Rising Arts Agency

Now firmly established as Bristol’s ‘talent incubator’, Rising Arts Agency was born out of a call for help from young people wanting a future in creative industries.

They needed advice and practical opportunities. And that’s what they got.

With an open and accessible online presence, Rising now provides 16 to 25-year olds with professional mentoring, platforms to showcase work, commissioning opportunities and creative leadership training. All established by and for young creatives – often supporting routes into the creative sector.

Over the next three years, Rising is looking to expand the impact of its work in the local area, tailoring programmes for, and created with, a diverse community of young artists.

They will empower young people to influence the city’s arts sector, establish clear pathways into work and engage with those who currently struggle to access the city’s rich cultural offer.

Founder and Director of Rising, Kamina Walton, says this kind of work is vital if both the young people and creative industries are to thrive in the future:

In a time where young people are feeling increasingly disempowered and aspirations are restricted, Rising interrogates notions and approaches to creativity, leadership and governance – creating a shift towards young people finding agency and the resources within themselves to not only succeed, but inspire innovation, creativity and leadership in others.”

©Shamphat Photography

They won’t be doing this alone as they plan to work in partnership with some of Bristol’s most innovative cultural organisations.

But, with no core funding, Rising has found growing the team and covering wages a challenge. The organisation currently receives funding only from Bristol City Council and Research and Development funds from the Arts Council.

However, Rising has now secured a grant of £39,600 from the South West Bridge Challenge Fund which it is hoped will help secure additional income of £44,000 from consultancy, commissioning and sales.

Kamina says the money means they can grow and generate much-needed new income: “Our primary goal is to increase the financial and organisational resilience of Rising through an expanded core team and subsequent increased capacity to handle larger scale, greater impact projects.

“With the first instalment of the Challenge Fund money we have recruited a part-time Development Manager. She has started conversations with potential new partners, both in the creative and private sectors, and helped us shape marketable ‘products’ and services to generate new sources of income.

The Real Ideas Challenge Fund is investing in Rising to fulfil its full potential and create greater impact for under-represented young people in the creative sector, in addition to helping other organisations across the sector and beyond to learn from their  experience and methods of developing sustainable business models.

“Looking ahead, the Fund will bring in additional team members ensuring even greater organisational health and resilience.”

©Shamphat Photography

Two proven revenue-generating consultancy programmes OnBoard and OpenUP are part of the expansion programme:

OnBoard gives organisations support to recruit and appoint young people to board positions or trusteeships, making them better equipped to meet young people’s needs, involving young people in decision making and bringing a sense of legitimacy to an organisation – both for young people and the wider population.

It’s already generating income and interest. Six cultural organisations have joined up: Theatre BristolWe The CuriousDiverse CityWise ChildrenKnowle West Media Centre, and Encounters, with four more on the waiting list. Rising are keen to see if this would translate to the private sector and the potential for franchising across the UK.

OpenUP, part of the #whoseculture data project, is a valuable consultation tool connecting young people of colour to cultural institutions. This gives them the chance to give feedback on how existing spaces are used, how current or future programming can be of interest or could provide a platform for diverse audiences and opportunities could open or be created for young people of colour on the future.

Again, it’s felt this programme has a value beyond the city’s cultural organisations and could be expanded to be used by both public and private organisations across the region and beyond.

It’s hoped the impact from the Challenge Fund will help those under-represented in the arts and provide opportunities for areas of deprivation; support and develop artists, and raise the profile and aspirations of young people – connecting them to the city’s cultural organisations who in turn will learn how to work more effectively with them.

Kamina says they now have the resource to match their dream: “If we can realise our vision for the Challenge Fund investment, key new posts will triple the core team’s capacity allowing us to focus on key areas of development for income, profile and reach.

“Recruiting experts in the areas of Development, Producing, Social Media and Strategic Development will allow the rest of the team to specialise in their own areas of expertise, strengthens Rising as a business and enables further growth.”

©Shamphat Photography

Kamina adds the support from Real Ideas Organisation has been great: “Working with RIO is a genuine pleasure! We have brilliant day to day support from our Real Ideas Consultant, Deshni Pyndiah, who totally understands our vision. 

“In addition to this we have had the opportunity to work with  Matt Little, Head of Impact and Reasearch, who is helping us understand the value of our unique agency model and how we can articulate this with a range of audiences and clients to help generate new income and ensure that Rising remains a sustainable offer for Bristol and beyond.”

120 young people will be involved as Rising expands, as team members, featured and freelance artists, board and youth board members, consultants and advocates and champions of Rising’s work.

The cultural future of young people in Bristol is looking bright thanks to this forward-thinking agency.