Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

26th June (Day 4)

Today I found out how difficult it already is to buy Polaroid 600 film (I wouldn’t be so worried if I didn’t own one!) I called Jessops and the assistant was so negative I nearly packed up and set off home! “You can only get them on the internet now”, so where do I buy 10 Polaroid 600 films, for the next day and they are only available to buy online?

Trying not to be phased I continued to call around and my success came when I called Jacobs on Corporation Street, they had just taken delivery of 11 twin packs priced at £27.97. I also came across an online company called Polaroid Direct, wholesalers (min. Order of 5) who sold the twin pack for £21.98 incl. VAT and next day delivery. I spoke with Andrew and he said Jacobs was fine and I called to reserve for pick up later that day!

A little later I then went into the city centre to pick up the films along with some HMV vouchers ready for the Youth Panel event on Friday. Earlier that morning I helped to make the name badges for each of the schools attending.

I continued to research of events and Networks in the Stoke-on-Trent area; I wrote emails to the people I know actively working in the sector and drafted a branded email to send to my friends, colleagues and new contacts.

I also started to put together a calendar of events for the area so I can begin to attend. I found this is a really good way to find out what projects are going on in the area and it’s nice to touch base with old contacts. (I will post these on my events page, for anyone that is interested!)

The 26th was also the date of the Creative Republic Networking Event at Concrete, the Big Peg. Lorraine (Ambassador) called me in the afternoon letting me know she would be here at 5p.m to begin setting up for arrivals at 6.

I made my way down to Concrete at around 5.30 and I met some other members of the Board and Lorraine in person. Firstly I was introduced to John Mostyn and we chatted about Stoke, and his roots from the Staffordshire region, he said he was good friends with Steve Tilley from the Sugarmill in Hanley. He also said he knew some exciting news about a project and Steve…but he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone (why is it when someone says ‘they aren’t allowed to say’…you really want to know?) I was re-introduced to Karl Binder; he was a speaker at one of the Metapod sessions so I remembered him.

All the board members wear flowers at events for easy identification, this time they were orange gerbera’s (I think!). The event was an informal networking event, “No pack drill… No speeches… And no charge.”

On arrival you were greeted at the entrance at the bottom of the stairs by a table laid out with Charter forms for those who were not on the list, Jemima, Helga and me. Once they had confirmed or signed up to the Charter a free glass of wine awaited plus a free drinks coupon.

I met a range of really interesting people, some more briefly than others (mainly on arrival) but this was a really enjoyable experience. I met Chris Unitt the Created in Birmingham blogger; it was very nice to meet him in person since he featured my blog as a link for the 24th June – Thanks Chris!

There were a range of creatives in the building, and it was surprising that so many were from Wolverhampton showing that support has already begun to spread throughout the region. We had 26 people sign up to the Charter on the evening! It was a great turn out and an enjoyable evening for all!

Here are some images from the Creative Republic website, by Karl Binder.


20th June, Day 3, a year older, and Now

On Friday when I arrived I already had a couple of things to start with, Metapod and Creative Republic, so began with those. As Kevin was off today I was able to plug my laptop into his desk and be in the main office, Sarah and Gemma were off in the Commissioner office so it could have been a little lonely.

On Thursday evening Helga arranged a meeting between Jemima and I so we could go over what I had planned so far for the Stoke offensive, and how she wanted to progress.

At 1p.m I made my way in a taxi to the Hi8us offices in Digbeth, this was to save me from getting lost. Jemima is the Deputy Director of Hi8us Midlands and has worked at Hi8us for 7 years, and has worked on lots of other interesting projects.

We began to over what I had done so far and I asked how she would like to proceed. We came to the conclusion that pairing with an existing event or events could work well to raise the profile of Creative Republic and promote our values and charter to the sector that way.

I got back, amended my plan and set to work on contacting some of my friends in the sector to arrange meetings, researched existing networks, scheduled events and online activity to begin to
compile an action plan.

I already knew of Creative Stoke, a website that acts as a directory for creatives in Stoke-on-Trent and I sent over an enquiry to them. I emailed Danny Callaghan, supporter and participant of the Stoke-on-Trent Metapod through Culturegen along with a number of others.

It is now just a case of research, putting my ear to the ground and getting out and about in the area – I would be extremely grateful if anyone who reads this knows of any in the area could let me know…

Another part of my day was to help with a mail out for Fierce Earth.

Fierce Earth are now available for event management, since Simon joined the company he merged his company Blue Satsuma with Fierce Earth, this brings together the skills and expertise of both to create the ultimate in event management.

It hadn’t gone un-noticed by my new friends at Fierce that it was my birthday and they had very nicely put together a card and present. We ended the day with champagne; they assured me they don’t do it every week!

Since the 20th…

Helga and Jemima forwarded an email from Melodie @ Soul Monkey about launch event on the 2nd August at Burslem Park – I have spoke to Melodie and will be going to find out more next week.

I arranged a meeting with Danny Callaghan to find out what he is up to and how he can help me.
I spoke with a couple of my contacts regarding meet ups.

AirSpace Gallery will be having a preview event on 1st July which I will be going along to for Iris (see exhibitions). The image shown is the work of Choë Butler:

And I contacted the membership officer at North Staffs Chamber to find out about membership and networking events.

