Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Would you run onto a football pitch naked to promote your venue?

Here's a little something to (hopefully) bring a smile to your face if you're a bit weary after the summer holidays. (Using the word hopefully in a pedant-friendly way there, I note.) Audiences North East have just shared a report on Low cost/no cost marketing and ideas generation. You can find it here. As well as lots of ideas it also shares the methodology used by Lisa Baxter in a 'creative ideas generation' workshop with lots of arts folk in North East England.

Although this is exactly the kind of thing that has some people clenching their buttocks and smiling tightly, and I might draw the line at water pistols myself, I've often felt that some arts organisations - or more accurately people who work for them - don't always practice what we preach about creativity. So it's good to see it working. Whether any of the ideas happen is another matter, of course, but there are some mad and good ones here, and some which are both.

Favourites, though not necessarily ones I'd advocate, from the list of 480 ideas include:

- World record ‘moon’ spells out venue name from aerial perspective• Do a mock political march, in the colours of your venue. Ferociously steam through town shouting about your venue
- Croissant trail to your venue
- Get a traffic warden to dress up as mascot to put tickets on cars
- Walk around with a box of smells for your venue and ask people to guess where it is
- Redirect all traffic past venue
- Set up camera on one seat in auditorium and take a picture every performance for a year, capture expression – make into time-lapse video for YouTube and advertising
- Start a conga line, everyone who joins gets discounted tickets
- Run naked with a banner at St James Park

There was a slight running theme of nakedness and nudity. It may be a Northern going-out-without-a-coat-even-in winter thing taken to extremes.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Give me sand before gold, sea instead of champagne

It's been quiet on here due to holidays and a lot of post-holiday work. This is a quick one to get back in the swing. The photo above was taken in the lobby of Northern Stage in Newcastle, and is part of a page from the programme for a production of Barthomlew Fair in 1970, written by Sid Chaplin. (It's part of a really pleasing exhibition of old programmes and poster marking their 40th birthday.) As so often, Chaplin, who was chair of Northern Arts for some years, puts things both simply and evocatively. It struck me as a more powerful argument for the added value of the arts than anything else I've read recently, even though it doesn't suggest government investment is about profit in some peculiar equation necessary because everything in life is a commercial transaction. Or do I mean because.

For those reading this on their crackberry without photos, hopefully these sentences will make you want to click through:
'Here we can draw power from the massed voltage which in some strange and mysterious way makes us wholly and completely individual again...Here when the temporal is shattered we can exist outside of time, laugh, weep and be shriven.'

If you don't know his work, Sid Chaplin is well-worth catching up on - he was in many ways a forerunner of the Northern Kitchen Sinkers, Sillittoe, Barstow et al. Some years ago, I was writer in residence in Shildon in County Durham, where Sid Chaplin was born, and alongside some texts by myself, had a quote from his great novel
The Day of the Sardine carved 30 foot long by the library. It reads: ‘Give me sand before gold, sea instead of champagne, and all the common things like air, and wind, and clouds, and people.’ Which is actually worth repeating, in bold:
‘Give me sand before gold, sea instead of champagne – what’s it like anyway? – and all the common things like air, and wind, and clouds, and people.’