Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

Working in and on the Business of Cultural Education


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The final 55th day of the Big Shut Up? Not bloody likely.

Following the recent outcome of our Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding bid, we are disappointed to announce that our application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

The Mighty Creatives team is incredibly proud of the work we have achieved over the past 10 years as the ACE Bridge organisation for the East Midlands. Since 2018 (to July 2022), this has included:

  • Generating £1.4 million in match funding for Partnership Investment – including an additional £4.5 million to develop programme beyond ACE funding such as Splash!, Kickstart, and Creative Mentoring.
  • Supporting the development of 9 Local Cultural Education Partnerships.
  • Delivering 19,357 Arts Awards.
  • Supporting 16.5% (363) school settings to embark on their Artsmark journey in 2022 and engaging 52% of schools (1172) in wider activity across all programmes.
  • Engaging 48 NPOs, 708 ‘other’ arts and cultural organisations, 48 Heritage sites and Libraries, and 1172 schools across Primary, Secondary, Special Schools and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).
  • Delivering over 850 training, events and workshops to support our partners, and empowering 530 young people to move from Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) to in Education, Employment or Training (EET).
  • Engaging 2,402 children and young people in direct delivery, reaching a further 218,000 through our programme delivery and partnerships.

The Mighty Creatives would like to thank Arts Council England for their continued support over the past 10 years. We express our ongoing thanks and respect to our dedicated, knowledgeable, and ‘mighty’ staff team who work tirelessly and with devotion to make our vision a reality. 

Our deepest and wholehearted gratitude is sent to all the inspiring organisations, schools, funders, artists, consultants, freelancers, and fundraisers, across the region and beyond, who have worked with us to help transform the lives of so many children and young people. 

Of course, we would like to especially thank the region’s young people who remind us every day why our work matters.

The Mighty Creatives remains steadfast in our commitment to our vision and mission, and to supporting young people in need across the East Midlands region. Our focus for the future centres on continuing to deliver our work as a Bridge organisation until 31st March 2023, and our commitments to other funders, while making plans for the transition period that will follow. Since our Creative Mentoring  programme has confirmed funding from Children in Need, this service will continue to be provided. We are exploring new funding options to ensure the sustainability of this and all our other programmes in the long term.

Our dedicated Senior Leadership Team and Board of Trustees are currently exploring alternative options and funding opportunities to ensure the long-term sustainability of the charity – so that we can continue to make a difference to the lives of children and young people at the heart of our organisation.

If you would like to speak to us about how your organisation could work with us in the future, please email our CEO, Nick Owen, at nick@themightycreatives.com

(Press release from The Mighty Creatives, Friday 4 November)


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Day 54 of the 26 Day Big  …. Up: Reimaginings

After a long period of silence, Arts Council England are announcing the results of their long-awaited investment decisions on arts funding tomorrow!

The Mighty Creatives are waiting in trepidation along with everyone else in the sector. So, in the spirit of hoping for the best but planning for the worst, our period of not-quite-silence on the reflections of our past and re-imaginings of our futures continues unabated.

If this period of not-quite-silence is getting on your nerves, you could do a lot worse than to support our the Mighty (UN)Mute  campaign here. One thing I promise: if you can help us reach our target, I’ll never ask you ever again!  You will have well and truly shut me up 🙂

Today’s reflection:  come expect a miracle

Ambling through the back streets of a market in Port of Spain, Trinidad, you come across a church – modestly rebranding itself as the Jesus Miracle Centre – with the claim that should you wish to visit it, you can ‘come expect a miracle’ no less.

Expecting a miracle is perhaps something we’ve gotten out of the habit in recent years, depending as we do on rational, positivistic ways of thinking that persuade us that without ‘x’ input, then ‘y’ output is impossible: that the imagination and dream land are concepts best left in the hinterlands of the Australian outback and that everything in this world is determinable and forecastable, if only we had enough clean data available at our disposal.

We don’t talk often enough about miracles and we’re certainly not encouraged to expect them – and perhaps we should. 

Expecting a daily miracle might just help us deal with the imminent threat of economic meltdown, global warming up and England being beaten by Germany on penalties in the Qatar 2022 World Cup.


