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The Make Bank Story

We are at the very beginning of a journey. We want to make our industry equal, diverse and representative of the society we live in. We want to encourage the creative industry to stand up and create change, to support young talent and to give every young person the opportunity to follow their creative dream.

I am a former art and design teacher and the founder and director of design studio, Tom Pigeon. I am lucky and privileged to run my own company and to work with amazing people, clients and spaces around the world. I love being creative, I am grateful for how it makes me feel and I love my job but I am also aware that I design for a small section of society and those people are pretty affluent. This doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

At the end of 2018 I started to research ways to build more “social good” into our business and whilst looking for organisations to work with came across some facts and figures that I couldn’t get out of my head. These challenging statistics are the foundation of The Make Bank.

Right now in the UK an average of 33% of children are living below the poverty line. In one parliamentary constituency that figure reaches a horrifying 62.11%. We hear a lot, and rightly so, about food banks and hygiene poverty but kids are also living without adequate clothing, heating and housing and going to school without the tools they need to succeed. Teachers are working incredibly hard to poverty-proof their schools but, as school budgets become stretched, teachers are increasingly putting their hands in their own pockets to provide for the kids they teach.

In recent years there has been a significant increase in secondary pupils dropping out of creative subjects. This happens for lots of reasons but often because they don’t have, and can’t afford, the tools they require to complete the course, or don’t recognise the wealth of opportunity that exists within the creative industries. Pupils are regularly advised that art and design is not a viable career path and that they should look towards getting a “proper” job.

I have a proper job! Proper jobs exist in the creative industries (thousands of them!) and we are one of the fastest growing industries in the UK economy. If our industry keeps growing at its current pace there could be 900,000 new creative jobs available by 2030... and we will need exciting, diverse, enthusiastic new talent to fill them.

So I set up The Make Bank to try and tackle some of these issues. We want kids to choose art and design in spite of financial difficulties, we want them to recognise the scope of opportunity that exists in the creative industries, and we want them to recognise that you don’t always have to take a traditional path to join us. We also want to rally our fellow creatives to stand up and help, to foster a future generation of creatives who will enable our industry to thrive.

Kirsty Thomas, founder.