and problem solve.
  3. Organisational skills: Planning well and making the best use of your time when working independently or with others. Being adaptable, flexible and resilient.
  4. Creative skills: Being imaginative and having original ideas as well as well as making connections across complex concepts.

About Culture Mile

Culture Mile is the City of London’s new cultural district, stretching from Farringdon to Moorgate. Led by the City of London Corporation, with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London, the five partners are together creating a vibrant, creative area in the north-west corner of the Square Mile. Alongside animating the whole district with imaginative collaborations and events, delivering major enhancements to the streets and improving wayfinding, Culture will be working with organisations from across the City to build a world-class hub of creativity, innovation and learning that delivers economic growth and social mobility for London.

Culture Mile Learning brings together organisations across the City and beyond to work together on an unprecedented scale to build a world-class learning destination. Culture Mile Learning specialises in the fusion of the creative, thinking, communication and organisational skills needed by today’s employers, and includes a diverse range of venues including Keats House, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Epping Forest.

Foundation for Future London

Foundation for Future London is an independent charity created to connect communities, the new East Bank and its globally renowned arts, innovation and cultural partners to ensure East Bank is London’s must-visit destination and becomes a resilient, thriving, world-class neighbourhood of local and global significance. We’re fundraising to expand grant-making opportunities for East Bank communities and partners and facilitating placemaking, to support local places, learning, training and employment through arts, education, culture and innovation. Our vision is for a vibrant and inclusive creative East Bank, creating authentic engagement with local people of East London in the boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

About East Bank

East Bank is a new global centre of creativity, learning and innovation being built on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London. East Bank is a unique collaboration between world-leading universities, arts and culture institutions, which will open up opportunities for everyone who visits, lives and works in East London. East Bank partners include: BBC, Sadler’s Wells, UAL’s London College of Fashion, University College London (UCL) and V&A. The scheme will receive £385 million from the Mayor of London, £151 million from Government and £10 million from Westfield Stratford City towards providing skills and jobs, lifelong learning, business and entrepreneur opportunities for local people, bring in the creative, arts, innovation and placemaking sectors.

About Culture Mile’s core partners.

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. The City of London Corporation is working together with the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and Museum of London to deliver Culture Mile.

Culture Mile and East Bank Organisations include:

Barbican, Barbican & Community Libraries, BBC, City Business Library, City Gardens, City of London Corporation, City of London family of schools, City of London Police Museum, Epping Forest, Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Library, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood, Keats House, London College of Fashion, London Metropolitan Archives, London’s Roman Amphitheatre, London Symphony Orchestra, Monument to the Great Fire of London, Museum of London, Museum of London Docklands, Sadler’s Wells, Smithsonian, St Paul’s Cathedral, The City Centre, The Charterhouse, Tower Bridge, V&A, West Ham Park.

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