Creativity in the Community speech
Speech given for
the launch of Project Merseyside at the Liverpool Institute of Performing
In my first
speech at the BBC, when I was still Director-General Designate, I spoke
about education and the importance I wanted it to take in my time running
of the challenge for Britain to open up the provision of learning and
place it at the centre of people's lives and how I believed the BBC
could play a significant part in that process.
stressed how we were keen to bring to learning people who hadn't so
far gained a great deal in their lives from the education system.
three years on, the BBC has made some progress in the area of education
but not as much as we would have liked. Today is another important step
in furthering that overall aim.
past three years our vision of digital education - that broadband interactive
technology can support teaching and help guide everyone from the school
pupil to a retiree through a lifetime of learning - has become even
course three years ago some people even doubted that we would reach
the 21st century.
to Nostradamus's predictions of Armageddon and the Y2K bug it was confidently
predicted that none of our public services, phones, electricity, banks
or airlines would work and we would be up to our eyes in sewage.
course there was also the Millennium Dome.
of the forecasts of doom actually happened - except for the Millennium
Dome that is - but the world has certainly changed since I joined the
revolution in broadcasting is rapidly gathering pace and our industry
is undergoing fundamental structural change. Today just over 50% of
homes have multichannel television and nearly all of it is digital.
my mind the really significant aspect of the digital revolution is not
the proliferation of television or radio channels. It's interactivity.
And interactivity which instantly transforms communication from one-to-many,
the growth of digital broadcasting has been the phenomenon of the internet
which reaches nearly 17 million people in the UK. That's around 50%
of all homes.
in some parts of the internet economic realities have come home to roost.
of the rapid growth of interactive television driven through a broadband
superhighway that dominated the media just a couple of years ago proved,
perhaps inevitably, to be over-hyped - not unlike the venture capitalists
and the stock market that funded these ill fated ventures.
as the market rose then fell, we just got on with it.
offers over 100 interactive services which have been used by over eight
million people in the last year. It's Europe's number one content site
on the web and it's also editorially free from the influence of advertisers,
something our users say is important to them.
broadband content that is delivered by high speed fibre-optic two way
communications directly into the home is still very expensive and in
is going to happen and the BBC has a crucial role to play in that process.
that it's now pretty self-evident that the market would not and could
not have delivered BBCi. The same applies to broadband.
than a publicly funded BBC would be prepared to put the investment into
testing broadband which is what the BBC is currently doing in Hull?
- more of which in a moment.
these are fundamental responsibilities of a modern public service broadcaster.
examples of the special things that the BBC delivers to audiences. Things
the market never would.
Government agrees - that's why a central condition of the last increase
in the BBC's Licence Fee was that extra investment should be made in
the development of educational digital and interactive services.
technological or cultural innovation is not always greeted with enthusiasm.
liked the response of C.P. Scott, the legendary editor of the Manchester
Guardian, to the new fangled invention of television:
he is said to have remarked," The word is half Greek and half Latin.
No good can come from it."
view paled beside the executive at Decca Records who turned down your
very own Beatles with the comment, "There is no future for bands
BBC can take the risk, both financial and creative, of developing the
sort of inventive, distinctive and interactive content you can see here
today - and developing that for the benefit of everyone in the community.
goal is to combine digital technology with the needs of our local communities
and BBC Open Centres are the focal point for our vision.
I was please to join Ricky Tomlinson in opening our fourth Open Centre
here in Liverpool.
proving to be really exciting with the Open Centres is the emergence
of a new kind of interactive learning partnership with local communities.
we have opened them, and besides Merseyside this includes Sheffield,
Blackburn and Stoke, the story is a similar one of success.
our first to open, had 2,000 registered learners in its first year.
digital broadband technology, we are determined to take this further.
ago Radio Humberside was just that - a local radio station - similar
to dozens around the country.
now testing our most advanced interactive applications over high-speed
broadband connections in Hull: including video and always-on internet
access with video-streaming and e-mail. Hull has become Britain's first
for learning using broadband is enormous.
free broadband links a dozen local schools have access to the BBC Hull
interactive services, providing them with a direct route to a wide range
of BBC education materials.
Project Merseyside, we aim to place the BBC and its partners at the
heart of the local learning agenda.
do so by exploring ways in which we can encourage creative and collaborative
skills amongst children, young people, adults and their wider communities.
their interest through the BBC's strengths in media, local history,
music and sport, we hope to equip these groups with production skills
in TV, radio and online, and showcase the results on our local services.
these activities have been designed to improve key skills for employability
- including communications and presentation skills; team-working; and
providing routes back into formal learning.
