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Creative Café event at the University of Surrey

Creative Café events provide a unique model for building collaboration between creative and cultural industries and young people within school, college and university learning environments. In these informal, high energy, student-led networking events, young people, teachers and course leaders, and a range of people working across the creative and cultural industries meet, exchange ideas, aspirations and knowledge, and incubate new ideas for collaboration and creative learning partnerships.

Culture Shift held a Creative Café event at the University of Surrey on 4th July 2012. The event, facilitated by Culture Shift Associate Mark Robertson, had been planned in collaboration with Surrey Arts, Guildford 11-19 Partnership, Guildford Borough Council and the University of Surrey. A focus group of students and teachers from partner schools helped plan the event, taking into account students’ interests and ambitions.

Who was involved

  • Organisational partners: Surrey Arts, Guildford 11-19 Partnership, Guildford Borough Council and the University of Surrey
  • Teachers and students from George Abbot School, Guildford County School, Howard of Effingham School, and St Peter’s Catholic School
  • Tim Stephen, Music lecturer at Surrey University
  • Michael Moor, Head of Musical Theatre, Guildford School of Acting
  • Michael Wicherek, Director of Box Clever Theatre Company
  • Paul Kercal, ipad artist
  • Geoff Lawson, Powerhouse Theatre Company
  • Sheree Vickers, SAVVY Theatre Company
  • Jeremy Gassman, photographer
  • Dominique Czopor and Lydia Stockbridge, The Boileroom, Guildford’s alternative music venue


  • To give young people an insight into the creative and cultural industries, and how creative industry professionals develop and market themselves and their ideas
  • To give young people a better understanding and greater take up of FE, HE progression routes and learning opportunities
  • To increases capacity in the FE/HE sector to deliver key skills, helping students to develop a broader set of skills and aptitudes relevant to the 21st century workplace
  • To increases resources available to schools and colleges to support Work Related Learning and work placements, including relevant and up to date careers advice and guidance
  • To offer cultural and creative industry professionals access to new sectors and potential new partnerships and increased understanding of school and FE needs and agendas


40 students attended the event at University of Surrey

The event was a mix of short presentations and informal ‘have a go’ taster sessions. SAVVY Theatre worked with students to animate puppets; photographer Jeremy Gassman briefed students to capture ‘learning coming alive’; ipad artist Paul Kircal introduced students to painting using a computer; Michael Wicherek from Box Clever provided advice on professional scripts and actors’ CVs. Students gained a better understanding of arts venues and cultural opportunities in their area.  There were also training and progression presentations and input from other industry and University professionals.

More information on Creative Cafés.

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We really enjoyed the event and hope we inspired some young people!

Lydia Stockbridge, The Boileroom

I enjoyed talking to the professionals, and learning new skills, and meeting people with expertise and experience.


It was brilliant that it was based on what we wanted to do.


It’s given us a realistic view of our future prospects – and made us more enthusiastic.


The whole event was brilliant, very impressed with the quality of the professionals… would love to get some of them over to work in school.

Steven Bean – Head of Arts Faculty at Howard of Effingham School

Thank you so much for organising the Creative Cafe, we all really enjoyed it. It was lovely that they had food and could have a drink and a bit of relaxing, informal time – I do think that time to talk to adults in an informal environment is such a rarity for our students and they really enjoyed the opportunity

Jen Bartell – Head of Drama at St Peter’s Catholic School