Lives in: London, UK
Jack is the founder and director of the ‘Tinderbox Collective’, a Scottish charity based in Edinburgh. The organisation works with hundreds of children and young people each year through a range of creative workshops, music hubs, alternative orchestras & apprenticeship schemes. Jack has taken the organisation from an idea to an award-winning arts organisation and social enterprise, developing a number of lasting initiatives that bring people together, support young people to build their confidence, skills and creativity, and help them achieve in ways they may never have thought possible.
In 2012/13, Jack took part in a fellowship programmed called International Creative Entrepreneurs and spent several months working with community activists and social enterprises in China, primarily with families and communities on the outskirts of Beijing with an organisation called Hua Dan. Following this, he set up a number of international exchanges and cross-cultural productions that formed the basis for Tinderbox’s ‘Journey of a Thousand Wings’ programme, a project bringing together artists and community projects from different countries.
Jack is also a co-director and founding member of Hidden Door, a volunteer-run, multi-arts festival, and has won a number of awards for his work across creative and social enterprise sectors. He has been invited to take part in several steering committees and advisory roles, including for Creative Scotland’s new cross-cutting theme on Creative Learning and Artworks Scotland’s peer-networks for artists working in participatory settings. Previously, Jack worked as a researcher in psychology and ageing, for the multidisciplinary MRC Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, specialising in areas of neuropsychology and memory. He has completed a master’s by research in Psychology, and an undergraduate MA in Philosophy and Psychology.
In 2010 I started a creative and collaborative youth project, called the ‘Tinderbox Collective’, bringing together children and young people of all ages and walks of life with local bands, musicians, artists and community activists. It grew into a charity and social enterprise, and a seven-year journey trying to build a genuinely all-inclusive, diverse and ambitious creative environment for young people. I am interested in areas of inequality, education and the arts, and the powerful creative and learning process of bringing different people, experiences and ideas together to create something new.
It is hard to find stimulating and creative environments in which we can have ideas, make significant contributions and help build something exciting, worthwhile and successful. Yet these are some of the most powerful learning and development opportunities we can find. Where these environments exist, they are often reserved for the most privileged, educated and ambitious in society, and even here systemic inequalities and injustices are all too common. Rarely are these opportunities truly accessible to everyone. The arts is a unique environment where this should be possible, and this has been the main focus of my work these past years.
My work with the 'Tinderbox Collective' has been something of a living experiment, trying to figure out if and how creativity and the arts can mitigate certain areas of inequality. Many people we work with live in areas of poverty and struggle with issues around homelessness, disability, low self-esteem and other challenging life circumstances, and the work has been an ongoing journey in trying to overcome some of the many barriers people face both in taking part in these type of activities, as well as progressing beyond first level engagement to more advanced learning opportunities and paid employment. It has been a process of figuring things out along the way, encountering various challenges, adapting and trying new approaches to overcome them. This has been a bottom-up and creative approach, and I am now interested to look wider and think about more structural, analytical and top-down issues and solutions that might help to improve some of these problems.
Through the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity and the MSc Inequalities and Social Science, I hope to gain a wider picture of inequality and a deeper understanding of the various issues, practices and influences involved. In particular, I want to acquire a better sense of the political and economic forces surrounding inequality, and learn from people working and involved in other areas of the field. I hope to use this knowledge to build a more analytical framework for the work I have done with Tinderbox, and to combine this with my practical knowledge to help me progress my work and interest in this area.