The Mango Lab @ SohoCreate press launch

Described as the most creative square mile in the world Soho is a labyrinth of artistic businesses. For the third year SohoCreate aims to inspire, celebrate and connect the wealth of creatives based there. The Mango Lab sat down with CEO Tom Harvey to hear his thoughts on the future of creativity and what it means for young people.

The festival is an opportunity to dive into the creative brain that populates Soho and all the companies that make up its lobes. Creativity is integral in society, yet the educational curriculum often forgoes creativity for more academic subjects. As Tom says: “Creativity isn’t about cutting, it’s about growth – it’s about new ideas, it’s about people and it’s about doing things in new ways.”

In an event that celebrates the artist’s voice across all disciplines we’re prone to ask what the trajectory of creativity is in this digital age. Creativity isn’t taught enough in schools and there are young people now who are creative and don’t know they are. It’s important to protect it and help young people understand that there are jobs in creative fields. It is attainable. After all, creativity can change the world.


What is your perspective on the future of creativity?
I think you have to start looking at what creativity is; we’ve always been creative as human beings and we always will be. We always need to express ourselves, so in some senses the future of creativity is the same. We’ll always need to tell stories; we’ll always need to create works of art that express our real selves. That’s what creativity is. In terms of the technology we use to do it that changes every 20 years. The stories people are telling on their iPhones is pretty similar to the stories they told on a Bolex 20 years before.

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If the future of creativity is that we’re still talking the same stories, how do young creatives make that a business in the future? Is that changing?
I think that’s definitely changing. If you go back 10 years people were making a huge amount of money from ringtones. What’s the next thing you can find? I think those are glitches in a way – apps are the current thing people are obsessing about, but even that market has completely changed in that the idea now is that you can build an app and a million people are going to buy it. You probably need about 10 million to market it to get that many people to buy it – it’s absolutely huge and the marketing budgets for these sorts of things are absolutely monstrous to get those things out there.

The lesson for people is you go from creativity, which is the desire to express yourself, but then you might go into craft, which are the technical skills to put something creative together. But then you hit distribution and marketing that’s a whole other art form. That’s very different – there are very few artists who can do the lot.

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What we’ve noticed in Soho is that the fashion boutiques and independent clothing lines that are coming up have the craft and the product but the shops seem empty. But for them to take it to that next level of marketing means they will risk as much as they can…
There are all sorts of reasons. Rent here is pretty high, as you know, so if they’re empty they’re not going to be around for very long. If you look at Soho the creative industries within Soho have a £7.5 billion turnover with 46,000 creative industry workers – that makes it one of the top ten creative clusters in the entire world.

There is a whole hierarchy of companies capitalised with £6 billion right down to the smaller artists and voiceover studios – you want to protect the smaller ones because they are part of the economy. You also want the big ones. People say Soho should be a village and actually it is a village but it’s a village that has got Twitter, Ping, Framestore, Spotify – it’s a really important, creative village. I think it’s incredibly healthy and young people need to know the environment they’re coming into – they can’t just sit and be creative. They have to be entrepreneurial as well. Working with other people nowadays is absolutely key.

What is your advice to young creatives and how can they test talent?
Testing talent is: can they make stuff that sells? For a young creative looking to get into the creative industry, start now, don’t wait. The worst thing that you can do is waste time. If you want to be a musician play music in front of people. If you want to be a filmmaker make films and show it to people. If you want to be in theatre write the stuff and get it on a stage. Just start. Don’t think somehow it’s going to happen in 10 years. Start now. You learn by doing it.

SohoCreate will take place from June 6-10

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