Wedded bliss - discovering an inspiring media hub.


It'a college. No it's not, it's a record label. Sorry, it's a TV studio. Hang on, no, it's a computer games firm.

Let's start again. Confetti is definitely a bar and meeting place. And all of the above, it seems.

Nestling in the centre of Nottingham, Confetti is quite unlike any media company I've ever encountered. And I'e encountered a few. Established in 1994, the organisation launced as a well-equipped, creative technology school for college students and school leavers. It was the vision of Craig Chettle and initially worked with The People's College of Further Education. As Craig puts it, "We wanted to create a place and an opportunity that was not available to us when we were in further education."

Taking a small range of practical training courses in Sound Production as a starting point, Confetti has now evolved to embrace courses in television production, presentation, audio design and music engineering. Working closely with Leicester's DeMontfort University and with an annual intake of over 1000 students, the staff push for incredibly high standards, using state-of-the-art kit and continually reinvesting in the business.

When I visited this week, I was genuinely taken aback. Housed in a former fabric factory (and before that, a convent), the exterior gives little clue as to the treasures within. Immediately on arrival, I was treated to a welcome coffee in the cafe bar / meeting area I mentioned above. Roomy, with streams of natural daylight and a modern/retro design, this is Aerial. It functions as a kind of members club and meeting hub for Nottingham’s creative businesses. The scattering of plush sofas and stylish tables explains its popularity. And this is just the beginning.

Following refreshment, Confetti's Darren Bourne was kind enough to take me on a whistle-stop tour of the whole facility. In minutes, I was lost amongst corridors of mixing rooms, editing suites and recording studios. We dropped in on the in-house record label (particularly impressive to me as this is the home of the desk on which Manic Street Preachers recorded 'A Design For Life'), which serves as an outlet for local bands and songwriters. A roomy TV production suite stood ready to generate broadcast quality programming and, rather surprisingly, a design workshop was busy crafting cutting-edge furniture for colleges and universities.

The East Midlands is now internationally recognised as a major hub for the computer gaming industry and Confetti has capitalised on its reputation, doing brisk business in new game development. As Darren mentioned with a proud smile, they are also providing post-production audio mixing for a number of major feature films too.

In just 17 years, Confetti has grown from a modest organisation, with a handful of staff, to one of the most forward thinking educational institutes in the UK with over sixty lecturers and support personnel. An impressive roster of well-known commercial, creative companies work alongside the educational institute, ensuring the student experience is both in-depth and authentic.

This industry involvement also forges strong links with potential employers, creating exciting and real opportunities for students, through guest lectures, studio tours, tradeshow visits and work experience with a host of industry professionals. And it's this balance of modern learning environment, skilled staff and vocational courses which allows so many students to embark on creative careers while building their social skills and confidence.

If you have read this column before, you may know I am more than capable of being a sceptical and cynical old trout, and very hard to impress. But Confetti is undeniably eye-opening and utterly inspirational. It is simply impossible not to be impressed by the achievements and continued commitment and enthusiasm which will guarantee its continued success.

What's more, I can absolutely assure you I have no vested interest in Confetti. I am just very pleased to have visited and to be in the position to give credit where it's due by recognising a uniquely creative and corporately intelligent organisation.

The fact it is in my hometown is just the cherry on a very substantial cake.

Magnus Shaw - blogger, writer & broadcaster




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