New Year Honours 2018 recognise Swindon & Wiltshire Arts Excellence

New Year Honours 2018 recognise Swindon & Wiltshire Arts Excellence
30 December 2017

The Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) is delighted that its Board Member Shahina Johnson has been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen in the New Year 2018 Honours list. Shahina is CEO and Artistic Director at Create Studios, Swindon and will receive an MBE for Services for the Arts and Creative Industries in Swindon & Wiltshire at a ceremony at St James’s Palace in the Spring.

Based in the heart of Swindon’s emerging cultural quarter, Create Studios is an award-winning digital agency growing the next generation of digital media creatives through a range of production opportunities and experiences. Create Studios is committed to investing in talented young people enabling them to develop digital skills. Its inclusion programmes offer opportunities to transform lives, encouraging people to develop their potential. 

Create Studios draws together communities through social history and issue-based projects supported by partners including Swindon Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.  These projects engage 7,000 participants a year building aspiration and digital skills in film, photography, gaming and more.  The recent Digital Journeys project reached over 30,000 through its touring exhibition of film, apps and photography celebrating the diverse people and place of Swindon as part of Swindon175 celebrations. Create’s new Graduate Returner support programme, Create Futures is the current scheme to help young people into paid employment in the creative industries locally, with a second cohort starting in January. The team is also very proud of the alumni of young people working nationally and internationally who began their journey with Create. 

Shahina’s contribution to the arts and creative industries has spanned 25 years, and she has been able to use that experience to benefit other regional organisations through her role on the SWLEP Board where she has been proud to support its priority around Place-shaping, knowing that culture, civic pride and positive life chances are important for economic and social wellbeing. The SWLEP’s priorities around Digital and Skills Development are also important to Shahina who is supporting long-term plans to benefit the region.  

Shahina also supports the Board of Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, where her experience of inclusion approaches has supported their aim to make Watershed’s offer more accessible to all. Shahina has supported Cultural Education through Swindon’s network Artsmad, and nationally when she managed the development of the Artsbox website and app for the Department of Education.

On hearing the news Shahina reflected, “I have been so privileged to work in arts and culture for 25 years, and I so appreciate the people and organisations who have supported me. The Creative Industries are growing at double the rate of other sectors, and I am committed to making the journey into that world a wholesome one for all young people in our region. I am incredibly proud for my journey to have been recognised with the MBE award, and want to thank my team at Create for enabling all this to happen.”