Some of you may know that my full-time job is helping people in the arts in the south east of Ireland. I’m co-ordinating a regional arts programme across five counties for all types of creative people and groups. One of the main strands of the programme was to introduce a website to connect, support and profile artmakers 18 years and above and their work. You might be thinking how this influences my own work, but read on.
As you can imagine overseeing the development of such a website for such a diverse audience was both daunting and exciting (it still is) but you can hear about my efforts in a podcast interview here, where Krishna De ( a leading Irish based social media strategist) and Ken McGuire (an IT expert heavily involved in the arts in Kilkenny), asked me about my strategies and implementation of social media and ideas. They were both involved in setting up the first Podcamp in Ireland, an open forum on all aspects of social media to facilitate the development of vibrant online communities and I was lucky enough to attend. An introduction to such ideas and people actively intent on sharing their knowledge was a godsend in many ways but yes I can admit I was initially daunted – the informal but very professionally ‘unconference’ (where the emphasis is on active sharing) was ‘streamed‘ live to connect with online audiences who couldn’t attend, people were ‘twittering‘ (posting short comments live to followers) during talks and other sessions were being ‘podcast‘ (for online radio listeners). There was talks by ‘bloggers‘ too but what was also fascinating was the mix of people from business and the creative industries who were attending.
I initially took away some practical ideas to better connect with my audience, Dave Maybury from Poetry Ireland told us about an online e-newsletter format, that I now use to great effect in sharing information about the arts inthe south east and in my own way I had started to blog but I hadn’t known it. Before I started this job I had set my mum up with a template website as on a visit home I realised all her family history work, lying in notebooks could all be so easily lost. Little did I realise it but I set her up on the most popular blogging template WordPress -she’s as surprised as me that she’s now a regular blogger and most exciting for her at her age is the new friends and distant relatives that the blog has now connected her with, it has literally opened up a whole new world for her (she’e at the moment seriously considering attending a family reunion in the state, an inivation from a distant relative who found her blog).
Much later I set up a blog for my own art and while I haven’t had much time for it, it has brought me information and contacts, new audiences for my work and I recognised its also a mechanism for me to log ideas that would otherwise be lost. I’ve since set up numerous blogs for people, both in the arts and for others I recognise have niche knowledge that could be shared with new audiences. Some of this also resulted in courses I developed for my work and in fact with Ken McGuire I believe we started the first ‘how to blog for the arts’ course in the country (you can see more about these new art bloggers here). I’ve also participated in uploading my work to social media such as youtube – which I’ve described in earlier posts – a short film I made was picked up from youtube within hours by curators who asked me to exhibit my work in London!
A lot of this knowledge has occurred slowly and I’ve made mistakes but couldn’t recommend anything better than joining up and perhaps better still, attending the 2nd Podcamp Ireland, here again in Kilkenny, on the 27 Sept. If you are interested but can’t attend, do subscribe to info updates on the Podcamp website but also to updates from new blogging support site that Ken set up profreelanceblogger.com