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Mercury Creative Entrepreneurs

Mercury Creative Entrepreneurs Programme, offers free training and mentoring for newly registered companies or self-employed people working in any area of the creative industries.

What is it?

The Mercury Creative Entrepreneurs programme is part of South East Creatives, and offers free training and mentoring to newly registered companies and freelancers in Essex. South East Creatives is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Thurrock Council, Kent County Council, East Sussex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Council, Medway Councils, Colchester Council and the University of Essex.

The purpose of the project is to offer the eligible participants the opportunity to gain essential skills from industry professionals, to give their business the best opportunity to succeed. To achieve this, we will offer a free, intensive 2-day workshop on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th December, 10am to 5pm (Lunch included).

Additionally, participants will have the amazing opportunity to have an optional one-hour, one-to-one session with a member of the experienced Mercury’s Senior Management Team.

Who is it for?

Anyone who has registered a creative business with Companies House or has registered as sole trader (freelance) with HMRC from December 2018 onwards. Creative businesses such as performing arts companies, artists, practitioners, new writers, creatives, directors, set designers, scenic artists, costume makers and technicians, to name but a few, could take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Registering is a quick and straightforward process so there is still time! Find out more about registering as sole trader, or register your Limited Company, Business Partnership or Community Interest Company now!

Please make sure to keep proof of your registration, such as a confirmation email or a screenshot with the date you registered, in case you do not receive the official paperwork before the applications deadline.


Essentials of Running a Creative Company

Friday 6 December, 10am to 1pm, with Ben Payne.

Ben is a professional writer, dramaturg, consultant and facilitator with a background in the performing arts and education.  He is also the co-founder of the Ministry of Stories (MoS), a writing and mentoring centre for children, based in east London, which lurks behind Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – London’s – and quite possibly the world’s – only shop that caters to the everyday needs of every imaginable kind of monster.  Between 2010 and 2019, he was the Ministry’s Co-Director and its National Producer, leading the scaling of its work to 4 further locations in the UK.

This year, he launched B&G, a new partnership to help individuals, charities and businesses be more creative, confident and tell a better story about what they do.

Some of the topics to be covered by Ben during this workshop include:

  • How to successfully establish a creative business.
  • Innovation techniques to develop new products and programmes.
  • Low-cost, low-risk ways to develop new ideas.

Managing your Finances

Friday 6 December, 2pm to 5pm, with Maureen Mcculloch.

Maureen is a senior lecturer in accounting at Oxford Brookes University. She is a qualified accountant specialising in the not-for-profit sector, particularly theatre. Her key areas of expertise are in accounting for charities, not for profit and social enterprises.

Maureen has considerable experience in devising and writing courses on accounting and financial management for non-accountants and in devising and facilitating training for not for profit and social enterprise board members, through her work with umbrella bodies such as the Arts Council, England & Wales, and Arts Council Scotland, the Independent Theatre Council, the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council, and the Association of British Orchestras.

Previously the Finance Director of The Reading Agency, Malvern Theatres and the Swan Theatre in Worcester, she has been a freelance trainer in the arts for twenty years.

Some of the topics to be covered by Maureen during this workshop include:

  • Accounting systems for creative enterprises.
  • Elements of accounts – income, expenditure, assets, liabilities and reserves.
  • Budgeting including overheads.
  • Cashflow.


Digital Marketing 101

Saturday 7 December, 10am to 1pm, with Karen Ainley.

Karen is the Chief Executive of Mosaic – The Integrated Marketing Agency and  specialises in helping organisations create and deliver their digital marketing strategies. A journalist by profession, having started as a reporter with Essex County Newspapers before joining BBC Essex and then BBC Look East as a reporter and newsreader.

Karen also delivers digital marketing training courses through Mosaic Media Training, as well as CIM courses for the Academy for Marketing. She has an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications and a BA (Hons) in Publishing & Computer Studies.

Some of the topics to be covered by Karen during this workshop include:

  • What is digital marketing & why is it important?
  • How to create a digital marketing plan.
  • Essentials of digital marketing (Website, SEO, Newsletters, Social media, etc.).

Effective Fundraising

Saturday 7 December, 2pm to 5pm, with Nicole Newman.

Nicole established her consultancy company in 2016, after 20 years in senior development roles in major arts organisations in the UK.  As Development Director/Project Director at English National Ballet she launched their £40m capital campaign to create a new home for ENB in east London.  She was Development Director at English National Opera, and before that at Somerset House Trust, significantly increasing revenue income over a short period.  She also led the corporate fundraising at the V&A, and before that at Tate around the opening of Tate Modern, where she established many of the commercial partnership models that still exist today.

As a consultant, Nicole has worked with a range of regional, national and international arts and education organisations, helping them to develop sustainable fundraising programmes.  She is a regular speaker at arts and culture conferences and runs fundraising training programmes throughout the UK.  She lives in London and is a Trustee of the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill and the immersive theatre company, Punchdrunk.

Some of the topics to be covered by Karen during this workshop include:

  • Key elements of a fundraising strategy.
  • Main sources of funding suitable for your organisation.
  • The Case for Support.
  • First steps in identifying supporters and prospects.


Every beneficiary will also have the opportunity to have a one-to-one session with a member of the Mercury’s Senior Management Team.

  • Steve Mannix – Executive Director: Relationship Management, Funding Applications and Project Management.
  • Tracey Childs – Executive Producer: Commercial production and negotiation.
  • Ryan McBryde – Creative Director: Artistic vision and directing.
  • Deborah Sawyerr – Deputy Executive Director: Motivational management and HR.
  • Carol Rayner – Head of Operations: Commercial opportunities development and customer relationships management.
  • Hazel Skayman – Head of Finance: Accounting and financial management.

How much does it cost and how do I apply?

Nothing! Mercury Creative Entrepreneurs is free, but limited to a maximum of 25 eligible participants, which will be selected in a first come, first served basisEarly application is advised, deadline on Fri 22 Nov.




If your company was registered before December 2018, stay tuned for more information on our Mercury Creatives programme, which will launch in November 2019!

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