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Tips and tricks

Keep it simple

Once you start down the path of working with artists and spaces or place making and renewal there can be a lot of temptation to complicate and add to the project. At its core, these strategies work best when kept simple: matching ideas to available spaces. The decision to chase funding for non-core things or to move into other areas should only really be made if you are confident that the core operations can remain simple and efficient. It’s the simplicity of the scheme that allows so many new things to access it. The most you complicate the process, the criteria, extend the timelines or otherwise detract from its simplicity the more you shrink the pool of potential projects and appilciants.

Embrace temporariness!

There is always a lot of temptation and pressure to expand from doing temporary projects into creating permanent facilities, schemes or structures. The whole point of this approach is to activate the temporary and embrace the ephemeral. If you or elements of your community want to take on permanent ownership, or build ongoing infrastructure this may prove to be a bad way to go about it. It is vital that long term plans, agendas and discussions are kept separate from temporary uses: nothing would destroy credibility sooner than temporarily using a building or a space and refusing to move out of it or agitating against the owners long term plans. No one will lend you a property again if you do that!

It’s not about the grand plans

It helps to think of this kind of approach as an exercise in thinking small rather than a grand vision. It is best to be guided by the question of “how do we make this space/ city/ community work well for the needs of creative people with limited resources?” rather than trying to implement a grand vision. If you get the small scale and bottom up aspect of the scheme right the bigger picture will take care of itself. There are no lack of great grand schemes but if the motivated people necessary to realise it can’t be found it is probably not going to get anywhere fast.

Be transparent

Everyone involved needs to know what they are signing up for and where they stand at all times. Schemes like this are largely based on trust and they rely on everyone giving a little bit so that they can gain a lot. There are limits to how much people can be expected to do with the resources they are being offered and people need to always understand the constraints. The key thing for all involved is to be transparent about the terms being offered and what is being expected – there is no need to mislead anyone or overpromise things you can’t deliver. Give people all the information so that they can make informed decisions.