Creative Collaboration - Ian Willingham

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Part of Enterprise Week 2010

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  • CreativeCapital is an Arts Council regularly funded organisation that directly supports London's emerging artists, designers and producers through its professional development, networking and advisory services. We provide:
    individuals with the artistry to develop their creative practice or career
    organisations with an essential platform to increase the reach of their services
    We’re a network of membership organisations that covers:
    Crafts
    Dance
    Design
    Film, Media & Photography
    Live Art
    Music
    Theatre & Performance
    Visual Art
    Writing
  • Our purpose is to better equip London’s creative community with the skills, support & exposure it needs to flourish – particularly for emerging practitioners or those in the early stage of their careers.
    Our service is both online and in person, offering direct support through signposting, guidance & advice, from the hundreds of resources, courses and events offered by our membership to our own in-house 1-2-1 advisory sesisons that help you identify and source your own Professional Development needs
    So in real terms, we work as an advocate, a connector & hopefully a catalyst by promoting and providing Continuous Professional Development (CPD from now on).
  • Why Continuous? We believe there are three fundamental pathways inherent to an individual’s practice or career
    These pathways, or states of being, can be simultaneous and have a reflexive relationship (I.e. a circular relationship of cause & effect), hence our use of the term ‘continuous’.
    The three states can all be supported with professional development – for example :
    The path to making better work is supported by realising your unique or market value, developing process & technique and critiques & feedback through peer reviews & feedback,
    The path to getting hired, commissioned or ‘bought’ is supported by business skills, networking & again, mastering your craft (“let’s get in that person two does the really great type…”)
    The path to gaining recognition, credibility and reputation is supported by the accumulation of experience and exposure, gained through all that going out and making, learning and networking you’ve been doing….
  • I wanted to talk briefly about collaboration and, what ECCA is about, enterprise.
    Most people have a similar perception of or reaction to the words “Enterprise” or “Entrepreneur”
    Actually, it doesn’t have to be anything like Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Alan Sugar or the wee laddy here.
    Paradoxically, “creative people” tend to shy away from being hands-on in the ‘business world’, yet with “applied creativity” they make some of the best planners, strategists and innovators out there.
    For example…
  • Two good friends and favourite Creative Industries entrepreneurs are Simon Waterfall & Nat Hunter
    Both are shining examples of people who rely heavily on creative collaboration for success with a large dose of DIY
    Simon – founder of Deepend, then Poke & now Fray. Example = the Global Rich List
    Nat – founder of Airside and now Three Trees Don’t Make A Forest
    Also, in Simon’s case, use failure of Deepend during the dot.com boom & bust of the nineties is a prime example that things don’t always succeed – but, if you keep going, you’ll get there.
    Combination of simplicity, that DIY mentality & collaboration …. which is often borne out of necessity as much as possibility
  • My best piece of advice:Find a geek.
    You need their help! From creating & sustaining networks (not just online) to helping you realise your ideas, it’s the 21st century and knowing about digital technology is no.1 on the survival skills list.
    All that interest in your work and you is now gone, you’ve got to find it again, recreate that atmosphere and support.
    Collaborate! Do things together. Share and swap skills etc etc. Get a hustler. Organise weekly group crits. ETC ETC ETC
  • In Sarajevo where I teach at the University of Arts, the possibilities for graduates far out-number the opportunities; lack of an established creative industry, limited business capacity, corruption, restriction of movement & a tight legal infrastructure
    Necessity is the main driver behind success – I spent as much time with the students in encouraging and helping them to think collaboratively and on DIY terms, making their own opportunities as on their work – particularly in collaborative groups
    With the number of creative graduates in 2009 standing at 145,000 it might be worth considering how your current network of support, peers and collaborators may be your best asset in doing things yourselves
    Certainly a lot more opportunity here compared to Bosnia, plus you’ve a world of quality support & training at your fingertips with all that other stuff like business planning, marketing, costing, through CreativeCapital & its members such as ECCA
  • Quick example of a collaboration-based CreativeCapital project, Widening The Scope
    Widen our profile, increase our understanding of the CPD needs & activity of practitioners and organisations in London & most importantly understand the barriers to access to the arts
    Brief - funding agreement - needed to be managed on a feasible scale within the budget given, timeline and our capacity as a tiny organisation PLUS meet all the targets
    First time we’d ever done this, so we decided to looked within four outer London boroughs of: Barking & Dagenham, Croydon, Haringey & Harrow
  • Early learning IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
    It’s much easier - and cheaper - to make mistakes and ifx things at the beginning than to wait until the end
    This goes for any project, whether a new public service or VMP stuff for a brand
    Within the six month time frame, at least six weeks was spent on planning, benchmarking & research. LOTS of research on diversity and access!
    Lots of (divided) opinion too between end users and organisations:
