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Posted 08.06.17

Plymouth College of Art awarded Social Enterprise Gold Mark

By Phillip Buchan

Plymouth College of Art has been awarded the Social Enterprise Gold Mark by Social Enterprise Mark CIC.

The prestigious Gold Mark, which was first launched at the House of Commons in 2014, was awarded to the college this week at the national Broadening Horizons conference in Winchester, making us equal-third, amongst UK university sector institutions, to bear the Gold Mark.

Richard Cobbett, Assessment and Compliance Manager at Social Enterprise Mark CIC, commended Plymouth College of Art on how well ingrained social impact is in its culture and across all activities: “Social impact is part of the natural fabric at Plymouth College of Art. This was evidenced in my conversations with staff at various levels, who can very easily point to both the internal social impact and value being created for their key student stakeholders, and for the wider communities of which they are a part.”

“This award is testimony to Plymouth College of Arts’ total commitment to education, creativity, culture and social enterprise." – Dom Jinks, Director of Plymouth Culture

The Gold Mark offers enhanced accreditation to social enterprises which can demonstrate social enterprise excellence. It’s about measuring what makes a social enterprise excellent, and how they can continue to improve their impact. Successful applicants receive an individually tailored action plan for continuous improvement, in line with guidelines of best practice. Applications are assessed by the independent Certification Panel against three essential areas of business operations:

  • Governance – stakeholder representation in strategy and operation
  • Business ethics – complaints handling, diversity, equality, pay, workplace issues and social auditing
  • Social impact and financial transparency – how income and profits are used to create added social and environmental impact

The Gold Mark for creative education

The Gold Mark enables organisations to show the people that matter – staff, students, clients and partners – how they govern and operate their business to create social and environmental benefit. Plymouth College of Art joins existing Gold Mark holders – University of Salford, Integrated Care 24, and York St John University. The University of Northampton and The University of Winchester were also awarded the Gold Mark at the recent awards ceremony. The awards were presented by James Evans, who is a member of the independent Certification Panel, which upholds the rigour of the assessment process and oversees the process of applications and assessments. They have the final decision on all applications for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.

“Social impact is part of the natural fabric at Plymouth College of Art." – Richard Cobbett, Assessment and Compliance Manager at Social Enterprise Mark CIC

Plymouth College of Art’s Principal and Chief Executive, Professor Andrew Brewerton, said: “Creative learning is transformational: in terms of individual lives, the life of our community and its prosperity within the UK’s world-leading creative economy.

“The work of our staff and students at Plymouth College of Art and at The Red House, home to Plymouth School of Creative Arts, is deeply embedded in our community, and we feel honoured and delighted that this commitment over many years has been recognised with the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. This is in truth an acknowledgement  of our community as a whole, and everybody across our networks of social engagement in Plymouth as a Social Enterprise City.”

Plymouth - The Social Enterprise City

In 2012 Plymouth hosted its first week-long Social Enterprise City festival, organised by the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network. In 2013 Plymouth was announced by Social Enterprise UK as one of the first two Social Enterprise Cities in the UK, as part of a national accredited scheme that now includes a total of only three cities.

“Creative learning is transformational." – Professor Andrew Brewerton, Principal and Chief Executive of Plymouth College of Art​

Dom Jinks, Director of Plymouth Culture, the city’s arts and cultural development agency, said: “This award is testimony to Plymouth College of Arts’ total commitment to education, creativity, culture and social enterprise. They are involved in the key cultural developments in the city and it’s a privilege to have such a pioneer in Plymouth with a growing national and international reputation.”

Creating positive social change

The Social Enterprise Mark and Gold Mark is the only internationally available social enterprise accreditation scheme, enabling organisations to prove they are in business primarily to create benefits for people and planet, providing a guarantee of a commitment to creating positive social change.