Links Roundup, 23rd July 2013

Links Roundup, 23rd July 2013

Here’s a roundup of things that have caught my eye of the past few weeks:

Things to read

Benefits of Green Spaces in London

The great folk at BOP have published a report for the City of London Corporation looking at environmental, health, social and economic benefits Londoners enjoy from the city’s parks and gardens.

Creative education: is now the time for realism or optimism?

An article by Simon Ofield-Kerr in the Guardian which in context of the current world, makes a rallying cry that “more than ever, we need creative optimists and risk-takers”, and that the Creative and Cultural sector is a fruitful place to find these folks!

How to have ideas at your desk!

Feeling brave! Follow some of the tips in this article and see how it unlocks your creativity! Whether a refresher or an eye-opener, James Allen‘s most useful article has hastened me to consider how I find my ideas.


Crafty Skills workshops: if you’re in Birmingham and the surrounding area, take advantage of these small business workshops covering a raft of business areas. The more you sign up to, the more offers you receive.

Blogging Bootcamp – run by Dave Briggs, boss man and colleague at Kind of Digital, this six lesson course promises a full-on introduction to blogging, crammed full of useful tips, anecdotes and tools. Great for those who are fairly confident using a computer but looking to get going on what blogging is about. All for £100 + VAT.

Useful Digital Stuff yes, what the world needs is another online curation tool, but this one has been built with the visual artist, photographer and designer maker in mind. allows fine artists to document, organize, and show their works online. Curation tools: easy upload, organise artworks, keep CVs up to date.

Streak – for gmail users amongst you, here’s an uber effective and simple CRM system that operates within your inbox. Very cool stuff.

Remove Image Backgrounds – Clipping Magic allows you to easily remove the background from your photos to create masks, cutouts, or clipping paths, all done instantly online.

Brand Yourself – this looks really useful. Not tried it fully yet, but Brand Yourself promises to enable “you to control what people find when they Google your name.” Something which gets your personal brand up those and the mystifying world of Google Algorithms sounds like a good thing …. eh!

Invoice-o-matic: This useful tool comes courtesy of the folk at FreeAgent and a few of my customers have already felt the full force of this one. If your invoicing and payment needs are straightforward enough, this link allows to create quick and simple invoices, send them to your customer and get a PDF for both parties. Cleverly it also prompts you to chase if you’re coming up to that 30 day non-payment threshold.

Get free images with Pixabay: if browsing through Flickr or the equivalent is proving difficult for the images you require, be sure also to pay pixabay a visit. Useful for a quick image or two for your blog or your new product pages on your website.

Makey Makey – an essential tool for innovators

Makey Makey – an essential tool for innovators

During the recent Birmingham Made Me Design Expo at Millennium Point, I attended a session where we made things using the Makey Makey as part of BMM’s DO Programme.

I love this piece of kit.

It is an invention kit that turns everyday objects into input devices. I think that’s its charm. Its connection to everyday objects not only makes the innovation process simple, it enables you to think in the most creative and imaginative ways.

MaKey MaKey – An Invention Kit for Everyone from jay silver on Vimeo.

How it works is really simple! Using an alligator clip, connect two objects, for example a pen and paper to the Space area on your MaKey MaKey. When the pen touches the paper, you are making a connection, completing the circuit and this sends your computer a signal that the space bar has been pressed. Because your computer thinks its a genuine keyboard press, you can use it with any program.

Basically, whether you an artist, educator, hacker, designer, inventor or just a big kid at heart, this piece of kit is designed for everyone.

The Makey Makey should be made an essential piece of kit for anyone considering the options for new ideas and fun.

As for the event we attended, in our session, we were given 6 main ideas to work on and make things accordingly:


Our group made a pet training device to train dogs in pooping in the right place i.e. outdoors.


If you have a puppy, I’m sure you’ll relate to this.

Links Round Up, 16th June 2013

Here’s a roundup of things that have caught my eye of the past few weeks:

So, the figure is 8%
A week after Stan’s Cafe’s most concerning blog about the projected consequences of 5, 10 or 15% cuts to ACE funding, the Department of Culture has agreed to an 8% budget cut. What does this mean? Well as Stan’s Cafe’s blog indicates, just a 5% cut could result in one third of English subsidised arts companies losing all of their national public funding, even if lottery money may help 200 or so organisations that can no longer be given revenue funding. Whilst it could have been worse, the consequences of 8% alone are likely to be marked!