    Situation: time, money, motivation
    Exclusion: Perception that the arts are not for me or an access problem, whether getting information, or physical divides such as class & ethnicity
    Location: everything’s in town ‘cause there’s better funding and local stuff is crap
    Allowed us to create entire project vision, workplan, project cashflow, milestone evaluation structure with clear goals and markers. We boiled it down to WHAT needs DOING, WHERE can we HELP and be most USEFUL? and most importantly, how we were going to methodologically tackle the project. Tips:
    Be visual. Use post its!
    Most of all, get LOTS of ideas, people, widest range of perspectives then edit down – think about all touch points of the experience you’re examining - front of house, service users, decision makers, competitors,suppliers …and bring them all in
  • Part of NIACE was to offer training and employment opportunity – we chose the “Arts Agents” model: hands-on community engagement.
    Recruit by artform, with a focus on previous experience of “accessibility” issues.
    Wide scope but with clear message
    Getting the message right
    Getting the mix right
  • A learning experience in itself in that the response and interviews threw up lots of dialogue, opinion and experience
    Response to ad was interesting in itself regarding what it told us about employment opportunities in the sector
    100’s of applicants, across the board
    Got the message right – found the right mix - nicest people you could have found! The backbone of the project, important to have got right
  • Collaborated with our own Members in designing and delivering the right training package for the agents, which combined both practical and cerebral learning, including :
    Communication and presentation skills
    Researching communities & community engagement
    Web 2.0 & media
    Disability, diversity and equality awareness (provided by CreativeCapital network member, Shape).
    Communicating with and marketing to ‘hard to reach’ people
    Developing participatory workshops
    Themes around access inc each Agents’ own barriers, as to identify potential pitfalls and their own needs
    Brief was to research their Borough in terms of local arts programming & attendance, the barriers to access & paths to participation, with an aim to significantly improve access to learning opportunities for a range to communities currently under-represented with London’s creative sector.
    Fluid, flexible approach with organic evolution – collaborative weekly group meetings at Lbi with CCA, project evaluator & agents.
  • Amneet - Harrow journey:
    Local authority arts officers
    Voluntary sector - Harrow council’s volunteer services @ Harrow Arts Centre
    Put in touch with Usurp (fantastic DIY, artist-led free gallery space that suppports local collaboration) & Calamaty Comics
    Fanzine workshop with Alternative Press (another great bunch of people who celebrate self-publishing in a totally collaborative, DIT way)
    Became one of their organisers
  • The biggest value actually about their own experience, enriching their networks, opportunities, boosting confidence and providing invaluable professional development
    Catalystic role of agents – arts learning inventions created for 152 adults , many created their own events directly in response to needs of local people as opposed to what was on offer - or not - in their borough
    During the 6 months we ran the project, the Agents provided an informal and honest focus group which felt comfortable enough to be as critical as necessary about our own services
  • Collaboration is key – an honest, supportive approach; learning from colleagues in sector.
    Important for the Agents to feel part of a supportive team, and to be able to ‘come in from the cold’ once a week and meet everyone else, all with similar goals, successes and difficulties
    Working with different people in a new space once a week was energising
    Working with new people in a different context is useful for reflecting on one’s own strengths and weaknesses
    Getting out and about is both more enjoyable and more effective than being stuck behind a desk!
  • Good luck, we’re here. 1-2-1.
  • Creative Collaboration - Ian Willingham

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    3. 3. QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. creative- capital.org.uk continuous professional development gaining recognition accumulating experience & exposure making better work developing your creative practice getting hired, commissioned or “bought” improving your skills & networks
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    8. 8. creative- capital.org.uk QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. widening the scope
    9. 9. creative- capital.org.uk QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. widening the scope QuickTime™ and a decompre ssor are needed to see this picture. QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
    10. 10. creative- capital.org.uk QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.
    11. 11. creative- capital.org.uk Robert Amneet Awele Dominic Brigitte Kieran Cherelle Grace widening the scope
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    14. 14. creative- capital.org.uk widening the scope
    15. 15. creative- capital.org.uk “…Being an activist and being given a platform. Realising it’s important to be proactive. Talking to people and being inspired about what’s useful for them.” “…Motivated by being in a group and doing this together. The project itself created a community for us.” “…Being able to hop between organisations and people. Going back and building bonds and trust. Finding out what people want and opportunities that are rare. Using creativity in a new (applied) way opened my mind to what I’m capable of.” “…I met Jennifer from Ghana who is 22 and has no friends here. Who else do you know that age in that situation?” collaborative learning
    16. 16. info@creative-capital.org.uk 0207 375 2973 QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.

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