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Opinion and Insight

I-Manifest: Creating Innovators of Tomorrow, 2 years, 7 months ago

Larissa Meikle catches up with the Sydney-based creative charity's founder and director Jo Pretyman

I-Manifest: Creating Innovators of Tomorrow

One of the more exciting grass roots initiatives occurring in Sydney is a youth charity called I-Manifest. Working closely with government, education, advertising agencies, production and post companies, as well as many other fields of creativity, I-Manifest connects this economy with young talent and future creative innovators. 

It is a charity with a strong social mission – simply, to alleviate youth unemployment. The creative industries provide a unique vehicle, constantly needing new blood, talent and specifically, that little extra magic found in creativity.

Founded in Australia, and with increasing global relevance, the charity is expanding its vision and programs around the country and the world. It works closely with youth who are marginalised to break the cycle of unemployment and poverty by providing real pathways for them to pursue a career in the creative economy.

Founder and director, Jo Pretyman, believes the problem and the answer was such a natural fit, it seemed too obvious to be true. “We need them and they need us,” she said. “It really is as simple as that. The Australian condition is replicated all over the world. Young people everywhere, whether poor or remote, struggling to learn or suppressing their innate creativity, are frequently the superstar innovators of tomorrow. Advertising is one such sector and there are many areas of creative enterprise in which this is also true.”

Using creative currency, technology, education and innovation to provide these pathways, mentorship and authentic options, the charity is inclusive. However it also seeks to shine a light on the special spirit and talent in young people, particularly those whose options are limited through poverty, geography, disability or culture clash.

The charity works to inspire, empower and educate young people to develop careers in the incredibly diverse and growing group of industries internationally that make up the creative economy – a sector in constant of need the next generation’s native technology, talent and innovation.

Through its four pillars, Inspired Education, Connected Communities, Creative Careers and Thought Leadership, the charity works with individuals, schools, communities, companies, and major events, to be an interactive hub. It essentially joins the dots and enables pathways to create real life solutions to the lack of education, employment and support opportunities the next generation face on a daily basis.

Two of I-Manifest’s fundamental programs include the I-Manifest STUDIO – a three-day workshop series during the VIVID Sydney Festival. This brings together over 20 mentors – successful creatives from a range of disciplines – to work with 120 high-school students drawn from the city’s outer suburbs. It incorporates theoretical learning, real professional experience and mentorship. In its third year, it is fast becoming a solid inclusion in Sydney’s famous festival of light and ideas. Other programs occur throughout the year attached to flagship industry festivals such as Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, TEDx Youth and various initiatives with MTV.

In an education context, the Inspired Education program has been developed to align with the curriculum and as a term-based subject, again incorporating experience and mentorship with successful creative professionals. Companies such as Clemenger BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi are amongst the close supporters and collaborators of these programs.

In the latest Brotherhood of St Laurence report, more than 290,000 Australians aged 15 to 24 were unemployed in January 2015. The worst hit being the 160,000 between 15 to 19-year-olds with an unemployment rate of 20 per cent - a level not seen since the mid 1990’s. This means one in five unemployed Australians today is a teenager. 

“65 per cent of the jobs our young people will be doing in a decade from now haven’t been invented yet,” Pretyman said. “It’s a crazy statistic but true. We have around 20 per cent youth unemployment in some parts of this country and it’s a growing tragic situation that breeds despair. We are dedicated to giving kids a chance to understand they can be creative and have a real, sustainable career. We are dedicated to being part of the solution.”

The charity says its goal is simple and its aim is true - to Break The Cycle. With the belief in technology and creativity being the unarguable future and the credo that creativity is the new currency - crossing borders and languages, politics and cultures – it’s hard to argue with them.

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Category: Charity , Corporate and social