The future of the library
The Arts Council have brought out a report looking at the Future of our libraries. Envisioning the Future of Libraries looks at where the services might go. With mixed reviews by professionals (see here), there are obvious questions over allocations of costs, resources especially ACE seems to allude to the future cuts that are going to take place, but crucially how libraries need to step up and work out how they are going to best serve the needs of their community.

The future of literacy is to code
According to NESTA, digital learning is the fourth literacy behind english, maths and science and ahead of the arts. Interestingly 67% of British Children aged 8-15 want to learn to code, but still only 3% know how to!

…. And the youth of the UK are pretty confident in their Digital Literacy, stating that they are more “tech savvy” than their global peers according to this survey from Telefonica. The research found that 49 percent in the UK believed they had an “excellent knowledge of technology” compared to just 30 percent worldwide.

Culture Net
Culture Net has been set up as the primary source of information on arts and cultural provision for children and young people in the West Midlands. Full of very useful information, Culture Net profiles the major providers of cultural services for 0 to 19 year olds in schools and other settings.

Some Tech stuff

Google Street View Hyperlapse
This is brill, an experiment for creating interactive Google Street View hyper-lapse animations. Learn more about this project here.

3D Printing Courses
To show the progress of 3D Printing, this course at the brilliant Betahaus in Berlin, shows where I think we are going. The hands-on 3D printing course is for all levels, novices up to designers. No experience is required! Just bring your laptop, a 3-butto mouse and the rest is taught

… and if proof, if any was needed, of where we are going, we will soon be producing custom 3D-printed sugar for “mega cool cakes” (as it is described!).

Dumb Store
Still a significant number of us do not use smartphones, or dumb phones as they’re charmingly described. The Dumb Store caters for this … in their own words: “The Dumb Store is a demonstration of what can be done using dumb phones.” I think it also points more fundamentally to the fact that still a significant number of people do not use smart phones.

Why Are There So Many Productivity Apps and How Do I Pick One?
This is the question posed by Thorin Klosowski in this entertaining read. I’m an app geek and always trying loads of them because I enjoy it. Occasionally I might switch but also it is because I want my clients to make informed choices, but I always go back to the same few that work best for me. As Thorin says, “it’s not about the app you use, it’s how you use it. Find one that works and stick with it.”

Tictail – the new free online shop (up to a point!)
If you don’t want to make a complicated shop to sell your products, Tictail provides you the tools you need to create a shop in minutes, the basics of which are FREE. Tictail has some premium options like discounts, password protection or a custom web address, but this is a pretty cool free platform to watch out for.

A Colourful Crowd: Spin day, Spot Day (Saturday 29th June 2013)

A Colourful Crowd: Spin day, Spot Day (Saturday 29th June 2013)

A Colourful Crowd invites you to get positively dotty at their latest one-day extravaganza, Spin day, Spot day!

Inspired by Hirst’s spin and spot paintings, #thecrowd have chosen a host of fun, action-packed and slightly bonkers activities to get all your senses in a spin!

- Make and check out some Spin Day fashions
- Throw paint around and fill in the dots as part of our public art ‘mess’
- Twist your body and ‘dig’ some happening moves
- Play in #thecrowd’s very own ‘Room of Madness’
- Eat spot toast until you ‘pop’!

Come twist summer style with #TheCrowd on 29 June!

Download the event flyer here

Follow on twitter: @acolourfulcrowd
Like on facebook /acolourfulcrowd
Hashtags: #spinspotday, #thecrowd, #walsall

Links Round Up, 18th May 2013

Here’s a roundup of things that have caught my eye of the past few weeks:

#musesocialWhat’s the point of social media for museums? Held on April 23, 2013, this is the roundup of a museum technology community chat in the States to discuss connecting their social media efforts to broader strategies and goals. The chat was hosted by @danamuses@sluggernova with help from @erinblasco. Some great insights and anecdotes on social media usage for cultural instutitions.

Not unrelated to this, here’s some stats on digital engagement with museums this side of the pond, and check out Ideas for Museums, a project about the history of museum computerization, collecting interviews with museum professionals who were/are working on implementing digital technologies in everyday museum practice.

