I have realised (I know that many have already realised this) that London is an entirely different country to the rest of England. It has it’s own culture, own style of infrastructure and its own economy. Why has this suddenly dawned on me? I think I knew it already but I really knew it from attending the Remix Conference 2014 subtitled ‘From Ideas to Reality’ on 16th July.
This is the third time the conference has been run but I’ve not come across it before – I was intrigued by the publicity and the idea of being at an event that was about creativity in its widest sense with a mixture of cultural, technical and commercial sector people all in a room together. Names like Google, Bloomberg and The Guardian as some name drops.
The day was jam packed from 9am to 6pm with speakers from recently successful start-up businesses, investors and supporters of new ideas and new talent, to those who are running successful small and big companies.
The big theme of the day was about how do you get from the ideas to reality – thinking about the practicalities in finances as well as finding the right support and partners. There was a lot of advice about just going for it, allowing mistakes to happen and learning from it. Including some interesting shared comments about how you can’t really be trying hard enough if you haven’t made mistakes and experienced some failures and problems that needed overcoming.
It was an interesting day that has helped fire some ideas in me and made me think about what I can do next myself. But the overwhelming feeling I had is how much more I could do if I lived in London. Which I know is not a unique thought for an artist/creative not living in London. Except I’ve never desired that at all before this day. So what do they have that has suddenly made me have this thought? It’s because I’ve heard about how physical spaces have been created for people from different sectors to rub shoulders and make connections – how google are helping to create environments where investors, or people who can help realise ideas are put with people who have an idea to grow. The conference was held in a building on a floor dedicated to developing creativity – with rooms called sandboxes and an open plan shared working area, as well as a large space that can be used for conferences and events that bring people together. A place where artists rub shoulders with tech developers and retail developers. (see the photo above)
It’s not a world I really want to live in all the time but why are these spaces not in every town and city? Bristol has something similar, and there are plans for a media hub in Birmingham. How much more could be happening if we could create more spaces and developed our culture to be about diverse business communities working in partnership? I want centres with sandboxes and hang out spaces, and people whose job it is to introduce you to others you would never normally meet to make things happen. “Hi this is so and so and (s)he’s been waiting for someone like you to put some money behind an idea” or “here’s thingybob and their tech knowledge is exactly what you need”. This should not be something that only happens in London. I don’t want to visit this alien ‘country’ and be a jealous tourist I want it where I live and work – then maybe the rest of England could have a culture, infrastructure and economy that matches the boom of London!
Thankfully though, just when I thought I’d reached so much admiration for London that it meant despair for the rest of us, a panel of ‘artists’ came on to speak from another point of view. Rytis Vitkauskas, Co-founder and CEO of YPlan made me think, “Wow! We should have that app which encourages people to be spontaneous and try new cultural activity” – I really love what he’s done. Then Jay Miller founder of The Yard gave a rousing presentation about building a theatre with a bar from scratch, to fill the gap in the arts and our souls, of meaningful theatrical experiences that is about the work and the interaction not the box office. Followed by Erdem Dibaz the founder of Nerdworking – which is just a brilliant concept of technical and artistic nerds networked together to do things of great imagination. With the panel completed by Gavin Strange the founder of JamFactory and Senior Designer at Aardman Animations giving the most authentic and side splitting story of his life and how he’s got to where he has with his art.
These four people told stories of how they just got on with it. No trendy spaces and introductions but the balls and conviction to just make it happen. To make it happen as they have, being driven by their own creativity, sense of purpose and a need to achieve something that seems unachievable.
I still would like to see sandboxes, other shared spaces and brokers helping to create the environment to create and develop experiences and things but most importantly, I want to see people make opportunities for themselves driven by creative purpose and contributing to ideas and experiences that can help shape the future.
I love it when ideas are turned into reality. Especially the ones that you have to work hard for.
Claire Marshall, changing cultures