WITH politicians bickering about the way to rescue our shaky economy, it’s easy to be gloomy about the state of British business. After all, we’re just a small, rainy island off the coast of Europe. It would be no surprise if we were an also-ran in the global economy, but for centuries Britain has punched well above its weight and it continues to do so – and we’re often at our best when it comes to getting creative.
If you think about the booming creative industries at the start of the 21st century, then British talent is right there in the mix. In the gaming industry, for example, the fantastically successful Grand Theft Auto game was created by Edinburgh-based video game developer Rockstar North. Even chancellor Alistair Darling recognised the importance of gaming in his recent budget, offering tax cuts to the industry.
In the film industry, British actors are seen as the pinnacle of performance talent, particularly our women actors – just look at the awards and nominations that have been showered on the likes of Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Kate Winslet in recent years. Mirren was nominated this year too, as was Carey Mulligan, who along with Emily Blunt, Robert Pattinson and Aaron Johnson represents the vanguard of the new wave of British screen talent.
But it’s not just in front of the cameras that Brits rule the roost. There are dozens of other British success stories in the film world. Sandy Powell and Ray Beckett might not be such household names, but they won the Oscar for costume design this year for Young Victoria. Other Brits nominated at this year’s awards included Nick Hornby, nominated for writing An Education, and Barry Ackroyd, cinematographer on best picture winner The Hurt Locker.
And in the world of fashion, we Brits rule the world. Models such as Lily Cole and Rosie Huntington-Whitely grace catwalks, fashion spreads and billboards all over the planet, while the likes of Stella McCartney, John Galliano, Giles Deacon and Vivienne Westwood are among the best-loved designers around. Great British brands such as Burberry and Dunhill are known in all corners of the world, while the English men’s suit – as exemplified by the tailors of Savile Row – is a by-word for smart men’s style from boardrooms to dinner parties the world over.
In art, we have perhaps the world’s pre-eminent living artists, Damien Hirst and Lucien Freud, while Brits including Peter Doig, Anthony Caro and urban prankster Banksy fetch huge prices at auction. In the music world, of course, we wrote the rulebook with The Beatles and Rolling Stones, rewrote it with the Sex Pistols and the punk movement, and these days Radiohead, Coldplay and Take That pack out international arenas, while Hot Chip, Block Party and LCD Soundsystem prove that wherever there’s a cutting edge, British acts will right up against it.
The British Inspiration Awards have been created to celebrate just these sorts of success stories. “We tend to be so negative in this country, but we have so much to offer,” says British Inspiration Awards organiser David Yarnton, general manager of Nintendo UK. “It’s time we celebrated the things that we do well. Rather than hiding our nation’s light under a bushel, these awards are designed to help Britain develop a positive spirit for the future. There are a lot of great, creative people in this country, and we should shout about it.”
Awards will be given for those who have excelled in film, television, fashion, design, science and technology, interactive recognition and more.
The winners will receive an award in the shape of Boudica, the queen of the ancient Britons, “a forward looking woman who inspired others around her”, and it will be in four shades, to represent England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the four constituents of the United Kingdom.
Among those so far confirmed to present awards – with winners chosen by the public – are television presenters Ant & Dec and Philip Schofield. Music will come courtesy of pop star Paloma Faith, the Irish Guards Regimental Band, Smash Broz and Strange Fruit. Money raised on the day will go to charities including Help for Heroes, GamesAid and Cancer Research UK. So get along and celebrate the best of British.
The inaugural British Inspiration Awards will take place on Friday the 23rd of April at The Brewery, Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SD from 1:30pm until 3:30. Lunch and drinks will be served. For more information, see: www.britishinspirationawards.co.uk.