"Ever since launching Powerhouse in 1999, Ive always realised how incredibly key it is, that as a business, we help young people to succeed in our sector."
Leeds content studio, Powerhouse, is helping to nurture and develop Yorkshire’s next generation of talent, by providing a platform for young people to learn creative skills.
The photography and video agency – which employs 22 people in Leeds – believes that it’s vital for Yorkshire’s creative industries to do so, in line with Channel 4’s move to the region.
In 2017, Powerhouse formed an ‘Academy’, for fresh talent, with little commercial exposure to gain hands-on experience. Since then, three young people have ‘graduated’ from the training school – going on to be employed by the studio, full time. Over 50 university students have also assisted on Powerhouse’s live client shoots, to grow their knowledge and skill-set.
The organisation’s Photography Director, Richard White, is a regular face at Leeds Art University, where he holds workshops and speed-mentoring sessions about how to ‘make it’ in the industry.
Talking about the importance of investing in new talent, he said: “Ever since launching Powerhouse in 1999, I’ve always realised how incredibly key it is, that as a business, we help young people to succeed in our sector. A lot of traditional skills are being replaced by AI, but creativity is something that simply can’t be superseded.
“Through working with the university, I have met some dynamic individuals, who have buckets of talent; and simply need some support – so that’s what the Academy does. It’s also hugely beneficial for our business, as it means that we can attract and train brilliant people.”
But Richard – and the rest of the Powerhouse team – believe that more should be done by businesses to nurture the region’s talent, ahead of Channel 4’s move to Leeds.
“The fact that Channel 4 has chosen Leeds as its new home, is outstanding. We have one of the UK’s youngest labour markets – so we need to keep that talent within our region, while attracting young people from other areas of the UK. C4’s relocation will provide huge benefits, which will be felt by future generations for years to come.
“As employers, we all need to step up and fly the flag for Leeds, by creating opportunities across the creative sector. Even small agencies, who don’t have the resource to take on a young student, can help by providing mentoring and linking with local education providers. Now is the perfect time for us to pull in the same direction – we look forward to the industry cohesion that Channel 4 is surely set to bring.”
Sharon Heleine, careers manager at Leeds Art University agrees. She said: "Powerhouse has run workshops for freelancers, mentored alumni, offered work experience and one-to-one advice sessions. Students find that speaking personally to Rich is extremely helpful, and that his advice encouraged them to pursue creative careers. We need more creative entrepreneurs – not just in photography and video, but in all areas of the creative sector – to become involved; and we are calling for them to do so!”