David Abraham, Chief Executive
David Abraham, Channel 4's Chief Executive, today announced the launch of The Alpha Fund, an annual fund designed to identify and support creative talent at its earliest stage. In its first year the fund will launch at £2 million.
Speaking at today's Nations & Regions Media Conference in Salford Abraham said: "We need to look to support great creative individuals, fund the work of smaller companies and reach those parts of the creative culture that other broadcasters cannot or dare not visit. So I am today announcing The Alpha Fund, a new grassroots innovation and authorship fund which is intended to fund the very first stages of creative ideas."
The Alpha Fund will be managed by Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4's Director of Creative Diversity and a team of Media Project Managers who will have deep roots in creative communities across the UK. They have been tasked with being closer to grassroots creative communities, often in advance of commissioning editors, to talent spot, to shape smart ideas and to develop them for the wider creative diversity of the company.
Abraham added: "One of the great truths of early talent development is that a little money goes a long way. So among the first batch of Alpha commissions is the first moving image film by multi award-winning photo-journalist David Gillanders from Glasgow, who's spent three years underground with homeless Ukrainian teenagers. In addition we are funding a unique film project with one of Black Britain's most exciting writer-performers Debbie Tucker Green, and three new projects from Belfast where talent often feels marginalised."
The Alpha Fund will sit alongside Channel 4's Convergent Formats Fund, also worth £2 million in 2011. Abraham said: "The Convergent Formats Fund will invest in ideas, apps and creative concepts for the next generation of connected TV like YouView. It will pioneer new ideas for a new generation of broadcast television and the objective is to become the partner of choice for the most imaginative digital media companies in the UK."
Abraham also announced a further push to improve Channel 4's regional creative development and commisioning by announcing its first ever commitment to regional targets for digital media in the UK.
Abraham explained: "Channel 4 is passionate about stimulating next generation creativity and together with the two new funds we have announced, we aim to match or exceed our regional targets online, on digital interactive platforms. So in the next two years we will endeavour to ensure that at least 35% of our annual-spend in digital media commissioning, will be from new and emergent companies from outside London. This equates to over £4m of new spend. It's a self-imposed target but one we believe to be in the spirit of our role as a catalyst for creativity and is further evidence of Channel 4 Online's ongoing integration into a single cross platform content division."