(I'm really ashamed it's been so long that I've blogged. Also, I've started this so many times over and don't really know where to begin... so I'm just going to start!!)
Two weeks ago (is it really two weeks already?!!) I held an event. I'd been thinking about this event for about 18 months but in reality only really planning about it for about 8 - as in, last April I talked to a couple of people about wanting to host a creative community event, but I didn't really do anything about the organisation until earlier on this year when I just couldn't ignore myself any longer!
It was a huge success, and I'm still humbled by all of the comments that I've received. The speakers were phenomenal, the workshops so useful and educational and the overall vibe was one of real energy and colour.
To be honest, when I started planning Creatival, I wasn't sure what it was really going to look like - I only knew that I wanted it to not be just fun and community, but some actual proper learning going on. I wanted the delegates to walk out with new skills as well as being inspired and hearing stories from brilliant business owners. A few of you know that I used to run 'Creative Women' events - you may have even attended a few, where I had brilliant creative women come and talk about their business journey, these events also had learning within them as well as plenty of tea and cake, and I loved hosting these.
The reason I started Creative Women was that I knew first hand about the importance of community - when you are starting out a business, in the midst of running your business, or even when things are going really well. We work alone, in our studios, sheds or spare rooms and although we have so many amazing online communities to access, there weren't that many places where we could meet face to face. I knew this because I felt it when I was too, working on my creative business, in my shed.
I needed something, there wasn't the thing I needed, so I created the thing I needed, in the hope that other people needed it too. And they did. Creative women was brilliant for a few years, but I felt the pressure of booking a speaker, organising and promoting and marketing the events, and they didn't really make any profit, so I wanted to put on something a bit more informal. Enter: Creative Coffee Catchups...!
More of a 'pop in if you want' morning, I don't provide refreshments (you can buy your own coffee & cake) - I just let people know that it's happening and whoever wants to come can. They are really really lovely, and even though I meet up with a number of AMAZING people each month as part of these, I had the desire to give something more - something a bit more like my Creative Women but bigger. I wanted to put on something that would inspire and teach. And also I really really wanted to do it in Devon, because nothing much like that happens here! There are brilliant creative events in cities around the country but not here, not the type I wanted to put on.
It's been such a great learning process - there are things I'd do again, and things I would change - but that makes it even more exciting for next year. I made new friends and it's given me new found confidence in what I can achieve. I am starting to have more belief in my abilities and expertise.
Like all those that came, I was blown away by the stories from Leona Thrift Ola and Lucy & Chris (Lucy & Yak). I already know it - but hearing from them the power of community and the effect it's had on their personal wellbeing and their business has completely reinforced in me what it means to be part of this creative community. We really shouldn't underestimate it - we have so much fire and energy and passion and goddamn talent between us all, we really could move mountains - and I think we should!
I know it sounds cliched, and you hear it all the time, but I am so utterly passionate about being part of a strong, creative community that I just can't help myself in putting on events that will help encourage that. And there's nothing stopping you doing the same either.
One question at the end of the day to our panel asked 'I have found working alone to be really challenging and isolating. Do you have any tips for artists who work predominantly alone from home and cannot afford a regular studio space?' and all the panel answered the same. There are online & more importantly, face to face communities you can access - and it is SO important to do so, for your mental health, your creative growth and your overall skillset. If you can't find anything near you that fits what you're looking for, you can also start something up yourself. I'm so excited about the few delegates from Creatival who are already planning their own North Devon community! You're not doing anyone a favour being on your own. Come and join the rising number of us who are doing it together - and don't worry about your nerves or imposter syndrome, we all feel the same. The first step is the hardest.
My next Creative Coffee Catchup is being held on Thursday 25th October at The Glorious Art House, Exeter. Please do come and join us!
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