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Day  53 of …  26 Day Big  …. Up: Reimaginings

After a long period of silence, Arts Council England are announcing the results of their long-awaited investment decisions on arts funding on Friday 4 November.  Just 3 days to go before the Big Reveal!

The Mighty Creatives are waiting in trepidation along with everyone else in the sector. So, in the spirit of hoping for the best but planning for the worst, our period of not-quite-silence on the reflections of our past and re-imaginings of our futures continues unabated.

If this period of not-quite-silence is getting on your nerves, you could do a lot worse than to support our the Mighty (UN)Mute  campaign here. One thing I promise: if you can help us reach our target, I’ll never ask you ever again!  You will have well and truly shut me up 🙂

Today’s reflection:  new horizons, home and thanks to the 2.6 Cycling Challenge

The Covid-19 crisis has shone a beacon on people’s innate creativity throughout the crisis and one of the post Covid-19 challenges for many of us working in the cultural sector will be how to harness this community buzz and demonstrate how creativity has been a vital part of people’s resilience to the challenges they’ve faced.

Public Art though is still a bit of a conundrum for me.  Every now and then on my travels I encountered odd pieces of public art whose purpose was baffling and whose aesthetics were indisputably challenging. Another cliché but still as true: roadside flora doesn’t need a purpose but just look splendid.  Perhaps we should rethink art in a similar way: there’s no need for art to have an instrumental purpose, but just to be enjoyed, celebrated or castigated for what it is.

Day 26 of the Cycling Challenge finally arrived and Janice, Sally, Hania, Tom and Stash made my return home really joyful.  

Their celebrations made that final 100m stretch a real pleasure for the first time in 26 days and prevented me from hopping off the bike and ambling home up the hill unnoticed. When Day 26 was done and dusted a story of several numbers emerged:

Over 405km cycled…

Over 2170m climbed…

Over 46 hrs en route…

Over 75 ‘A-Ha’ moments of discovery…

I’m especially thankful to all my donors who helped make this campaign happen: The 2 Andys, Carl, Chris, the 3 Davids, Eleni, Emrys, Felicity, Janice, Jo, John, Jon, Jordan, Kevin, Kim, Laura, Lew, Marie, The 2 Martins, Nadine, Nick, Nigel, Pam, Paul, Raj, Rajesh, Rav, Roxie, Ryan, Sally, Tom and Vivek: thank you all so much.  And to all you anonymous donors: I couldn’t have done it without you too!

Thank you, Jon, for your advice on how to carry a bike. This was much needed at the 49 Steps of Sycamore Park in St Ann’s which clearly hadn’t had any human visitation since the Ice Age: and thanks to How We Roll for technical expertise on the Tiger Hazard-mobile.

My cycle challenge was part of the wider Mighty Creatives team challenge in which staff, trustees, friends and family all chipping into the team effort. Everything from running, cycling, walking the dog, working out, exercising, crocheting, learning German and lip-synching music theatre on TikTok: our team’s ingenuity knew no bounds!  All in all, we raised over £5,200 for children and young people in care (double our original target!)

If you’d like to know more how the funding has made a difference to their lives, please feel free to get in touch.

And if you’d like to lend a hand… or a couple of feet… just check out what we went on to do next…


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Day  52 .. …  26 Day Big  …. Up: Reimaginings

After a long period of silence, Arts Council England are announcing the results of their long-awaited investment decisions on arts funding on Friday 4 November.  Just 4 days to go before the Big Reveal!

The Mighty Creatives are waiting in trepidation along with everyone else in the sector. So, in the spirit of hoping for the best but planning for the worst, our period of not-quite-silence on the reflections of our past and re-imaginings of our futures continues unabated.

If this period of not-quite-silence is getting on your nerves, you could do a lot worse than to support our the Mighty (UN)Mute  campaign here. One thing I promise: if you can help us reach our target, I’ll never ask you ever again!  You will have well and truly shut me up 🙂

Today’s reflection:  when in doubt, change the rules.

Like so much in life, I started with good intentions.

I’d planned (if that’s the right word) to throw a basketball hoop from a line, the regulation 15’ away from the hoop, 26 times and to time how long this took me.  And do this for 26 days with the intention to shorten that time on a daily basis. 

