[Creative Nottingham welcomes guest blog posts from local creatives about their work. Last September James Walker gave us an insight into his work as he developed Dawn of the Unread. Now that it is out, he let’s us in on some innovative ways of getting working help.]
Getting Arts Council funding is becoming increasingly difficult in the current economic climate, particularly if you’re from the East Midlands. Apparently, we’re one of the lowest funded areas in the UK. Although don’t let that put you off. In a world obsessed with targets and figures, I’m sure they’re keen to offset this alarming statistic to avoid being pummelled by the media. So get your applications in now.
There’s also an increased pressure to bring in match funding, currently around 10%. If you’re serious about getting a project off the ground, now is not the time to hide away in the garret. You need to know your local community because they hold the answers.
One useful partnership to consider is our local educational institutions. There’s a real drive now to give students industry experience as a means of enhancing their studies as well as gaining those vital credits on barren CVs. What you get in labour and creativity is priceless, as well as awareness of emerging talent before it gets snapped up and carted off to London.
For the Sillitoe Trail, an App exploring Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, I contacted New College Nottingham and was able to incorporate elements of the project into their Foundation in Design course. I was concerned that the ‘rights’ to show film stills (MGM were quoting £500 per shot) were too expensive and so needed to source alternative content. So students illustrated key scenes. Similarly, Confetti students helped record podcasts and audio, which helped save a lot of money in production costs.
My current project is a graphic novel called Dawn of the Unread which is available across all media platforms. This time I contacted NTU and met Georgia Stone, a Senior Lecturer in the module SOCT208 Working with the Media. For this, students have to complete a 30hour placement as part of their coursework. I pitched the project to students in a ‘Meet the Media’ session at the Clifton Campus and had an incredible response. Consequently I now have English students working as researchers, computing students helping with embedding code, broadcast journalism students filming promotional videos, marketing students helping write press releases, and media students managing social media platforms. For the price of an all day bus ticket and a cup of coffee, I’ve been able to draw in an estimated £10,000 of support-in-kind. I’m also working with students at Nottingham Trent International College in a similar capacity.
One of the key aims of Dawn of the Unread is to address England’s appalling illiteracy figures. To do this I’ve created an interactive novel which I would like every 14+ pupil in Nottinghamshire to download. It has various tasks that readers have to perform, the pupil that scores highest will feature in the final chapter. I don’t have the time or budget to go to every school and so spoke to Francoise Bonner, partnership manager at Nottingham Trent University’s Schools Colleges and Community Outreach department, and we are currently looking at the possibilities of sending trainee teachers out to schools to trial Dawn of the Unread or possibly to help create lesson plans inspired by the project.
So if you’ve got a project that you’d like to kick-start look no further than your local colleges and universities. Not only will you help support future talent but you might just find that match funding that’s becoming increasingly important.
James Walker is Chair of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio and Literature Editor at LeftLion magazine. Dawn of the Unread was released on 8 Feb National Libraries’ Day. For more information see www.dawnoftheunread.com