Merseyside is a pan-BBC initiative, with input from our Nations and
Regions teams, advice from Human Resources and, later in the project,
using our broadcast outlets.
be working with a range of local partners including Liverpool Community
College, the emerging media centre Toxteth TV, and the six local education
I believe, public services combining to be effective.
Radio Merseyside is the crucial local hub for the project with our Open
Centre and learning activities.
is the most popular local station in England with nearly half a million
people tuning in each week. It is a station that is firmly part of the
community it broadcasts to.
will Project Merseyside offer?
we will offer a range of learning opportunities to give a flavour of
TV and radio production, journalism, digital technologies, DJ'ing and
will be informal, aimed at 16 to 24 year olds not in employment or formal
education, and will offer the possibility of following-up with further
programmes of study.
we will also be rolling out the BBC's own respected training and online
be supported by BBC people from Merseyside and Manchester and at a national
level, who will run workshops and have-a-go sessions, demystifying the
BBC and offering mentoring and attachments.
training and facilitation will be mainly delivered by one of our partners,
the Ariel Trust, with BBC staff supporting the skillXchange programme.
interactive skills are being fostered via WebActive, providing resources,
tools, templates and a network of support partners to enable individuals
and community organisations to become active producers of web content.
the BBC will be running a radio project.
on-site production in schools, youth centres and other community locations,
the aim will be to motivate the old and young alike; developing skills
and showcasing local talent - part of the BBC's role to champion British
Project Merseyside - a huge opportunity for people to realise their
talents and I hope just about everyone will be able to find something
which really grabs them and encourages them to get involved.
also to tell you - and show you - how the BBC aims to develop our learning
offering for everyone throughout the country.
of you will be aware, part of our broader, education strategy is our
proposal for a Digital Curriculum.
ago, the BBC set out its vision for a Digital Curriculum that can ultimately
be delivered by broadband to every child in the UK both to schools and
in the home.
are those who don't believe the BBC should have any part to play in
such a service, who think that it should all be left to the market to
supply, and in this area the BBC should just stick to doing what it
does so well - making programmes for schools.
that's not how we see it. E-learning has tremendous potential and we
know we can make a very positive contribution to this ambitious project
which we believe will change the face of learning inside and outside
there are many profit and loss companies who are interested in providing
lucrative on-line services in the most popular subjects.
in the market will support the less popular subjects and ensure that
the curricula of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also receive services
which meet their needs? I don't think the market will.
an enormous reservoir of experience and expertise; we want to work with
others in education and the industry; and we believe teachers and parents
would welcome us being there.
service broadcasting is not about filling small niches that profit-driven
publishers or broadcasters decide are not lucrative enough to bother
the vision of a Digital Curriculum goes far beyond the bare bones of
what would be necessary; far beyond the expectations of the marketplace.
It needs to be there for everyone. Our proposals are now with the DCMS
is part of our new approach to learning using television and radio in
unique ways to engage people's interest, and then encourage them to
go further - something perhaps even C.P. Scott might have approved of.
month we will launch the Sport Academy website aimed at increasing participation
in sport among 10 to 16 year olds; and to support parents, teachers
and volunteers in achieving this aim.
is great. Not just in encouraging healthier lifestyles, but as a vehicle
that leads to wider learning and training.
As a part
of that project we have also launched Go for Wimbledon - with the aim
of encouraging more children and young people to play tennis - by creating
a series of mini Wimbledon events across the country leading to a day
at the Championship itself.
City Tennis Club was one of the first to be selected for the pilot scheme
and, who knows, maybe there is a new champion ready to be found here
initiative that we have just launched and aimed very much at a young
generation is OneMusic from Radio 1.
Music is a one-stop shop for information, inspiration and expert
advice on all aspects of the music business. It explains how the industry
works and encourages people to get on and get heard.
a meeting place for musicians and music fans of every kind to get together
to talk about their projects and the music they love.
to encourage people to keep progressing their talents and their passion
for new music. It's our investment now in the best new music of the
many young people across the country who are writing and playing new
music, and we are helping to give them a voice and hopefully an opportunity
the BBC is also embarking on a major new arts initiative - Blast
- in partnership with youth and arts organisations around the country.
targeting teenagers, Blast hopefully will help them maximise their creative
potential in the areas of music, film-making, dance and art.
they are encouraged to stage their own performance or local event to
display their talents.
role in this is to put young people in touch with a network of organisations,
local facilities, contacts and advisers via a dedicated web site and
road-shows taking place around the country throughout the summer.
get expert advice, support and practical information about making the
most of their passion for music, art, dance and film.
illustrates a BBC vision of learning which goes far beyond a formalised
notion of a classroom environment.
the biggest mission for a public service broadcaster in the early 21st
century is to use learning to help extend human experience.
realising, above all, that learning should be something we regard with
pleasure, with anticipation and as something to enjoy.