A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.
This week we chat with Ruth Newton, a creative producer at social activist group Glimpse. The collective founded in 2016 has over 3,000 members around the world, united by a mission to use their creative skills for projects with positive social or environmental impacts. And now, it encompasses its own creative agency and training shop too. You might’ve seen their Choose Love pop-up shops, where visitors could buy items for refugees; or their People’s Podium, a speaker’s lectern not unlike those stood behind by those in power, created to amplify the views of the public. Here, Ruth tells us a bit about the group’s ethos, challenges, and how people can help and join the cause.
It’s Nice That: What is your mission, and what about the creative industry are you hoping to change?
Ruth Newton: Our mission at Glimpse is to offer an image of a better world and show people that they have the power to help build it. The creative industry pours lots of energy into selling people things they don’t really need. We want to redirect this energy into creating a compassionate society that values people and nature over profit.
INT: Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to this point.
RN: I’m a creative producer at Glimpse and my background is a mixture of TV production, commercial advertising and social campaigns. In my previous roles, I loved coming up with ideas and bringing them to life, but I felt deflated if its purpose conflicted with my values. At Glimpse I get to collaborate with amazing creatives and make work that we believe is adding a positive contribution to the world.
INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing, and why?
RN: 2020 brought so many challenges to the surface, and we have lots of systems to dismantle before we can build a more equitable society. Communicating the climate emergency is at the forefront of what we do, because it’s one of the most pressing issues we face collectively. And, when you look at the impact climate change is having across the globe, it highlights the multitude of social injustices at play. Because we’re competing for people’s attention against commercial brands with bigger budgets, we need to find innovative ways to reach people. We aim to meet people where they’re at and offer hopeful stories that they’ll want to engage with.
INT: How are you tackling them?
RN: The Glimpse collective is a community of 3,000 people across the world who want to use their creative skills for good. Our approach is to create a glimpse of a better future. So instead of showing a forest destroyed by wildfires, we might imagine a world where forests replaced shopping centres. It might sound whimsical but we know that this ‘magical thinking’ can have an incredible impact. For example, four years ago Glimpse imagined a shop where you couldn’t buy anything for yourself, you could buy something for someone who really needs it. This idea became the Choose Love pop-up stores, which have now raised over £5 million for displaced people across the world.
INT: How can the creative industry help your mission?
RN: I’d love to see more industry leaders take a values-led approach to their work, and to see them actively encouraging their employees to hold them accountable. It can be really hard to speak out if you’re not in a senior position, so knowing what a company stands for can really help give people a voice. If you’re all working towards the same north star, then anyone can shout if you’re starting to drift off course. And of course, everyone is welcome to join the Glimpse collective! Help us imagine a better world and start building it with us.