Archive for the Uncategorized Category

A tribute to IdeasTap

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2015 by danbaker83

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.

The beginning of a beautiful relationship…

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.

Peter de Haan

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.

Festivals – vital champions new work

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2014 by danbaker83

Festivals can be a vital platform for emerging artists to present their work; from the wider audiences festivals can bring to the diverse pool of companies and artists they attract, those involved can benefit hugely far beyond the simple economic factors we often measure things by.

With A Young Theatre’s Incoming Festival opening at the New Diorama Theatre in London today, the companies involved will have a fantastic opportunity to showcase their work in a venue with a developing reputation – and with a number of companies involved not based in London, they also have the opportunity to reach an audience in the capital under much less financial pressure than they typically might face. Furthermore, with the shows forming part of a full festival programme the appeal to audiences is much greater than it might be for an independent run – audiences may be shared between shows, and with A Younger Theatre and the New Diorama advocating for the work there is already a seal of approval that the work is of a high standard. Add to that the highly professional print and marketing for the festival, and you’re looking at a huge opportunity for those companies and artists involved. Continue reading

On realising the importance of maintaining friendships

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2013 by danbaker83

I recently received sad news regarding the passing of an actor I’ve worked with a couple of times in the past; the thought of someone so young, talented and positive no longer being with us is awful to contemplate, and has also made me realise just how easy it can be to grow apart from people in an industry where there is often a distinct lack of security and continuity. Continue reading

Re. Michael Simkins’ Guardian blog

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2013 by danbaker83

*Updated – I’ve read over this again and have made a couple of additions where I’ve thought about things a bit more, or where I thought perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I wanted to be.  I’ve italicised the amendments, in case you want to follow my train of thought as it has developed*

Firstly, I’d like to state that I might a) change this or b) delete it completely at some point.  This is a pretty immediate reaction to a blog and, subsequently, there are certain parts of this I feel uncomfortable about writing for personal reasons, but I’ll post it now because I think it’s relevant and important at the present time.

The Guardian blog by Michael Simkins about the relationship between depression and acting – following on from Paul Bhattacharjee and Corey Monteith’s death – has irritated me a little.  I write this somewhat reluctantly due to the nature of what’s being discussed – and want to keep it brief – but feel it’s worth putting this out there due to the circumstances.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Riots?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2011 by danbaker83

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand this past week, you’ll know that Britain is in the midst of serious civil unrest – after the first clashes in Tottenham following the death of Mark Duggan, we’ve seen rioting and looting spread across the capital and now in cities across the land.  Whilst judgements, accusations and recriminations fly about like a brick through a shop window, we’ve seen communities come together to take action and ‘reclaim the streets’ – from the stories of Turkish shop owners protecting their property in Dalston to the mass clean-up in Clapham, we’re seeing the kind of action which David Cameron could only dream of his Big Society replicating.  So, what can the arts do to help in such situations?

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