No Boundaries 2014: Day 1: Part 2

Well here we are again with more exciting speakers to talk to you about! Day 2 is now wrapping up so I’ll be posting about that over the next couple of days, but if you didn’t catch Part 1 of this post you can find it here. Now, once more unto the breach dear friends, once more.

Ruth Mackenzie, Space 2.0 and Holland Festival

It was really interesting to hear the plan for The Space and it sounds like it will be an intriguing project, hoping to achieve 10 million interactions in 3 years. The idea behind it is to seek remarkable ideas, creating great art by great artists. However, the main point seems to be about finding a way we can all participate in art, whether we are audience or artists. Once again the idea of building communities rather than audiences had come to the fore.

Another point that Ruth introduced was to trust artists as they are the ones to show people the way forward. Take a punt and dream above all. As Ruth said,

“Being scared is a healthy thing.” – Ruth Mackenzie

Nicholas Lovell – Author

This talk in particular I found fascinating as it covered how to make money out of free, for example, out of free apps. Being an avid subscriber to youtube for the past 5 years, being a smartphone owner and having read many blogs over the years, the concept of making money out of free content has always been something that has intrigued me. Nicholas Lovell was able to break this down really easily by suggesting we all flip our thinking.

  • Find your audience
  • Use technology to figure out what they value and engage in conversation with them
  • Enable superfans

Find out what it is that people love and you’ll find a market. It’s not all about the content, but how it makes the consumer feel. Nicholas suggested that instead of expecting to be paid we need to earn the right to be paid through building relationships. As we are in a digital age our content is often shared regardless of consent, so why not embrace that, allowing freeloaders but then providing paid packages for those who are more enthusiastic, enabling superfans.

“Love freeloaders, love superfans, and love everyone inbetween” – Nicholas Lovell

This is something that can be seen all around. At the moment Tyler Oakley, a youtuber and supporter of The Trevor Project from America, embarked on a mission to raise $150,000 for the Trevor Project in about 60 days leading up to his birthday. Using a site that allowed him to offer gifts as an incentive depending on how much you donated, he managed to pass his goal in about 3 days, currently having surpassed $250,000 and all still with a couple of weeks to go. This is just one example of how to tier your products and experiences to the budgets and enthusiasm of your audience, or communities as many youtubers like to refer to their subscribers.

Alex Fleetwood, Founder of Hide & Seek

The next person I caught was Alex Fleetwood who really spelt things out from the very start.

“Making things is hard.” – Alex Fleetwood

As a young artist I do sometimes have my head in the clouds a bit about how easy I expect things to be, but I am in general very level-headed so when someone says ‘nothing happens easily’ I believe it. Alex’s experiences definitely highlight this, as does his song.

“Making things is hard,

Making things is hard,

Messy and painful and full of delights,

Making things is hard.”

Alex also spoke about the challenges of seeking funding and how we need to introduce innovation rather than relying on corporations. Having had a session on funding with OYAP Helen’s idea of us being ‘storytellers in a world of numbers’ definitely resonated with what Alex was saying. Creativity needs to infiltrate funders rather than just being the domain of the artist. The idea of encouraging new funders rather than having a few funders swamped by the volume of applications seems such a logical idea and one which should definitely be taken notice of.

Jake Orr, Artistic Director of A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre is a platform for young writers and theatre critics. Jake explained how they had created a developing critical space as a starting block for writers. He also introduced a subject that has been widely debated and argued, pay for artists, including critics. More often than not people expect not to pay for things, as was discussed in Nicholas Lovell’s talk. However Jake had a slightly different take on this.

The critic hobbiest is the person who writes as a hobby, unpaid, in their spare time. Increasingly they run out of time and therefore don’t have the time to really reflect on what they are writing about, under pressure, and therefore do a disservice to the arts if not supported by resources. Critics are so important to the art world as they share experiences and influence a wider audience, reaching those an individual artist or organisation may not be able to and leaving a legacy.

“Writing about art leaves a legacy.” – Jake Orr

Alice Greenwald, National September 11 Memorial & Museum

For this I can only recommend that you go and watch the video on the nb2014 website and leave you with these two quotes on the people who died on 9/11 and the aim of the memorial and museum.

“We recognise that they are a cross-section of humanity. Simply, they are all of us.” – Alice Greenwald

“Transforming the anonymity of mass murder into a very personal sense of loss” – Alice Greenwald

Kully Thiarai, Director & Executive Director of Cast

Finally I’ll leave you with my thoughts on Kully Thiarai who shared the tough challenge she faced in bringing a multi-million pound cultural development to the people of Doncaster, a town that supposedly was disengaged and uninterested in the arts, opposing the new venue.

Through hard work and “sheer bloody mindedness” they were able to complete the project, inspire the people of Doncaster, raising aspirations and invoking civic pride. Now the public can get involved and feel included in an open and multi-purpose venue. It’s wonderful to hear such inspirational stories and see that actually, despite how impossible things seem to begin with, anything is possible if you really go after it.

No Boundaries has turned out to be a real treasure and I’ll be posting about Day 2 over the next couple of days. In the meantime please check out their website and the wonderful speakers.


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