The creative industry, 1 year into a pandemic: Reflections from a CEO

Grace Sodzi

creative industry

Table of Contents

Well, what a year it’s been. For all of us individually, for the creative industry but for PAPER Arts too. 

PAPER Arts sold its coworking space, then survived two lockdowns (thanks to funding from the Arts Council and Social Enterprise Support Fund) and amidst all that, had a brand new CEO thrown at it – me! 

I can’t write a blog post reflecting on 2020, without mentioning the ‘C’ word (Corona virus, not that C word). Although it looks like we can just about see the light at the end of the tunnel now that people are starting to receive vaccinations, we’re not there quite yet and no one really knows when the end will be.

What we’ve been up to this year

As an organisation we have tried to take advantage of these circumstances as much as we can, using the time to recoup and reflect on PAPER’s past, and contemplate PAPER’s future. The uncertainty everyone has faced has almost been an excuse to say ‘we don’t know what we’re doing so we might as well have a fresh start.’ And with new team and Board members, a shiny new website to come and some exciting online resources on the horizon, we are hopeful and excited for the upcoming months.

There is hope for the creative industry

Certainly, within the creative industries there needs to be some hope. Just this morning I found out a close friend has missed out on yet another opportunity of their dreams. It’s incredibly difficult for anyone to get a job at the minute, but for young creatives who are self-employed and attempting to make a career out of their talent, it has been particularly tough. My only hope is that we can take up space to encourage young creatives to keep at it and keep going, and that it is possible. There’s no place for the ‘starving artist’ rhetoric in our organisation!

My personal journey

For me personally it’s been an interesting journey. Taking on this role has been amazing as I am so passionate about supporting young creatives – indeed I dedicated our strategy report to my friends and the many, many artists I admire. But it’s also been important to make sure, as one of our lovely Board members said to me, to be my own friend as well. An important reminder for those working in the VCSE sector, to not forget ourselves.

Taking a break

Going into the Christmas period, and as we wind down as an organisation for this year, it’s a great opportunity to spend some time reflecting personally and professionally. One thing we can already congratulate everyone on, is getting through 2020! That’s not to be sniffed at or brushed aside, as we so easily can. As social creatures this era of social distancing is unnatural and we’ve all made immense sacrifices to save our NHS and the lives of many people.

I’ll be encouraging our team to spend some time on a creative project over the break, that has nothing to do with work but purely and in the most positive of selfish ways, is just for them. Keeping our creative sparks alive is so important for the well-being of ourselves and our organisation. I would urge you to do the same and get creative this Christmas!

Sending my love and colourful artsy vibes,

Grace Sodzi – CEO of PAPER Arts CIC

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The future of paper arts

A Statement from the Board of Directors


Like many organisations, PAPER Arts has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, on appointment of a highly skilled CEO, we made the bold decision to review our business model and begin a process of research and development in order to shape a new service and to better support creatives in Bristol with professional development, networking and the opportunity to learn new skills.

Throughout the pandemic we have proudly supported creatives in Bristol, with a focus on young people from St Pauls, our Creative Employment programme hosted over 20 sessions and we welcomed 17 young people to feed into our research and development proposal. 

However, the last 18 months have been a huge challenge, while we’ve been able to successfully deliver a plethora of projects since our inception seven years ago, we have been unable to secure the funding necessary to realise our ambitious plans for the future and to provide our organisation with much needed financial stability.

As a result, it is with a heavy heart that the current PAPER Arts team, made up of Grace, Kate, Katy, Lau and Amie will no longer be able to continue in their roles. Our small team has delivered a substantial amount of value to the community we serve and the Board of Directors are endlessly grateful for the skills and professionalism they bring with them each and every day. We are proud to know and work alongside such talented individuals and believe that the arts sector is a better place with them in it. 

The ideas generated by this team are inspiring and hopeful and the Board of Directors wholeheartedly believe in the importance of supporting the creative community in Bristol.

As September ends and the seasons change PAPER Arts will be going into hibernation in order to survive this adversity. Our voluntary Board of Directors will spend the coming months considering the future of PAPER Arts, the role we can play in the arts sector in Bristol and how we can sustainably move forwards. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but as soon as we are able to share more with you we will. 

In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns or if you would like to speak to someone about the future of PAPER Arts please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] – Kirsten Cree, one of the Board of Directors will be monitoring this inbox. 

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