What we did (and how we did it)
We did a lot at IdeasTap – funding, jobs, competitions, networking, crowdfunding, training, events, educational resources, office space for startups, a magazine – and much else besides.
In fact, we think we were unique in providing all the services we did, for free. With 200,000 members from a huge range of creative backgrounds, and a charitable mission to help as many emerging artists as possible, we were determined to provide opportunities for all of them.
We helped emerging artists of all disciplines to make new work by offering project funding – often with expert mentoring included. With sums ranging from £500 to £30,000, we enabled our members to get brilliant, innovative projects of varying scales and stages of development off the ground.
Some of our most high profile funds included Ideas Fund Edinburgh, offering theatre companies £10,000 to take a show to the Fringe, Sky Academy Arts Scholarships, which gave five artists £30,000 to support their creative practice for a year and Ideas Fund shorts, which gave filmmakers £5,000 to produce a short film. But just as important were our more modest pots, including Ideas Fund Innovators and our TopUps, which provided seed funding to get new projects started – or existing projects finished.
Between 2009 and 2015 we supported more than 700 individual creative projects through our various funds, with many thousands of people involved in their realisation. In total we gave out more than £2.3m in cash and associated mentoring to our members.
Working with many of the UK’s most prestigious arts organisations, we created hundreds of creative competitions every year, offering exclusive industry opportunities, commissions, prize money and training.
These included The IdeasTap Photographic Award, offering mentoring from Magnum photographers, project funding, an exhibition and a £5,000 prize, The Columnist, where budding writers won a paid weekly arts column in our Magazine and The 24 Hour Plays, which gave actors, producers, writers and directors the chance to stage a production on The Old Vic stage.
We ran 1,152 competitions during our six years, with more than 8,000 winners.
The Spa: Training and events
We offered a free, nationwide programme of training events, which we called The Spa, offering workshops, seminars, Q&As, CV clinics, portfolio reviews, networking events – and more.
Hundreds of industry experts educated our members at The Spa, including Kevin Spacey, Andrew Scott, Jemima Rooper, Cush Jumbo, Jonas Bendiksen, Larry Towell and Eli Reed, along with others from across the creative spectrum.
Our Spa events were first-come, first-served, ensuring that any of our members could benefit from free professional training. More than 26,000 people attended our sessions across the UK in the four years the programme ran.
Key to our success was the close relationship we built with the industry. We formed long-term partnerships with 53 major arts organisations – and created one-off opportunities with dozens of others. Our partners included the National Theatre, National Youth Theatre, Magnum Photos, British Film Institute, mac birmingham, Sky Academy, The Lowry, FORMAT festival, BBC Writersroom, New Adventures, Barbican, Mother London, Underbelly, Flatpack Festival, Writers' Centre Norwich and Old Vic New Voices.
With them, we created funds, competitions, commissions, awards, bursaries, training events, seminars and even festivals – and helped many thousands of our members to make critical industry connections.
IdeasTap wasn’t just an arts charity – we were also the UK’s largest online network of emerging artists, with more than 200,000 creative people signed up, each with their own professional profile and portfolio.
Members could make an unlimited number of creative connections through our website. We believe the countless professional relationships and friendships that we helped our members to forge will prove to be one of IdeasTap’s most important and enduring legacies.
IdeasMag was our magazine – home to interviews with creative practitioners, How To guides, inspirational stories, member profiles and opinion from talented new writers like Lakeisha Goedluck (that's her above). The guiding principle was that the content should be useful, inspirational – and have a long shelf life, so that it could be as helpful in the future as when it was published. For this reason, we have preserved the entire archive of 3,974 articles, which you can access here…
The single most visited area of IdeasTap was our jobs section. Featuring more than 1,000 openings at any time, it was the most comprehensive arts jobs listing service in the UK. We trawled the internet to track down every possible position that might be relevant to our members, and posted it on our site, so that they only needed to look in one place to see what was out there. In 2014 alone we listed more than 21,000 creative jobs.
We knew our own funding could only go so far, so in 2014 we launched a crowdfunding platform – Accelerator. We wanted to encourage our members to crowdfund their ideas, but we didn’t want them to have to pay the fees that other sites charged. So we offered a commission-free service and, every month, we pledged £500 of our own money to the projects we liked the most. With 75% of Accelerator projects hitting their targets, it proved to be a popular and effective alternative to our more traditional funding schemes.
What started as a couple of spare desks in our office grew to IdeasTap members taking over an entire floor of our building. Theatre companies, filmmakers, designers, dancers, journalists and many others were all given access to desks, phones and office facilities to help their businesses grow. We offered the space in return for pro-bono work for IdeasTap, so filmmakers made films for us, writers wrote articles – and so on. More than 100 creative businesses benefitted from the scheme over four years.