Oscar-winner David Puttnam leads search for new creatives

Oscar-winner David Puttnam at the launch of the Puttnam Scholars programme at University College Cork. Picture: Tomas Tyner

Oscar-winning producer David Puttnam is set to play a starring role in a new UCC scholarship that will help identify the next generation of creatives.

Mr Puttnam’s productions include Chariots of Fire (which won four Oscars in 1981, including the Academy Award for Best Picture), The Mission, The Killing Fields, and Midnight Express.

Now, he will share a lifetime of experiences in the creative industries as part of the new programme aimed at final year or postgraduate students from any discipline.

Six students will be chosen to become Puttnam Scholars for an academic year.

They will each receive a €1,500 bursary and will engage in a series of six 90-minute video conference mentoring and coaching sessions with Mr Puttnam, who is widely respected as a leading entrepreneur in the creative industries and who stepped down last year from his position as Ireland’s first digital champion after four years in the role.

The students will work together to jointly produce a short film to be screened as part of a presentation to Mr Puttnam and selected guests at the end of the academic year.

Mr Puttnam said the identification and encouragement of a new generation of committed creatives is an important national priority.

It’s my hope that this scheme can make a tangible difference to lives and career prospects of the UCC students selected to take part in it,” he said. “I’m enormously looking forward to sharing a lifetime of experiences — good and bad — from right across the creative industries.

UCC said the scholarship offers a unique mentoring opportunity for students and represents a new model of industry mentorship.

“The creative industries represent a vital, exciting and rapidly changing field of activity; one that is now recognised as a key growth sector in the knowledge-based economy,” said UCC president Patrick O’Shea.

At UCC, we recognise the need to embed creative entrepreneurship into our teaching and learning programmes across all disciplines. We are hugely privileged that David Puttnam has offered to create and support these unique new scholarships. The university is grateful to David for his engagement with UCC over the past five years, and we are thrilled that he has offered to extend his role within the university in this way.

This is the latest partnership between the university and Ireland’s creative sector and follows the college’s eight-year partnership with Cork Opera House announced in February.

That partnership includes internships for UCC students at the theatre, the development of an MA in Arts and Cultural Management, a theatre artist-in-residence and a jointly-funded PhD programme.

Applications for the Puttnam Scholarships is now open and the closing date is November 2.

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