The first challenge was to find a basketball hoop and fortunately for me, our new neighbours had one stuck on the side of the kitchen wall, facing their driveway the width of which is about 18’.  They willingly agreed for me to use the hoop – probably because they’re away for much of the day and were probably privately relieved that they weren’t about to witness the bounce bounce pause thwack bounce bounce missed again dammit monologue that was to follow.

DayAttemptsNear MissesBasketsEffort (Baskets/ Attempt)Baskets/ Minute (BPM)FeelGood FactorTotal timeTotal ShotsTotal BasketsSuccess rate
1N/A08N/A0.308N/A268
21940157.73%0.577N/A5219423
31898721.06%0.07746.03%78383256.5%
419010773.68%0.26956.32%104573325.6%
5192105115.73%0.42354.69%130765435.6%
616710863.59%0.23164.67%156932495.3%
7174114148.05%0.53865.52%1821,106635.7%
9180108168.89%0.61560.00%2341,286634.9%
101661181810.84%0.69271.08%2601,452795.4%
111811212011.05%0.76966.85%2861,633975.9%
121761152413.64%0.92365.34%3121,8091176.5%
131791112413.41%0.92362.01%3381,9881417.1%
141761251910.80%0.73171.02%3642,1641607.4%
151671013219.16%1.23160.48%3902,3311928.2%
16147903523.81%1.34661.22%4162,4782279.2%
171541023724.03%1.42366.23%4422,63226410.0%
18170944828.24%1.84655.29%4682,80231211.1%
19167845432.34%2.07750.30%4942,96936612.3%
20157747044.59%2.69247.13%5203,12643613.9%
21163796640.49%2.53848.47%5463,28950215.3%
22178857441.57%2.84647.75%5723,46757616.6%

So, the first challenge was rapidly met and soon after the challenge of having independent verification was addressed too.  Our neighbour, Yvonne, volunteered to adjudicate the challenge and I gratefully accepted her offer. 

So, Day One dawned and all seemed straight forward enough.  I measure out a throw line 15’ from the hoop (informally known as the ‘Charity Stripe’ I’m reliably informed) with a measuring stick. Yvonne switches on her stopwatch. 

I remember the advice from Tahir about how to throw a basketball: BEEF, an acronym for “Balance” (yep, got that); Eyes on the target” (doddle); “Elbows at right angles”  (er… what?” “Follow Through” (of course, what else, it’s just like tennis. What could possibly go wrong?)

What could go wrong was of course pretty much everything.  Balance isn’t helped by running after a stray ball and then running back to the charity stripe to try again without stopping. The eye on the target is all very well if you completely understand which target it is you’re meant to have your eyes on.  The board?  The back of the hoop? The front of the hoop? The little logo half way up the board? Placing your elbows at right angles is all very well if you don’t expect to hold the ball in a particularly meaningful way. Follow through leads to a constant arc of optimism turning to disappointment as the ball repeats its trajectory of bounce bounce pause thwack bounce bounce missed again dammit.

After 10 minutes Yvonne is clearly worried about whether or not she has an evening to look forward to.  I have some managed to throw 4 balls into the hoop over this time and managed at least ten times more ‘ah, nearly’ moments. It looks like we might both have to stay about another hour or two if I’m to achieve the deceptively bland target of 26 hoops before retiring gracefully with a gin and tonic to assess how long it took me to do it.

After 20 minutes the success rate isn’t much better.  A further 4 hoops and a slightly lower proportion of “ah, nearly” moments.  A much higher ratio of “WTF is going on?” moments.

It’s at this point that I decide to follow all the best professional sporting advice and to decide to change the rules of the game.  Instead of timing how long it will take to throw 26 balls into the hoop, I’ll see how many I can throw in 26 minutes.  That way, we can see an end in sight and can thankfully retire to the comfort of a gin and tonic knowing that we shall live to confront another day of BEEF. The following six minutes yielded no more moments of success other than a relief that we could both get back to having a life that evening.

So, the final score on day one is 8 hoops over 26 minutes.  It does at least count as a baseline and if and when I get to throwing 26 hoops within the new target of 26 minutes, I will take heart that there has at least been some element of progression: especially if I can achieve it over the next 26 days.

Sport can quickly make a fool of you in a very short space of time and I have a feeling that this won’t the last time I remember that particularly embarrassing lesson.

(You can find out more about the 2.6 Challenge for 2021 here.)