Archive | May 2013

Effective Networking Events

I’ve blogged before (here, here and here) about the Insights and Ideas Cafe events organised by Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland. I’m always impressed by these events. One of the things I like is the way they facilitate networking.

When you arrive at an event, you get yourself a tea or coffee (and sometimes cake) then sit at a round table with other people. Most people are very friendly and introduce themselves (Note to self: introduce self before starting to eat cake). There are generally three or four speakers at the event with time for questions and then a break in the middle when you get more tea or coffee and chat with the people round your table about the speakers so far. Then someone from each table is asked to feedback the group discussions to the whole audience.

The focussed format used by Insights and Ideas makes networking so much less daunting for people who aren’t extroverts. You’re not left feeling lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces and can get to know a small group of people, while contributing to an interesting discussion.

I’m much more comfortable with this style of networking than the kind of event where you’re shown into a mass of people standing around, and expected to go and find someone you’ve never spoken to before, otherwise you won’t get your free glass of wine.

What’s your favourite style of networking event?

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As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

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No – a film about political campaigning

I finally caught up with No Pablo Larrain’s film about the No campaign in the 1988 plebiscite on the presidency of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Some reviewers have criticised the film for not showing the messy reality of Chile at the time, but that to me is actually a strength of the film. It focusses right in on the political campaigning, giving a specific view on that era of history, giving the film a focussed narrative. It is also fascinating for anyone involved in charity or political campaigning, highlighting as it does the tension between criticising what you are campaigning against (military dictatorship, political disappearances, censorship) and offering people a glimpse of what the alternative future might be (liberty, freedom of speech and a free press). It’s interesting to watch all the creative ideas put forward by both the No and the Yes campaigns and how they react to each other during the month long campaign. The No campaign are particularly aweare that the people they need to reach are the undecided majority, accepting that some people will never vote No and that those who will definitely vote No, need little persuading.Similar to the position many charities hold, that they need to get their message out to those who don’t yet have an opinion (unlike one charity I know, who will remain nameless, who said to me that their communications was ‘only about talking to the people who already know about our work’ which is in many political or charity campaigns a misguided view to say the least.

Also interesting to see how corporate advertising executives work within a political campaign and the tensions this causes with at least some of the longer standing political campaigners.

I particularly liked the No campaign’s idea of a break in the countryside for the team to go hiking together while discussing their ideas before starting out on the campaign proper.

There’s also humour too, both in the dialogue of the film and in the No campaign itself, which ultimately demonstrates how to create a light-hearted and sometimes humourous idea that still makes a serious point and doesn’t disrespect or betray the suffering that went on under Pinochet.

It’s a great film, thought provoking and entertaining and well worth seeing if you are involved in campaigning.

No is showing at Edinburgh Filmhouse until Monday 6 May.

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Insights and Ideas – Volunteering

I’ve blogged before (here and here) about the excellent Insights and Ideas Cafe Events run by Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland. Yesterday’s meeting was on the topic of Volunteering and as ever there were several excellent speakers talking about their experiences of volunteering and volunteer management.

Jemma Neville, from Voluntary Arts Scotland (VAS) talked about the value of the voluntary arts sector and the support that VAS gives to the sector. She highlighted Voluntary Arts Week (11-19 May). This annual event celebrates voluntary arts across the UK. This year the theme is Craftbombing and arts organisations are being encouraged to decorate public spaces with crafts as a colourful celebration of public art. (Participants need to make sure that permission is sought before craftbombing any public space and crafts should be cleared away later or made into a secure exhibition to avoid littering issues). You can find out more about how to get involved on their website.

Diana Morton from Edinburgh Museums and Galleries next spoke about Museums Alive, a volunteer outreach programme that takes museum artefacts and activities into day care centres and nursing homes for reminiscence and arts activities.

Harry Giles then spoke about the ‘creative chaos’ that is  The Forest, Edinburgh’s well known volunteer run cafe and arts space, which recently moved into new premises in the Tollcross area of town. (In it’s previous venue in Bristo Place, it ran the Golden Hour cabaret night of poetry, music and cartoons, which was a highlight of Edinburgh’s alternative cultural scene).

Over tea and biscuits, there was time for discussions with the people we were sitting near. At our table, Steve from Strange Town Theatre Company compared the challenge of getting young volunteers to turn up to regular rehearsals to the seeming ‘turn up when you feel like it’ ethos of Forest volunteering. I mentioned that Water of Leith Conservation Trust patrol volunteers commit to regular volunteering (generally once a week) but as long as we meet our commitment, we can turn up when we want. We then discussed keeping in touch with young volunteers, who often seem to ignore emails and only want to communicate via Facebook.

Then it was time to hear from Paul White from Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) who talked about the support his organisation gives to the voluntary and community sector across Scotland (including excellent training courses). He shared some statistics, including the fact that 68% of all Scottish voluntary sector organisations are grassroots groups with incomes of less than £25 000 per year.

The final speaker was Violet Dalton from National Trust Scotland, who spoke about the support networks for volunteer managers in the heritage sector (Heritage Volunteer Organisers Network and Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activity).

All in all a very insightful discussion of volunteering in the cultural and heritage sectors in Scotland.

Cross posted to Crafty Green Poet

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take youi to other webpages where you can find out more.