SohoCreate is a festival like no other. Celebrating London's groundbreaking creativie talent, it does not center on one given field but encompasses an inspiringly wide array of creative disciplines. Household names from the worlds of theatre, television, advertising, music, games, post production, SFX, architecture, design, perfume, fashion and even chocolate making come together to share their craft and inspire!
I speak with chief executive Tom Harvey MBE about the influential annual festival which is set to become an unmissable date in the creative industry's calendar.
Tom's own illustrious career includes heading Northern Film & Media, working with North Star Ventures (Inspector George Gently, Joe Maddison's War, United, Vera) and the BBC among many others. From his early days at David Puttnam's Enigma Productions to working on television films, documentaries, short films and pop promos for Happy Mondays and New Order including their promo Toutched by the Hand of God, directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow.
Tom ran the Edinburgh International Television Festival for three years, worked in senior management at the BBC, and won a BAFTA before turning to lending his name to showcasing London's finest to the world.
I start by commenting on the astounding diversity of talent taking part at this year's event ( 4th-6th June ), from Sir John Hegarty and Ron Arad to the singer Ms Dynamite, with choclatier Paul. A. Young and hat designer Stephen Jones among an impressively long list of others in between.
Q The diversity of talent coming together is quite remarkable, I see Vicky Featherstone of the Royal Court theatre, photographer Tessa Treager, a video game designer, Perfumer, jewellery designer..
A We feel strongly about fusing disciplines. It better reflects the real life creative process where artists are inspired by and collaborate with different disciplines.
Q London's artistic spirit is world renowned, to what would you attribute London's magnetism?
A London has always been a center for creativity, going back to the Huguenots, with Soho Square playing an important part. But this is not just about London talent, we want to showcase all British talent as well as that from overseas.
Q There is magic in meeting up with people but it seems like technology is often a substitute
A Humans are better when connecting in person, we are responding to all senses when meeting with people but I agree that it is hard to get people to come together, that's why Soho is good. people here are physically close together. I believe Soho holds the most dense creative population in the world which plays a great part in keeping it creative.
Q There seems to be a clear divide between the thriving capital and the 'very quiet' rest of the country, is this an inevitability?
A It is inevitable that the capital is separate from others, more so in London where there is such a difference between the wealth of the capital and that of the rest of the country. I think we need to invest in creative companies elsewhere. Creative England is doing a fantastic job at that. Yes, London is dynamic and creative but there are plenty of creatives everywhere who deserve to be heard and seen.
Q I like the fact that you are a creative person yourself and have a grasp of what a creative's life is like. How do you feel about so many disillusioned graduates abandoning the hope of making a living as creatives?
A Many young people are over confident in their creative power but when you think about it there are very few creatives who get to the point of making 100 percent of income from art. Look at our speakers who are at the top of their profession, many still teach, act as executives, run companies.
Q You are a good example of this as you used to run The Edinburgh TV Festival and held other jobs but still kept creating, your play Pool just had a London run?
A Yes, at Jack Studio Theatre and the response has been wonderful. It is important to keep creating, networking and making your artistic voice heard.
Q SohoCreate is very much a showcase of British talent to the world which is so important in generating interest and new projects.
A We have to be proud of what we are. We are now benefiting from a liberal art biased education system and we are ripping the benefit of encouraging children to be creative. At the moment though I fear that there is not enough freedom to create in schools, where science and technology are more prominent at the expense of free artistic expression. There seem to be very few areas where you are allowed to be creative.
Showcasing talent is vital to the keeping a creative industry alive, I used to run a film commission (Northern Film & Media the creative development and investment agency in North East England ), where shocasing the local talent and locations to foreign delegations was a vital part of what we did.