Our Creative Network is growing

Creative Network Manager Jon Pratty expands on our packed programme coming up at No.34…

There’s a lot going on in the next month at #No34, the Ideas Test space on Sittingbourne High Street, and much of it concerns creative business development, digital education classes and creative skills using new tech. Wherever you go these days, these are issues and opportunities that lots of people find interesting. You don’t have to live in a ‘digital cluster’ to start your own creative business these days. A recent visitor to No.34 told us he estimates there are at least 15 to 20 local digital businesses across Sittingbourne, and plenty more sole traders working on their own.

So, here’s what we’ve got coming up in the next month or so to support local businesses to grow. We are developing our events programme together with local experts and businesses, so keep an eye on our events calendar, Facebook page and Twitter feed for more news.

Starting out with Social Media

On Saturday 30 April we’ve got our first ‘Social Media in a Day’ event for local businesses. This workshop, led by social media expert Donna Comerford, is aimed at shops and businesses in the town and across Swale who want to get involved with Social Media but haven’t taken the plunge yet. As a participant, you’ll end the day with an active social media profile, posted your first comments, and hopefully even have one or two followers!

These days, no-one would start a business without thinking about social media as one of the first ways to meet and greet potential customers. It’s all about understanding what people want, giving it to them, then listening to their comments in a graceful and constructive way. We used to have once chance to win over buyers for our products or services, when we handed them the finished job, or widget, or event ticket. Now you can continue the discussion with customers and potential customers before and after your contact with them. Book your ticket for Social Media in a Day.

Code Club Meet-Up

Everywhere you go with young people these days they’re joined at the hip or the hand with some kind of digital device. But what are they actually doing? Feedback from the brilliant (Ideas Test-supported) Think Nation youth ideas event last year told us that kids feel most creative out of school, making things using their own cameras, phones and ideas. That leaves a big gap between them and what they are required to do at school in the new Computing Science GCSE curriculum.

Code Clubs are an amazing national volunteer-run organisation who run clubs all over the UK, bridging the gap between creative fun at home with mobiles, and good quality out-of-school learning that helps young people achieve more when they’re back in the classroom. Code Clubs are run by volunteer teachers, digital experts and parents. Across Swale there are very few Code Clubs and at No.34, we are interested to see if we can set up a regular ‘open’ Code Club, allowing young people and parents from all over Sittingbourne and Swale to access coding, programming and making skills.

Dan Powell, Code Clubs co-ordinator for the South East, is hosting the first meet-up at No.34 on 3 May, 6pm – 7pm. Come along and see if there’s something you can learn, or if you’ve got skills you’d like to pass on. We’re particularly keen to talk to teachers and potential digital mentors.

Spinach – because it’s good for you

Ideas Test has been running Spinach meet-up, a free nattering event for artists and all kinds of digital creatives, for some time at Sun Pier House in Chatham. Now we have our own space at No.34 we’d like to re-launch Spinach here. Like most meet-ups, Spinach works best when people bring their own ideas to chat about. To get things moving, we’d like to know what creative subjects you’d like to talk about, and who else you’d like to hear talking. The next Spinach is 10 May, 11am-1pm at No.34. We’ll publish details of any themes or speakers we might bring in, closer to the date.

Confidence to Create – a short free workshop exploring ways to go from in-action to action

Local creative producer Gordon Lamont, a former BBC journalist, is running a free two hour practical workshop, Confidence to Create on 19 May, helping creative people build confidence to get those words written, those pictures started, that exhibition open, that song recorded. Gordon run this well-established workshop format often and this is a rare chance to access his experience for free. Confidence to Create isn’t about being led, this participatory event will help you work out your own methods to build confidence and become more productive as a creative. Gordon has follow-on events and mentoring opportunities if you’d like to continue to build on your learning.

Podcasting the past – using the tech of the present to explore forgotten histories

Ideas Test is pleased to present a podcasting workshop with a difference led by former BBC broadcast journalist, Gordon Lamont on 24 May. In this hands-on Local History-themed event you’ll work in pairs to learn all about the basic techniques of recording sound using digital recorders, which will be provided. During the day Gordon will lead groups around the high street to find out about key places, buildings and fascinating stories. You’ll be recording real people and their reminiscences, then editing the results with Gordon into a podcast that will be broadcast live shortly after the event. If you work in a local museum, library or archive then this is the event for you, but all are welcome! Tickets are £25, booking opens soon.