Today we are talking with Roy Jones, the director of Pacificstream, a company specialised in supporting entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds across a diverse range of the creative and digital industries.
Roy, you have been involved with the creative industries since 1971, so you can evaluate things from more wide perspective. What is your opinion about present creative industries situation? Did it change from the time you started to work in this field?
Speaking of it from being in UK, there has been a difference; first of all, whole digital thing appeared. When I started to work in creative industries we didn’t even had a computer. Also, what I suppose happened here in the UK is that the creative industry as a sector is seen as very significant for development of cities. Liverpool for example, just only this week, recognizes that they have created more digital design jobs that any other city in the North of England.
This area where we are at the moment is a creative quarter. Ten years ago we moved here and we were the only company working with the creative industry. This area now is just full of people working in the creative industry, so it’s like every other person walking down the street is carrying a guitar.
The other side of that is when I first started to work in creative working it was easier to get employment within the big companies. Nowadays, it’s very difficult. So, a lot of people start their own businesses and that’s where we involve, we support young people setting up there their own businesses within the creative industry. We work with designers, musicians, performers, etc. helping them start their business. It always have been self-employed designers, one person, company if you like, working individually, but it’s so much more important recently, because it’s just so difficult to get work, it’s so competitive.
It seems that it is really hard for creative people to break through nowadays, cause of the competition on the market. So, how exactly Pacific Stream support young creative people to make their businesses really working?
It’s making sure that they have right business head, you have to have entrepreneurial approach to work. And again, traditionally people in creative industries haven’t been entrepreneurs, they don’t think like business people. That’s a big generalization, but also it’s true. You don’t find many artists that consider themselves businessmen. And it’s around intellectual property as well, getting people to recognize the true worth of their intellectual properties, their ideas. We’ve been in the industry where people give so much away and the art is not valued in the same way. If you employ a lawyer or a plumber you are ready to pay them to get it right, you believe they have right knowledge and skills to get a job done. But in the same time, an artist or a designer, they have a lot of skills, lot of knowledge they have gained over the years but people don’t seem to appreciate it in the same way or to understand it in the same way. Classic example ´why should I pay that much for a painting? ´
Or for a photography.
Yes, nowadays we can all take photos on our smartphones, but we are not photographers, are we? And you can see the difference between somebody that has the understanding of design and form, colours and everything else. So we help people to promote and market themselves, help them run their business, what they need legally as a business, all that stuff they need to know to operate.
And can you tell me, what are benefits of Pacific Stream to be a part of AYCH?
We were the fist people with Plymouth who talked about the whole idea. Plymouth College of Art came up to see us, see what we were doing with business development on the business incubator we have, operating it with creative industries. That is how came the idea of the project of AYCH. Together with Plymouth we were almost the instigators of the project in the first place, cause it’s something we were involved on various levels for many years. Previously one of our big European projects was looking at virtual incubation for the creative industries. Now this project works with more actual hands-on support, so in this case bricks-and-mortar co working space. Bricks-and-mortar incubator rather than virtual one. So, we’ve been involved with this work, twelve years or more, with this area.
So how the incubation is working?
We have space in Liverpool where people can come and have a desk to work, so they can be people coming in with access 24/7 and we are there to give them help, we call it hot desk. So they can come just for few hours of a day, or 3 days a week, a week, it depends of what they want. There is a cost of that, but in the moment we are able to subsidise that through the project. And those who are in the project they have to pay as well, but it is still very low rate, it’s not expensive. We try to make it easy as possible to them to have a physical space where they can work out and they work in the area that is full of other creative people. There are so many people to co-working, so a lot of work is done by just bumping into someone else in the café. If you are a graphic designer you may need a photographer, if you are a photographer you may need a videographer and so on.
What is your target audience?
Anyone who has a creative idea, so it doesn’t have to be a person involved directly in creative industries. If they have creative idea we approach it the way so they can develop that idea, that idea may become a business or it may help to build a portfolio. We’ve got two engineers and two doctors working with at the moment on an idea that has nothing to do with health. I am working with the group of Chinese student studying international business and their idea is to develop an app for promoting tourism within China town here in Liverpool.
My background is education. I was an art teacher for many years, so I moved to Liverpool to teach art. I think I am the only business advisor with art degree. I got out of Academia 20 years ago but because my teaching was around photography and drawing and though photography I got more involved in teaching some new technologies around web design in Photoshop and all that kind of applications. It was through web design I got more involved in business, because we started designing websites for companies but we ending up supporting the company as well. And then within the European work we were the partner who did a website for communication site of the project.