Kearn studied Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University London as part of our 2017/18 cohort.
Kearn now works at the Carnival Institute of Trindad and Tobago as a Research Assistant.
For his dissertation, Kearn explored 'Your carnival soca bible: Brand experience and brand export in the Trinidad carnival: The case of soca brainwash' which has been featured as part of our Graduate Papers. The Institute for Media and Creative Industries Graduate Papers publishes some the outstanding research undertaken by student researchers in the Institute - take a look!
Why did you choose Loughborough University London and your programme in particular?
I pursued my undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies in Journalism with a minor in Cultural Studies. During this time, my lecturers for my minor constantly stressed on the term "creative industries" and stronger moves the Caribbean had been making to really solidify our existing creative sector. With the interest I had for this, coupled with my existing love for our carnivals and festivals, and thought it best to pursue a graduate degree and career in creative industries.
With a background in journalism, I felt it would be good to continue to expose myself to studies around media, so while searching for programmes I literally typed in phrases such as "media/journalism and creative industries masters". I had previously found another programme some months prior but on one random day, Loughborough University appeared in the search announcing a new campus that was to be open in London later that year in 2015.
What made me immediately stick with Loughborough was the name, as my dad was actually completing his masters degree in Health and Safety Management with the university so I knew of its reputation. I was completely sold at the fact that this new campus was located in London, the heartbeat of Europe's creative sector. Another major factor was that it was a graduate study-only campus. I felt that I had a very rich undergraduate experience with the typical university aesthetic of a large campus with huge green lawns and vibrant activities, but that the smaller more intimate and mature setting from the London campus would do me well for postgraduate study. I applied in 2015, literally got accepted in a few days, and ended up deferring twice before finally starting in 2017.
How has Loughborough University London inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?
I definitely believe that my time at Loughborough University London made me a lot more confident in my study and career discipline and more academically sound when it comes to research and practice. I've had to think outside of the box particularly because my field is in carnivals/festivals which in itself is a multi-dimensional area. Learning and researching on different areas such as marketing and event managements and even looking at other carnivals outside of the Trinidad-style carnival in the Caribbean and its diaspora such as in places like Nigeria, Cyprus and Germany was eye opening.
It allowed me to see how to take theories and issues often only discussed from an academic standpoint, and apply them to a more realistic business approach to the carnival industry.
Tell us about your most memorable experience on your course
One thing I am grateful for the most during my course is the tremendous support I received for focusing my research in this said carnival discipline. While I would say there was a greater emphasis often placed on the media related matters compared to the wider sub-sectors of the creative industries such as fashion, film, literary and performing arts etc, each lecturer gave me the option to create my own question for my essays which allowed me to explore my research interest, instead of one of the preset questions. I am so thankful for this. It tremendously challenged me each time to take the content I was learning in modules and ask the questions, "How do these topics relate or are reflected in the carnival industry? What practical examples exist within the carnival industry that would allow for thorough research?" It is this which I believe truly allowed me to grow.
My dear dissertation supervisor, Professor Murdock, while teaching me a module in Term 1 said, "I believe if you research an area you are passionate about, it would make you put your best effort", and rightly so it did for each essay submitted. He would also prove to be an awesome supervisor who I am still in touch with today and has continuously encouraged me.
I must also make special mention of then Librarian Angela Applegate who would always go out of her way and accurately advise me on the resource materials available at the university for my research discipline. There was one time she said to me "Do let me know if there is any book that you believe would be absolutely beneficial to you that the university does not have, and I'll ensure we get a copy just for you." I was so moved by this gesture.
A quick shoutout as well to Adam Adesina who was involved with the Loughborough Careers and Employability team who connected me with members of the Hackney Borough Council responsible for Hackney Carnival where I volunteered for the Hackney Kids' Carnival 2018.
Tell us about your career journey so far and the company/organisation you are currently working for.
The Carnival Institute of Trinidad and Tobago falls under the purview of the government agency responsible for carnival in my country. We're an educational research institute with a mandate to preserve, archive, document, educate and disseminate information on everything carnival. A major portion of the work is media related such as producing films, documentary video features, filming events, conducting on camera interviews as well as social media content management. With my prior work experience in broadcasting I'm involved in both the research and media production. It truly reflects my degree of MA Media and Creative Industries.
In addition to this, I also work with some micro carnival business entities. I'm the Director of Operations at Karnival by Kandi, a carnival concierge service which offers packages to experience carnivals in different countries e.g. Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Miami. I've been working with them for the past 4 years and I've held this position for the last 2 years, even while completing my master's degree at Loughborough University London!
I have also been able to work alongside a web based YouTube series entitled The Business of Carnival™ for over a year, assisting them with the research for content planning, digital campaigns and episode production. Currently I'm beginning to make moves of establishing my own consultancy to support micro entrepreneurs in the Caribbean creative industries, as well as honour my own creative spirit and produce more written commentary, videos and a podcast series on my website: www.kearnchristopher.com
What do you love the most about your current job?
I love that I work in a creative environment and not one that is very corporate and allows us free reign to generate ideas on carnival and culture with research, development and production. It's also a really relaxed environment. Additionally, my role at the Carnival Institute has given me an opportunity to encourage archiving of the modern and highly innovative aspects of the Trinidad Carnival, and give current industry leaders a voice to be heard and bridge a gap between them and some of its longstanding practitioners.
At Karnival by Kandi, it can be quite a daunting task planning trips for hundreds of carnival revellers each year with every country/city carnival taking place months apart each other. Each carnival takes us 5-9 months in advance for preparation, so there hardly ever is any downtime. What brings me the most joy is simply being able to make this process so smooth for our customers, as we take the stress away from them to be able to enjoy my culture fully.
With The Business of Carnival ™, it's been a pleasure to be part of team that educates the public on the legal and business aspect of the carnival industry; sectors which are essential to continuously putting our carnival product at a competitive global advantage.
Is there anything you consider to be of interest about your company, career or your time at Loughborough University London, that has not been covered in the previous sections?
It would be absolutely remiss of me to speak about my time at Loughborough University London and not mention the group of awesome friends, truly my #Lborofamily that I have made during this time. I've met people from all around the globe that I've stayed in touch with from my masters programme as we supported each other through every essay and dissertation.
Outside of my course, the folks that I was usually around more often than not have become a lifeline. About 15 of us have stayed in contact via a whatsapp group we created while at university, occasionally getting together via video conferencing as we are all around the globe. A few of us were able to have a small reunion in New York City a couple months after graduation. They've brought me immense joy from the days of unplanned activities, to the literal tears that were shed on graduation night saying goodbye to the end of the road and being uncertain when we would all be in the same space again.
In recent times with the global impact of the Black Lives Matter in 2020 I was able to garner their support and assemble us together to produce a video and add our voices to the cause as people of colour belonging to Black and Asian ethnicities. Though our time at Loughborough University London was filled with moments of enjoying young adult student life, we've had many healthy discussions and debates amongst ourselves on social issues such as race and politics. We learnt from each others' cultural backgrounds and I knew that I could have depended on their intellect for a worthy cause.