New BBC centre opens to 'inspire and stimulate'

The BBC has opened a centre to promote creativity and help journalists working in the Nations and Regions division share knowledge, writes Wale Azeez.

The Sharing Opportunities across Nations & Regions (SON&R) Centre is based at the BBC's office at Whiteladies Road in Bristol. According to the corporation, the SON&R Centre is designed to "inspire and stimulate" BBC staff in Nations and Regions, the largest division in the corporation, with 3,000 journalists.

Gerald Hine-Haycock, a former BBC news reporter and director of the regional news training scheme, has been appointed to run the centre, heading a group of senior programme makers and editors.

It aims to provide a creative environment and point of contact for groups of people doing the same job in different parts of the BBC regional empire but who may not have met. Participating journalists will be able to discuss new ideas they can apply to television and radio output.

Around 800 staff are expected to use the centre in its first year, attending masterclasses featuring speakers from inside and outside the BBC, discussions on strategy, and sessions on creative thinking, as well as ad hoc briefings and discussions.

Pat Loughrey, BBC director of Nations & Regions, said the centre would help to address the problem of cross-fertilising ideas.

"Our strength is the intimate contact we have with our audiences, but it's hard to share experiences, skills and knowledge because we're so scattered. The centre will help to address that problem."

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