European arts funding: why don’t more UK cultural organisations apply? Yvette Vaughan Jones, Chief executive of @VisitingArts makes some really pertinent points on why we don’t go for more applications and challenges some of the preconceptions versus the reality of going for EU funding (partnering, R&D, applications, bureaucracy). Given the political chat regarding the future of EU membership over the past few weeks, I think this piece is a stark reminder of the important role that EU funding has played in the UK’s creative economy.

artsmart. Held in London from Monday 17th June until Friday 5th July 2013, this three week long summer festival of events and activities for students and graduates from UAL looks cool and has some good speakers. It invites you “to get smart and make it happen in the creative industries.”  Follow on twitter.

Birmingham Made Me: held in June, run by Idea Birmingham, Birmingham’s two-week design expo is crammed full of content – names, brands, ideas and hot stuff that’s worth going to see – go explore!

Grants for the Arts changes: the Arts Council are making changes to the G4A programme. This is the roundup!

Trade in creative products reached new peak in 2011. The UNCTAD Global Database on the Creative Economy demonstrates the growth in creative goods and services between 2002-2011, this is despite a dip in 2008 as a result global economic downturn in 2008. Now it appears that the global creative economy is on the rise again year on year.

And as a bit of humour and maybe a few home truths …. 

ArtspeakFilling the space between fact and fiction (!), this amusing piece in the Guardian rounds up some of the bizarre examples of art lingo … what to say and what to say. Some home truths for many of us working in the arts :).

If you like artspeak, be sure to check out artybollocks and 500 letters!




Gallerycamp 2013

Gallerycamp 2013

Head to The New Art Gallery Walsall on Monday 9th September 2013 for the first Gallerycamp #gallerycamp13.

Gallerycamp is the free ‘unconference’ for people interested in how galleries (and arts + cultural organisations more broadly) understand more about digital stuff and its increasing role in what they do.

It has never been more important for galleries to make the most of digital as a tool of communication, creative exploration and engagement etc. 

More info and to book:

Messages/queries/ideas to #gallerycamp13

Getting crafty over the DCMS definition!

It has been a very busy time for bloggers, commentators and experts across the Creative Industries over the past few weeks. In fact, it has been a fascinating time to see some of the industry’s most considered voices fly the flag for what the Creative Industries actually ‘are’!

No sooner had ‘that’ speech from Maria Miller leaked that it provoked a lot of passionate and insightful follow up (handily rounded up by BOP here) that the DCMS definition of the Creative Industries is open to change. 

…. And the definition may no longer include Crafts!

The DCMS started a consultation paper, unexcitingly (but still importantly) called Classifying and Measuring the Creative Industries.

The paper states: “We recognise that high-end craft occupations contain a creative element, but the view is that in the main, these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process,” says the paper.

Arts and antiques will also be dropped from the list of recognised creative industries, while other categories will be merged into “broad creative industry groups”.

The report also goes onto acknowledge the increasingly important role of IT, software and digital software.

Before I go on, it has been announced as a consultation! So, in the spirit of a consultation, the decisions are not yet set in stone! So it means we can have our say … allegedly!

The government is entitled to reflect the developing nature of what the creative industries encompass. For those reasons, I’m not about to the belittle the integration and important role of digital into the definition, that is providing that we are also strictly adhering to the CI definition being about ownership of the IP (etc, etc,).

Yet I think the proposed removal of crafts raises quite fundamental questions about the definition, what it is to be a creative and the nature of IP in all of this? However you describe people working in crafts, whether designer makers and craftspeople, they are creative. I, like many of them, take real issue with the ‘manufacturing’ tag, which simply does not apply to so many makers out there who don’t manufacture or mass produce goods!

In light of Maria Miller’s speech, it is quite easy to arrive at a conclusion that the Crafts definition is not being removed from the CI definition, for anything other than re-aligning of the definition to justify the Creative Industries in terms of GVA and other financial measurements!

Indeed, the redefinition is focussed upon measuring the contribution to the economy of creative industries (e.g. employment, occupations, skills and of course GVA). Which ones do you think apply to the proposed removal of crafts?

The Creative Industries has always been a broad church! Some sub-sectors are more successful than others, and indeed within the crafts, this is very much the case!

