Baltic Creative CIC are pleased to announce our support for the local social project, Make Bank. We have donated 50 Creative Kits which will go to pupils across the country who are struggling to access resources.

Make Bank is a social enterprise that aims to tackle creative poverty and a lack of representation in the creative industries. They donate art and design kits to pupils across the country who might be facing barriers to learning and provide online resources to allow young people to explore creative careers.

We spoke to founder, Kirsty Thomas, about the project and the challenges facing young people. If you’re a creative professional, read on to find out how you can support by sharing your story.

Make Bank provides art and design kits to pupils struggling to access resources.
What inspired you to start this project?

Over the past 25 years I’ve worked in lots of aspects of the creative industries. I’ve worked in the fashion industry, in graphic design and in jewellery and craft but I’ve also been an art teacher in high schools so I’ve seen it from all angles. I believe that, as an industry, we have a duty to ensure that we are accessible to everyone. Pupils who face disadvantage often drop out of creative subjects at school because they can’t afford the materials they need or don’t see themselves represented in creative careers. We wanted to reduce these barriers so set up Make Bank to try and tackle some of the problems.

Do you think the pandemic has made this situation worse for pupils?

Definitely! We saw a huge rise in applications for our kits during the pandemic. Home schooling widened the poverty gap for many pupils and whilst teachers were doing everything they could to ensure pupils had what they needed, the pandemic really shone a spotlight on the need for additional support for so many young people.

Your Creative Stories project speaks to professionals in the industry. Why do you think it’s important for young people to hear from working artists and creatives?

Creative Stories is about sharing access to diverse jobs, people and paths into our industry. We want young people to see themselves represented in the industry but we also want to share the huge range of jobs that are out there and the multitude of routes you can take to get here… pupils are sadly still put off creative education at school because they are told its not a real subject or they won’t be able to get a proper job. There’s a lot of ignorance around creativity as a career so sharing stories helps people see what’s out there and how to get it!

What would your advice be to a young person interested in a creative career?
Kirsty Thomas: Founder of Make Bank and design studio, Tom Pigeon

Don’t be put off by what the “grown ups” tell you. Be curious, do your research, speak to people, ask questions. If there is something creative you’d like to do as a career there is definitely a way in and lots of people here to help you work out how to do it.

What inspires you to get creative?

Lots of things! I run a design studio called Tom Pigeon and find a lot of inspiration in my local landscape. I used to live in a fishing village in Scotland and drew inspiration from the beaches and seascapes. Now that I’m back in Liverpool I’m much more influenced by architecture and the colours and lines of the river. I also love exploring new materials and processes and collaborating with others. No day is the same and that’s what I love most about being creative.

That’s great! Finally, how can people support Make Bank?

There are lots of ways to support us! We are always looking for people to share their creative journey stories and are keen to chat with creatives who might have ideas for collaborations. Or you can donate… on a monthly, yearly or one-off basis or perhaps create a project or product that will help to support our work. If you have an idea, give us a shout!

Kirsty Thomas is a designer and founder of Make Bank. Her design studio, Tom Pigeon, was set up in 2014. She has since collaborated with galleries and design companies around the world including The Barbican, V&A and Team GB.

Follow Make Bank \ Facebook: @themakebank \ Instagram: @the_makebank