Conservatoire creates access routes into creative careers

Economic Transformation in our Nation

Universities have a strong culture of delivery which aligns closely with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation. We’ve curated a set of 19 stories to show how universities support people, businesses, industries and Scotland’s regions towards economic transformation.

Nurturing talent from all backgrounds to transform lives and the arts

Colleen Bell is a graduate of the BA Filmmaking degree programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and winner of the Writing and Factual categories at the Royal Television Society Scotland Student Awards 2022, for her film The Space I Occupy. Colleen went on to win the Student Television Award at the RTS Scotland Awards later that year.

As an estranged student, Colleen’s storytelling through film is influenced by her lived experience. Her journey into the Conservatoire was supported by the institution’s belief in nurturing the creative potential of young Scots who experience barriers to participation.

The Conservatoire has a dedicated Fair Access team that works with GMAC Film, an open-access media centre, to create a more diverse pipeline of talent, drawn from all backgrounds, which will help to transform the industry. Together, the partnership ensures that people from postcodes identified as being within the 20% most deprived areas, using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), as well as those who are care experienced and estranged, have equitable access to arts education and training.

In her third year, Colleen worked on What it Means to be Me, a project between RCS’s Fair Access team and GMAC Film, which created a series of inspiring films – followed by a screening and discussion event – for people with lived experiences of the care system.

Colleen is part of a collective of undergraduate and postgraduate care experienced and estranged students who were supported to design and deliver a project for other young care experienced participants.

During her studies, Colleen received scholarship support to enable her to follow her dream of telling stories on screen.

Colleen said:

“I can’t express enough how much I would not be here if it wasn’t for the scholarship. I work part-time and the scholarship has allowed me to reduce my hours so that I can study the thing that I love. I feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude that because of other people, I am here.”

The partnership between the Conservatoire’s Fair Access team and GMAC Film enables support for individual emerging artists like Colleen. Together, the two organisations are working with award-winning documentary filmmaker Steven Bennett to support a care-experienced young person to train as a film archivist. Student trainees will be paid a living wage to participate.

As well as the transformative effect on the lives of individuals, like Colleen, ensuring a greater diversity of talent enters the performing arts is vital to Scotland’s creative industries. The creative industries are a growth sector, worth £5 billion to the Scottish Economy each year. The screen sector alone contributed £567.6 million to Scotland’s economy in 2019, providing 10,280 full-time equivalent jobs according to a 2022 report.


Image © RTS Scotland-Karyn Priestly. With thanks.

Key Points:

National Strategy for Economic Transformation theme: Fair and more equal society

Institution: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Location: Glasgow

  • The Conservatoire has a dedicated Fair Access team, in collaboration with GMAC Film, to support greater diversity in the performing arts.