Winner of £50,000 Cultural Innovation Fusion Prize Announced
By Amy Zamarripa Solis
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.