Bristol - BBC Anchor Partnership One Year On

Chief Operating Officer

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Today I'm in Bristol to mark the anniversary of the BBC's first city partnership - which we've called the Bristol - BBC Anchor partnership, paying tribute to the city's seafaring history.

Our partners are Bristol City Council, the South West Regional Development Agency; South West Screen; the city's two universities - University of Bristol and the University of the West of England and the city's creative industries sector, represented by Watershed and Bristol Media amongst others and a number of community organisations including Knowle West Media Centre.

The partnership is one embodiment of the BBC's commitment to the West of England. Home to factual programming and its jewel, the Natural History Unit as well as local and regional programming, Bristol's principal agencies have a strong commitment to developing a digital creative industry and already has a strong reputation for cutting edge technology and we believe its important to play our part in helping the industry to flourish.

Anchor was set up to bring together the wealth of talent across the West to unlock creative talent and by working together to help stimulate and grow the creative economy.
We want to develop cutting edge technology and innovation for broadcasting over the next 50 years, based on a tradition of excellence over the last fifty years.

We signed the agreement a year ago this month and you can see the full memorandum of understanding on the partnership website.

This partnership is one important element of the BBC's commitment to partnership working. You can find out more about this from our partnerships website.

A lot of work has gone into the last year from a range of people involved in the partnership. When I look at what all those involved have achieved, its clear tremendous progress has been made. There have been working groups on skills; on Innovation and on film and TV production and multiplatform. BBC Films has invested in South West Screen's iFeatures project, alongside others.

Programmes are our lifeblood and in addition to factual, natural history and local radio and regional TV programmes we also have great network radio in bristol.

Last year BBC Bristol radio department celebrated 30 years of Poetry Please at the Old Vic and this year the department are joining with the Festival of Ideas and the Arnolfini to present Matthew Parris and special guests for two editions of Radio 4's biography programme Great Lives. You can apply here for tickets.

And, alongside the proud history of Casualty shooting in Bristol we've continued with location filming for shows such as 5 Daughters, Lark Rise to Candleford and we're currently filming a new drama - Dirk Gently.

We've held workshops and discussions with the creative community in the West and there have been both formal and informal conversations taking place sharing knowledge and skills over the last 12 months.

As part of the partnership we've also looked at how the BBC can increase its interaction with the community. Around 10% of our staff are now involved in giving some of their time to initiatives around media literacy in the community and we're on track to double this by 20% by Christmas. We've provided BBC workshops and professional training opportunities to community groups and we have offered paid placements to young people as part of our Face to Face scheme which has involved 15 young people from community groups across the city .

We want to encourage young people to believe that the BBC is and can be a place for them to work and learn about programme making and to enrich our workforce with a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicity. Against industry trends we have improved the diversity of recruits at BBC Bristol, but we can and must do more.

I hope this work serves to demonstrate the BBC's commitment to Bristol and the West. We've been here for half a century and we are very much here to stay!

Just talking has helped us all achieve a better understanding of our respective organisations and goals. We're all now facing some tough choices, but by working together we can ensure that we maximise our opportunities to grow and sustain the creative industries in the West. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can achieve over the next 12 months.

Caroline Thomson is Chief Operating Officer

Read Head of Outreach, Alec MicGivan's blog about celebrating partnerships in Bristol.

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