Creative Kernow

Creative Kernow

Creative Kernow, based at Krowji, is the umbrella organisation for the following nine projects. Together we support the production, promotion and distribution of work by creative practitioners in Cornwall because we believe in creativity’s transformative power and want more people to benefit from it.

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Graduate Start-up Programme

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Starting out can be one of the most challenging times. Through a combination of business coaching, skills workshops and subsidised workspace we help start-ups to find their feet.

We’ll provide training in all the key skills like building an audience, digital marketing and managing your finances. We’ll help you to meet the right people, plugging you into networks that are relevant to your industry.

Please Note: if you have been on the Graduate Start-up Programme in Cultivator Phase 1, you will not be eligible to go on the programme again.

Any questions? Read the FAQ...

What is the graduate start-up programme?

The Graduate Start-up Programme is designed to intensively support you to develop your creative business during the first 6-8 months of your start-up journey following graduation

The Programme provides a creatively tailored programme of business skills workshops, networking events, regular coaching sessions with a Graduate Business Advisor and opportunity to be part of a final showcase exhibition through Cultivator.

Alongside the tailored one-to-one support is a grant of up to £700 towards rental costs for the six months of taking on a workspace between June 2022 and January 2023

Participants will also be able to apply for professional mentoring and skills grants as part of the support designed to fast track their professional careers as creative businesses.

Places on the programme are limited and hard-won and therefore a high degree of commitment is required.

What is the graduate start-up studio award?

Alongside the tailored one-to-one support is a grant of up to £1,400 towards rental costs for the first year of taking on a workspace. Participants will also be supported to access other parts of the Cultivator programme such as the Creative Export Programme, the Creative Investment Grant and specialist mentoring with industry experts as well as referral to other relevant business support and training or development.

How many places are there on the programme?

We have allocated funds for 12 awards between June 2022 and January 2023  limited to those working as visual artists in any discipline or designer-makers.

What are the eligibility criteria?

You must meet the following criteria if you want to apply to the programme:

  • Live and work in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly
  • Be within five years of graduating from a BA, MA or PhD qualification (valid career break can be considered in special circumstances)
  • Be setting up a creative business as visual artist or designer maker.
  • Be pre-trading, or be 12 months or less from their first significant invoice and start of regular trading to be considered as a start-up business
  • Need a workspace in Cornwall that is outside your home
  • Be registered with HMRC or Companies House or intending to do so within six months of applying to the Graduate Start-up Programme.

What is considered a valid career break?

You may have had children, caring responsibilities or health issues immediately following graduation and been unable to set up your creative business for several years. We are happy to consider applications where this is the case if you can provide a clear explanation along with the application.

What are Cultivator looking for in an applicant?

  • An ambitious, positive and self-starting approach
  • Demonstrable professional commitment to their chosen creative field
  • Passion, drive and focus is evident in the realisation of the creative work
  • The applicant’s creative work is finished to a high standard
  • Evidence that the creative work has a potential market(s) and a viable business can be developed from the work
  • Evidence of relevant prior experience that enhances understanding of the realities of running a business (not essential)
  • A strong commitment to the coaching and learning available on the Cultivator Startup programme is demonstrated. The individual demonstrates a self-reflective and open approach to their own development
  • A desire to trade nationally and internationally
  • 100% commitment to developing a creative business that will provide a sustainable income. Openness to business growth to a point of employing others is welcome but not essential for this programme

What is the process for applying to the Graduate Start-up Programme?

As we are looking for start-up creative businesses with the best potential, we have a series of steps to our process to ensure the programme is right for you and that you are right for our programme. In most instances it is likely that we can ensure that you get help of some kind even if it is not through our Graduate Start Up programme.

You may be referred by a Cultivator team member or one of our partner organisations (which include Higher Education providers) directly to our Graduate Start-up Business Adviser. In this instance, our adviser will have a chat with you and work out the best next steps. If the programme is appropriate for you, you will then be asked to start the sign-up process with our admin team, and you will be sent an application form to complete.

