is a community interest company that seeks to support the wellbeing of those within the creative industries, in particular, in becoming financially sustainable, through providing opportunities, training, skills development and more. Here, I interview young founder and director, Amahra Spence, about nurturing Birmingham’s creative community.
What is your motivation? Why did you start MAIA Creatives?
MAIA Creatives stemmed from my own experiences within the creative sector, initially as a performer. I set out seeking to bridge the gaps I encountered along my journey, which largely related to lack of opportunity, equality and financial sustainability. I wanted to create a support system for artists, creative practitioners and those within the sector taking these things into account. After a pilot project which incited a discussion about barriers and goals within the industry, many of my own preconceived ideas were affirmed, in that artists were looking for support in terms of opportunity, skills development and business principle training. But I knew that emerging artists didn’t have the capital needed to acquire this and that MAIA Creatives itself needed to be sustainable. As a result, we started working in consultancy, research and development with organisations and universities, examining how institutions can utilize and nurture the skills of talented creatives to create impact. The income this generates can subsidize much of the costs in our arts and enterprise programming, making it affordable for our creative community.
How much time do you spend on online/digital communications and how important is this to your organisation?Digital communications is so important as we acknowledge that this is the space where much of our target market inhabits constantly, but also this is where conversations related to our industry often start and develop. With social media, smartphones and digital technology so prominent, people have never been so accessible. In an industry that is in constant flux, we recognize the significance of keeping up to speed with online communications.
What are the personal rewards of being involved in this initiative?
We’re a social enterprise, so we get to reinvest our profits back into our social mission. It’s a great privilege to even know what I want to do at 23, never mind being in a position where I can do what I love. By helping others and living in my purpose, I feel like I don’t have a ‘job’. I definitely work hard and commit every waking hour to the business, but I can genuinely say every day is a joy, just to know I can play a part in supporting other people to live their dream.
What are the long-term plans for MAIA Creatives and how do you intend to sustain the project?
Long-term, MAIA wants to support the creative sector become financially sustainable, and therefore make it easier for those within it to be, particularly in light of the recent general election result. Our sector is under threat, so it is now crucial to become much more innovative with business models and in our approach. We want to support the largest network of professional creatives within the region, seeking to sustain through a combination of memberships, contracts, partnerships, general sales and grant funding.
Can you describe a Creative Citizen?
A creative citizen is an active member in society; a risk-taker, an innovator, who sets about making their ideas manifest.