The first in a new series of Cultural Conversations for what some call the Tees Valley (more on that in a moment) got underway last night.
I think it’s safe to say it was a success considering the organisers had problems persuading people to leave when it was time to close the host venue – mima.
The idea for these mini unconference sessions for artists and people interested in the arts came from three similar sessions started by Emma Bearman of the Culturevulture blog as a way to connect people and provoke more online activity to support cultural practice/interest in the region.
The format means people self-select the topics or conversations they want to have – the short sessions included a proposed Monkey Festival for Hartlepool and issues such as promotion and how to co-ordinate a bigger presence .
I went along to a conversation hosted by one of the mima curators around how artists can find new funding opportunities or activities in times of reducing budgets. I took some notes from the session here. (The format means I didn’t hear from other sessions so, if you took part in one, please feel free to share what was discussed in the comments area at the bottom of this blog post).
Last night was also a chance to continue some earlier conversations Emma and I have been having with people about blogging, social media and digital storytelling to reveal the creativity and passion of the area.
We are now drawing up plans for some free bespoke digital skills workshops which we’d like to run in the autumn and would love to hear from anyone interested in coming along to those. Please feel free to email or tweet either of us (@foodiesarah @culturevultures)- or leave a comment on this blog post at the bottom of the page.
A few other topics which deserve a wider airing:
* Publicity: Promotion for exhibitions, festivals and other arts events is a reoccurring issue and I wanted to draw people’s attention to the interactive events map on The Guardian’s Northerner blog which is free and open to all.
* Online presence: The question of what this emerging network should be called and the domain name for its online presence has arisen many times. Issues include whether something with Teesside in the name speaks to Darlington people? Is Tees Valley understood by people outside of administrative organisations? A small group of people started this conversation last week and I’ve created this poll of all the ideas submitted so far – feel free to vote or pass the link onto any interested parties, it could help inform the decision at some point.Click here to take The Cultural Conversation survey
* Online noticeboards: A few people in the group last night expressed interest in having an online noticeboard to be able to share details of projects and to help co-ordinate logistics for things such as haulage and equipment. I can help people get that set up – there’s a whole heap of Howto guides and more information at the n0tice blog here. In addition, if someone’s willing to provide a venue with wi-fi, I’d be more than happy to run a free two hour workshop on setting up and running a noticeboard for projects if there’s demand (it doesn’t have to be arts based).
* Finally, a little inspiration…..We’ve talked a lot in these sessions about the power of blogging and of finding that online voice. I thought people might find it interesting to hear about some of the remarkable sites and blogs we’ve worked with at Talk About Local and if that tempts anyone to get started……there’s online guides and resources here.
See you all at the next one…..Hartlepool here we come!