Admittedly, many thousands of craftspeople turn over very small amounts of income making data collection difficult (see the Craft Council’s Craft in an Age of Change report). At the same time, I have worked alongside and with a number of phenomenal craftsmakers and designer makers who are amongst the most active, successful and well respected creatives that I know!

So, what would removing Crafts from the CI definition say about the 88,000 people in the crafts who contribute to the Creative economy? Like the arts, and to paraphrase Maria Miller, the crafts are being forced to “hammer home its economic value” and as Julia Bennett freely admits, “what doesn’t get counted, doesn’t count!”

It is little wonder that we should all totally support Graham Hitchin’s rallying cry for the high-profile experts (i.e. who have measured the Creative Industries and get it!) to get round the table and have a serious dialogue!

As a final passing comment, as many questions are being asked about how this definition works, we need to consider that many of us operative in portfolio careers, and thus we fit across multiple sectors, and not just sub-sectors within the arts and creative industries! Our broad creative (and in turn economic) impact extends far beyond the measures that DCMS uses.  Check out, in particular, to Clare Hodgson‘s excellent piece on flexible working as a starter for 10.

Additional Links


Sign up for Boston Digital Conference, Tuesday 28th May 2013

Sign up for Boston Digital Conference, Tuesday 28th May 2013

Join us in Boston on 28th May for the Boston Digital Conference. This event follows on from the success of February’s Making Revolution conference in Boston. With superfast broadband coming to Lincolnshire, we will show you how your business can thrive in the online environment.

Hosted by Dave Briggs of Lincolnshire based digital consultancy, Kind of Digital, join us for an insightful, entertaining and fact-filled half day conference.

Be INFORMED at this non technical business event which willl the a topic areas including:

  • Superfast broadband and what it means for businesses
  • Best use of social media for business.
  • Developing a ‘social’ business
  • The importance of good design
  • Getting your business seen online
  • Making the most of data and content

Get ANSWERS to your questions with expert speakers as they interact with the audience.

Feel ENGAGED with the topics discussed and understand what you can do with your business digitally, and what data will do for you in the future.

To book visit,

Any queries, please contact // @timmy666


This event is delivered as part of the OnLincolnshire programme, a chance for businesses to find out more about the opportunities that digital will bring for them.





Weekly links round up, April 27th 2013

Here’s a quick round up of some of the things that have taken my eye over the past week or so:

Next Generation Skills Birmingham Reworked Storify roundup: courtesy of Michael de Groot, this is the storify roundup of the event held in Birmingham on Monday 22nd April, with some great insights on how the city can best work alongside young people for their futures.

NESTA’s Manifesto for the Creative Economy: hot off the press this week, NESTA have launched a manifesto containing ten ideas  to “bolster one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors”. Priorities include ensuring a truly open internet, enabling young people to learn creative digital skills as a priority of education and a focus on incentivising business ideas and innovation (tax reliefs, easier procurement processes).

Culturehive: as part of the Arts Council’s Audience Focus programme, and managed by the AMA, this free resource was launched last Tuesday and is an open platform to share knowledge and practice in cultural marketing. This is a brilliant initiative but will rely on people and organisations to get into the habit of sharing which I hope they do and married up with strong social media output, I think it could be a great resource.

Eventifier for all you events people – this is a cool means of archiving all your event photos, videos, slides, tweets, conversations and much more from the entire Web.

Crowdgifting: an introductory piece by Help Me Project, if you want to buy a present for someone, well here’s a means collectively buy a present for someone by inviting people—usually friends—to make small donations online.

Social Reading is catching on as Dave Briggs demonstrates through three apps, Readmill, Subtext and Copia. Using the web to share, read together, comment, review, learn. From a book club to a business, or a school class to a lecture theatre, this could really catch on in my different contexts.

Hackschooling: Amy Martin‘s blog piece introduces Logan LaPlante, a 13 year-old who spoke at a TEDxUniversityofNevada event. Hackschooling Makes Me Happy’. As Amy says, hackschooling is ”about the autonomy of the young person to guide their own study and fill in the gaps for themselves.” This is reflective of a project I lead called A Colourful Crowd where young people take charge at New Art Gallery Walsall develop events, trips, workshops for young people and in turn develop life and professional skills. 

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