Alternatively, you may be directed to our sign-up process in the first instance and go through our main admin team at [email protected] or our phone number 01209 312501. In this instance, our team will get you started on completing the necessary sign-up paperwork and if you are eligible to apply you will then have a phone conversation or meeting with our Graduate Start-up Advisor prior to completing the application form.

The next step is to complete the application form in written or video form. The questions on the form are designed to help you to begin to really focus on some of the key areas you need to consider when starting a business. The questions also help us to understand more about you and the skills you have in preparation for your business journey. As part of the application, we ask for references, examples of your work and an up to date CV or statement about you to help us to get a broader picture. We want to get the best from you so please talk to us if you need help with anything on the form or you have concerns.

If you are applying for a workspace that you have identified yourself, you will also need to submit written quotations from 3 potential workspace providers and explain why you have chosen one of them.

The final stage is a panel selection process. The selection will involve a panel who review the applications and use a fair scoring system to asses against the key criteria identified above that match to the programme requirements.

You will then be officially offered a place on the programme in writing and asked to sign and return documentation relating to the offer.


Can I apply if I am an undergrad?

Yes – as long as you will complete your qualification by July 2022

Can I apply if I am a mature student or graduate?

Yes! We would love to hear from you.

What sort of work space can I apply for?

Any type of workspace is eligible as long as we agree that it suits your needs.  Krowji have a database of creative space providers. Cornwall Growth Hub can also provide information on office space to let in Cornwall.

Please note that these resources are not exhaustive and we are happy for you to source your own space and tell us why it is your preferred option.

Can I apply for workspace outside of Cornwall?

Your space needs to be within convenient daily travelling distance of your home address. For this reason, we can consider spaces that are in Devon as long as they are close to where you live,  but can’t support space in, for example, Bristol or London.

Intellectual property: who owns it?

You do. Any intellectual property created during the course of the business support given to participants through the Graduate Start-up Programme resides with the creative businesses themselves. Our Graduate Business Advisor operates within a strict code of client confidentiality. Any confidential or sensitive information or opinion disclosed by either party that is not in the public domain will be kept confidential unless disclosure is agreed beforehand. Where there is any doubt, confidentiality will be maintained

How is the studio grant calculated?

The grant is intended to cover the rental costs of a workspace up to a maximum of £700 over 6 months and we will need a copy of the tenancy agreement between you and your landlord setting out the rental costs.  We expect the rent for your studio to be calculated on the same basis as any other studios operated on that site by the landlord. If the rent exceeds the grant then you will be responsible for paying the difference. This will be slightly different for the workspace hubs.

How is the studio grant paid?

We will set up direct payment to your landlord who will need to invoice Cultivator on a regular basis – either monthly or quarterly, to be agreed, with you making up any shortfall on each rental period.  It is up to you to operate within the terms of your studio/ office tenancy agreement and to ensure that you communicate regularly with your landlord and address any issues directly with your landlord if and where necessary. The process will be slightly different for the workspace hubs.

What if I have to give up my studio space before my grant period ends?

If for any reason you need to give up your studio before the end of the period of grant support from Cultivator this must be discussed with Cultivator immediately. NB If you terminate your studio rental before the end of a month within the Cultivator award period, you may be liable to repay Cultivator the rental for that month.

If during the programme period your landlord gives you notice to quit for whatever reason you should also talk to us immediately.

Can I sub-let my studio space

No. Sub-letting is not permitted whilst in receipt of the Cultivator Graduate Start-up Grant.

What happens if there is an unresolvable dispute between myself and my landlord?

Any disputes between you and your landlord need to be resolved between you with reference to the tenancy contract signed by both parties at the start of the tenancy. We can’t get formally involved in this, but we may be able to help, so do talk to us if you feel that would be useful. If a resolution cannot be reached then you need to tell us in writing and we can discuss the next steps regarding your grant.

What if I want to leave the programme before the support has ended?

Cultivator reserves the right to remove funding and support if you fail to use the studio for the purpose for which the grant was given, if you breach your tenancy agreement or if you fail to engage in the intended development process. There may be circumstances where you need to give up your workspace during the year in order to further your career – for example, if you are offered a residency outside Cornwall that’s too good to refuse.  Talk to your Graduate Business Advisor if that happens.