Since 2012, Future Foundry has offered over 600 less advantaged young people training in entrepreneurship, the creative industries and the circular economy. Projects include the popular Student Makers Markets, which offer free stalls and ‘street based’ business training for young people; and Closing the Loop which introduced young creative people to the circular economy and entrepreneurship and identified that waste could supply a valuable low-cost resource for less advantaged young entrepreneurs. Their Dover Creative Start-Up Space offers access to digital and creative fabrication technology to use waste to develop innovative products, services and artworks and provides a test bed to look for solutions to the lack of start-up finance for disadvantaged young people.
Closing the Loop, their newest programme was designed to enable the army of young market traders to develop sustainable and waste free businesses. Closing the Loop was created through a highly innovative partnership developed by Kent County Council’s Creative and Cultural Economy team who provided crucial support and development funding and brokered a partnership with KCC Highways Transportation & Waste colleagues and industry partners Countrystyle Recycling Ltd.
The diversity of investors and partners in the programme led to a range of delivery outcomes including: raising awareness of waste issues; reducing waste and encouraging recycling; tackling youth unemployment through entrepreneurship; increasing creative and cultural activity in less advantaged areas; and demonstrating the ability of the creative industries to deliver outcomes for other sectors. Connecting to a community of innovators is a powerful collaboration which brings new insights and ideas with potential to deliver innovative solutions to real issues facing the waste industry. The narrative and visual content generated by creatives is a significant resource for engaging communities and raising awareness.
The programme was delivered largely with non-arts investment including funding from the construction industry in the form of the Scape Reinvestment Community Fund and funding from each council where the programme was delivered, plus in-kind support from Countrystyle Recycling Ltd. In addition, investment from Arts Council England was essential in enabling the company to equip the Creative Start Up Space and mobile units used to deliver the programme, it also enabled the company to ‘level up’ with staff and skills development to manage the increased growth.
The power of a collaborative project which tackles non arts issues is that artists and designers bring a particularly broad palette of thinking and exploration which can ignite excitement and engagement in the industry partners as well as the public. Collaborations can provide surprising, highly creative solutions but not necessarily in the linear way that any of those involved can predict.
Lorna Doyle works with local surf schools and yacht clubs to recycle wetsuits and uses the neoprene to make bags using traditional printing techniques. She was part of the Closing the loop project. She was selected by New Designers to exhibit at the Business Design Centre and invited by Kate Rew, journalist and founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society to design products for the society. There are more than 500,000 surfers in the United Kingdom who, on average, will replace their wetsuits once every two years. This produces three hundred and eighty tonnes of non-biodegradable chemical-based waste annually, the equivalent of more than thirty London double decker buses being discarded every year.