Working in the cultural sector in Yorkshire

By Stephen Furlong, Information Officer

There’s never been a better time to be looking for a job or work experience in the creative sector in Yorkshire.

Traditionally, graduates wanting to work in creative industries like film and TV, communications, arts and culture, and software and game design, have looked to London to find work. But the creative sector in Yorkshire is growing fast, which is good news for students in York. It means you can find work experience closer to uni and avoid the high living costs that come with a move to the south east.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening.

Channel 4 moves to Leeds

Channel 4 is moving its national HQ to Leeds this year. They’ll bring 300 jobs to the city in areas like programme commissioning, content production and news, but the biggest boost will be the other creative industries that follow. The next 10 years could see more than 1,200 new jobs in the region as a result of the Channel 4 move, adding £1bn to the region’s economy. It’s particularly good news for independent production companies, who will benefit from Channel 4’s commitment to increase spending on them.

Channel 4 picked Leeds for a number of reasons, two of which were the already growing creative sector and the local authority’s commitment to putting culture at the centre of its economic growth plan.

Students wanting to find forward-thinking businesses in the city will like All in Leeds, a collective of creative agencies which grouped together to help with the Channel 4 bid. And with work experience in mind, Leeds 2023 – a year of cultural events held as an alternative to Leeds’ scuppered European city of culture bid – will likely provide volunteering, work experience and jobs for interested students.

Elsewhere in the region, Screen Yorkshire continues to help grow the film and TV industry in the county. The organisation is piloting a film and TV centre of excellence in Yorkshire, which aims to amplify the impact of investment in training outside of London and south east. The university is also part of Screen Yorkshire’s Connected Campus, which helps to ensure the region can respond to changes in skills demand through things like sharing good practice in training.

Designing games in Yorkshire

About 9% of the UK game design industry is based in Yorkshire. As well as big names like Rockstar and Team17, famous for Grand Theft Auto and Worms respectively, there’s a huge range of agencies in the county covering the breadth of the industry. There’s also a huge five-day games festival every February at the Science and Media Museum in Bradford.

Game Republic is an industry network set up to support Yorkshire game companies which runs events and publishes reports on the industry. The University of York is one of its educational partners. If you’re looking to get ideas of where you could work or where you could get experience, browse their directory of developers and studios. You could also use the Games Map from Nesta for an overview of developers in the region.

If you have a great idea for a game you develop it yourself. Last year, three students who met at York won £25,000 to fund their idea.

York: Unesco city of Media Arts

Since 2014 York has been a Unesco City of Media Arts, acknowledging the thriving role that digital and media arts plays in the economy and culture of the city.

In other words, it means York is a bed of creative talent, with a wide range of creative media arts companies. Make It York (the people responsible for marketing the city to businesses) are building a directory of organisations, which is a great resource for you to identify organisations close to uni who may be able to offer you work experience.

Don’t forget: many organisations in the city offer paid creative internships through our Student Internship Bureau every summer and through term.

Four things to do now

  • Network

Use LinkedIn to start making contacts in the creative industries you’re interested in. Use the directories on websites like All In Leeds, Make It York and Game Republic to find agencies you might otherwise have missed. If you think you can put together a good case for doing work experience with one of these agencies, then reach out to them with a copy of your CV and an explanation of why they would benefit from giving you an opportunity.

You can also meet people at events held on campus. Look out for our ‘Careers in…’ panel events.

  • Listen and subscribe to our podcast

Our podcast What do you actually do?! is a great way to get tips and advice from people working in all kinds of industries. We’ve talked to former film location scout Richard Knight, theatre director John Tomlinson and historical advisor for films Hannah Greig. Coming soon we’ll have an interview with an educational games designer – don’t miss out and subscribe.

Employers want graduates who have business awareness. If you’re interested in working in the creative sector in the north, follow the news on this website to impress potential employers when you get to interviews.

York Profiles and Mentors is a great resource for finding out where York grads are working. Use it to get an idea of the breadth of creative companies employing York alumni.