They say all good things must come to an end. In the case of IdeasTap, a very good thing is coming to a very unfair end.
Since the era of austerity has been thrust upon us following the 2010 General Election, those of us in the arts have been told that we can’t rely on state subsidy – instead, we should be looking towards philanthropic giving. That was our path to a sustainable future for arts and culture. But before this had even been pushed, Peter de Haan had started IdeasTap, with the support of organisations including Old Vic New Voices, National Youth Theatre and more.
I signed up for IdeasTap from the off. This was a website stating that it was there to support young and emerging artists, and as one of those people who was still new to London and preparing for life after studying I thought it at least merited a bit of my time. I was invited to be part of a focus group in April 2009 at the home of the National Youth Theatre, to help shape what the site would look like and what we as the ‘target audience’ would be looking to get out of it. We talked at great length about what IdeasTap could be, and our ideas were listened to and, in some cases, implemented.
Roll forward into June 2009. Applications for the 24 Hour Plays open on IdeasTap. As an early adopter of the site, I know my way around and submit my application. It’s successful, and I get in as one of the producers. One of our responsibilities as producers is working the team at IdeasTap to promote the event to the network and share behind-the-scenes information. I get to know their brilliant, passionate team as we work together, and see that they care about supporting the arts as much as I do.
Fast forward a few months later and I’m working with IdeasTap. Off the back of the 24 Hour Plays, I’m producing the Old Vic New Voices US/UK Exchange – which introduces me to a whole new world of brilliant artists working in the US – and am also producing the launch event at the Old Vic for the relaunched IdeasFund. This means I get to properly work with Kevin Spacey. Keyser Soze. For real.
Over the years I do more bits and pieces for IdeasTap – I’m one of the producers on the Symposium event at the Old Vic, write stuff for the website about shows I take to Edinburgh, and going to New York with the Old Vic – and I benefit from their ongoing support, through their Spa events and the resources on their website. This year, I’m producing a show for the MolinoGroup which is going to the Edinburgh Fringe thanks to the support of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award – the final project IdeasTap deliver before they completely disappear.
Over the course of these past few years, Peter de Haan has pumped millions of pounds into IdeasTap, to support young people with creative projects. This hasn’t been based on their qualifications, their financial background or who they know – this has been based on the quality of their work and the passion they show for it. It’s been a leg-up for some people where otherwise they may not have been able to show the world what they can do. Now we’ve got to a point where Peter can’t fund IdeasTap to the level he has done, and for whatever reasons neither philanthropists nor established bodies (I’m looking at you, Arts Council England NPO) have seen fit to keep it going.
I owe a huge amount in my career to IdeasTap; without their support, I don’t think I’d have anything like the career I’ve had so far. As someone who first started off working in education and outreach, I will always be a supporter of any programme which allows young people and emerging artists to engage with the arts. I can look at the work I do now – be that producing independent work, in my role for Barbican Theatre or running Plymouth Fringe Festival – and I can see evidence of how IdeasTap has shaped my view of the world, and how I deliver that work for the better.
As IdeasTap’s time comes to an end, it makes me think of all the amazing people I met through working with them. I’ve made real friends through opportunities facilitated by IdeasTap, have worked with some amazing artists, met some famous and important people I’d have never met otherwise and worked with the brilliant team who’ve worked for IdeasTap over the years. Naming all of their brilliant staff I’ve worked with would be impossible, but I hope they know just how brilliant they have been, and how they have truly changed a lot of lives for the better.
Thank you, for everything you’ve done for me and everyone else you’ve supported; we’ll honour your legacy as best we can.