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Creative Cities Convention director Ruth Pitt on one way to support struggling screen sector workers

I moved house recently and decided to change the locks as a precautionary measure. The locksmith duly arrived and I offered tea while he chiselled away and made me feel a whole lot more secure in the process. We got talking and guess what? He was in fact a first assistant director who’d worked on some big network dramas and had a wealth of experience in his field. But times are tight - and re-training as a locksmith has turned out to be a great safety blanket during downturns.

It’s not an unfamiliar tale. All over the country, and across all genres, we know people are struggling. Some are leaving the industry in search of more reliable income streams. Others are hanging on, supplementing their incomes with second jobs in hospitality, retail and even childminding. Media charities are forking out record sums in crisis support.

Ruth Pitt Headshot

Ruth Pitt

For those of us lucky enough to have climbed the career ladder in more gilded times it’s hard to compute. But the slowdown is real enough – and manifesting itself in many ways as we progress our plans for the Creative Cities Convention.

On the sunny side, everyone’s looking forward to congregating in Bristol this year and meeting up with mates from across the UK, as we focus once again on issues that affect anyone producing or distributing screen content outside London. Connecting with other creatives is always a good recipe for fun and the CCC is a chance for delegates to exchange common interests and concerns, whether home is Aberdeen or Exeter, Belfast or Rhyl, Norfolk or Manchester.

Speaking of sunshine, this has been a golden year for drama that somehow manages to reach the parts other genres cannot reach. We’re celebrating the very best of the crop in Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, written by Yorkshire based Gwyneth Hughes and directed by James Strong. We’re delighted that James is coming along to share insights on the public response to the series and to talk about the power of drama to deliver lasting social impact.

Meanwhile if you’re after the perfect mix of light and darkness in your drama, look no further than The Outlaws, back for its third series this Spring and set in the heart of Bristol. We’re excited that the show’s brilliant executive producer Kenton Allen will be bringing with him some of the awesome ensemble cast members to round off Day One of our event.

But the sun is not always shining this Spring. The higher-volume, lower-budget returning shows that sustain so many regional indies are in short supply. As advertising revenues fall, extreme measures are needed to keep many organisations afloat. Cash-strapped local councils are re-evaluating investment in regional screen sector growth. And in a crowded marketplace where new creative technologies are challenging traditional methods of production, there are plenty of people becoming convinced that their living, breathing skills will soon give way to artificial intelligence.

We’ve scheduled a big session called Shifting The Dial to look at how we can future-proof our workforce. And brand new ScreenSkills CEO Laura Mansfield will be making her first public appearance since her appointment to offer a view on equipping industry professionals with new skills to survive the current challenges.

“We’ve kept prices to a minimum and sold record numbers thus far”

It breaks my heart that as a non-profit conference ploughing every penny of revenue back into our event we can’t do more to help directly.

We’ve kept prices to a minimum and sold record numbers of tickets already this year, which shows there’s a strong will out there to come to the Creative Cities Convention and really connect. It may be cold out there but it’ll be warm where we are on April 23rd and 24th at our biggest venue yet – the wonderfully refurbished Bristol Beacon.

So here’s a thought. Why not help a valued freelance who you know isn’t working right now to come to conference?

It’s a big ask but the benefits are self-evident: good karma for you and a chance for struggling freelancers to network like mad and mug up on a massive range of industry issues affecting anyone working outside London. There are debates on artificial intelligence, sustainability, the future of landmark TV and factual formats, tips on international success, re-skilling, amazing insights into some of the biggest dramas of the year and a chance to pitch your ideas straight to commissioners from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Paramount, Sky and UTKV.

£100 will help us discount the ticket price and boost freelancers’ chances of finding their next job. Drop us a line with your nominated person’s name and email address and at and we’ll do the rest.

Go on, you know you want to. And just like the first-AD-turned-locksmith who fixed my house, you’ll be helping someone feel just that little bit safer.