19th June (Day 2)

As with my first day, I set off to what will probably become known as the ‘usual routine’.

My first task for the day was to deliver the Creative Republic flyers for the Networking Event on Thursday 26th June at Concrete (the Big Peg) to all floors of the Big Peg excluding 6. (Usually I would have loved the exercise, but I had chosen Wednesday night as my “come back” to running – not a good idea!) This did however provide the ideal opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of the place, and it was quite interesting to see the range of businesses…everyone I saw on my travels were very friendly.

When I had finished Helga was in a meeting, but since we last spoke I had been thinking over the week about the opportunity to develop Creative Republic in Stoke, so I suggested I begin to plan.

A little context for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire:
‘Driving in to Staffordshire from any direction you are greeted by the signs –“You are now entering Staffordshire – The Creative County”.

What it says on the sign is not what is being perceived by the wider public. In an article by Mark Jayne, Culture that Works? Creative industries development in a working-class city”, he describes how the decline of the pottery industry and manufacturing has had great impact on the economy and morale of the city.

Following Mark Jayne’s document Stoke-on-Trent City Council produced their cultural policy document, ‘Culture that Works’ for 2003 -2008. This document identifies their aims, mission, existing assets and opportunities for development. In line with national policy they identify the link between the creative industries, regeneration and the economy.

Staffordshire is comprised of a number of districts Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme, South Staffordshire, the Borough of Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands, Tamworth and North Staffordshire.

Stoke-on-Trent then has six towns, which creates an interesting dynamic within the city, Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley (City Centre), Stoke, Fenton, Longton. Therefore, activity is not concentrated in the city centre.

Creative Republic will provide a meeting place to where all creative and cultural industries within the city and wider region can meet, discuss, create relationships and break-out of isolated activity.’ Me -19/06/08

Once I compiled my plan (a gantt chart), I began to research all existing Creative & Cultural Networks, Events and other activity in the area. I made contact with the Cultural Development Team at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and other organisations to get the ball rolling.

During the day I had sat in on a meeting with Helga and Nigel (CEO) from Audiences Central and this provided me with all the background information I needed and will need to go forward. I personally think you can understand a business and project better through knowledge of the process so far…

Another programme that Fierce Earth run is Metapod.

Metapod is training and development for those starting a creative business or those looking to move in a new direction. It has been held all over the West Midlands and I was very fortunate to be member of the first group in Stoke-on-Trent to participate.

The Metapod website is currently under construction and I will be involved with sourcing content so… watch this space.

First day nerves

Friday 13th June was the first day of my placement with Fierce Earth and Creative Republic, and apart from a small mishap with a sticker machine it went quite well.

The team were extremely welcoming and felt at home from the moment I arrived, with a cup of tea offer from Simon, the Office Manager (or as he joked…Head of Glitter).The schedule of my morning was:

7:00 – Out of Bed
8:00 – In my KA (or more affectionately know as the KAK!)
8:15 – Walk from the Car Park in Stoke
8:25 – Buy Ticket return to New Street at £14.90
8:39 – Train arrives and I have a seat
9:34 – Arrive at New Street and begin my walk to New Street
9:55 – Arrive at the Big Peg in Birmingham to start my day!

Greeted by Helga and Simon I automatically felt at ease and although I was not nervous or scared, I felt unsure of what to expect.

I was introduced to the team – those there and those not. I also had a whistle-stop tour of the offices.

Mark Ball is Owner of the Company and Creative Director
Helga Henry is Managing Director
Simon Pickthorne is Office Manager
Andrew Tims is Creative Learning Manager
Kevin Isaacs is the Executive Producer

Also on the team was Sindy, and the second office was Sub-let to Commissioner, Sarah Allen and her assistant Gemma (Another from Sunny Stoke!)

After looking through the impressive collection of press cuttings from previous Fierce! Festivals in local and national press, I began to read further about the company to familiarise myself with its structure.

In brief…

Fierce Earth and Fierce! (Festivals) Ltd were divided into two separate companies to avoid confusion in who was receiving funding.

Fierce! (Festivals) Ltd is a Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO) of Arts Council England West Midlands (ACE) for the festival they run every year in May and June. This year’s festival has just finished but you can find out more here.

The Companies Misson is to:
“present the best live art from across the world in new contexts and settings throughout the West Midlands, surprising and delighting audiences by challenging the conventional understanding of what the arts can be, do and say, and inspire regionally based artists into making innovative and ground-breaking live art.”

Fierce Earth is the production company that Fierce! use to produce their festival each year. There 3 niches are:
• Events & Festivals
• Learning & Development
• Consultancy

An example of the projects that Fierce Earth are involved with is the ArtsMark event from ACEWM

I am going to be taking part in upcoming projects within Fierce Earth but hopefully planning and executing a Creative Republic event in Stoke-on-Trent where there seems to be a thriving creative community developing.

Creative Republic does three things, as described below:
“Basically, Creative Republic comes down to three things:
• Representation and lobbying
• networking
• commissioning research”

After familiarising myself with the office, staff and company structure I took part in a meeting and walkthrough for the upcoming project. This was an even better insight to the dynamics within the company, and I really enjoyed it!