It’s been a couple of months since we first started working alongside Curious Minds as one of their “Film/TV and Media Curious Agents”. The role has been intriguing and challenging in equal measures and has thrown up some issues we never envisaged at the outset. It also seems to have involved a little more cake than we initially expected.
For those who don’t know, Curious Minds are the North West bridge organisation for Arts Council England. This essentially means that their role is connecting young people across the North West with the best Arts, Media and Cultural experiences. Sounds easy, right? There’s more than enough out there. Well, in some respects yes. However, there are lots of organisations doing amazing work, who don’t or in some case don’t know how to promote it. That’s our job, to find them organisations and ensure the schools know that they exist.
We approached the task in two ways. First, there was good old research. We spent hours, actually make that days on the internet finding organisations that use Film, TV or Media with young people. Our first lesson, the words Film, TV and Media are useless when trying to find this information. I’m not sure why we didn’t see this coming. Well look at us, we’re DigiEnable “Making Conversations Happen”. We offer training, consultation and digital storytelling. Film, video and multimedia are a huge part of what we offer but even we don’t use any of those terms.
Additionally, we found that most organisations are very specific about where they work geographically. Try searching for “Community Radio Lancashire” in Google; the first page is dominated by BBC Radio Lancashire and one reference to a community radio project in Pendle. Strange!! Because we know that there is community radio in Preston and Chorley at the very least. But these smaller projects, the ones we need to find, don’t define themselves as regional; they all appear to only work at city/town or national level.
Is there a lesson to be learnt from this? Absolutely, and to be honest it chimes with our experiences of being involved in the third sector for the last twelve years. Community based organisations spend all their time and more focussing on the people they exist to serve. This leaves very little if no time to promote the work, assuming that the organisations have the skills and knowledge to do so in the first place.
Our second approach was a little less desk based and relied on existing relationships. For those who know us, you will already have an idea that we quite like social media (by quite like we mean obsessive!!). Liz has been building a network across the North West and beyond for the last couple of years, while Darren has a lot of contacts from his previous work in Manchester and Lancashire. Both have been well connected in the sector for a while now and we certainly put that to use. We’re not going to let you in on our fact finding methods but let’s say a considerable amount of our outgoings will be under the “Coffee/Cake” category this quarter.
Regardless of whether our method involved creative googling, or cake based bribery we have found 126 organisations that have an offer which we feel schools in the North West could benefit from. Of course, we are not the only “Curious Agents” and our next step is to collate our findings with everybody else’s. We will then be contacting organisations for a more in-depth chat to gather the information we need to create a database which will then be used for an exciting new website.
So, we’re a third of the way through the project and what have we learnt so far. The main finding is that there are a large number of organisations that just don’t get SEO, or indeed don’t have the time for it. But we have to ask the question, if we struggle to find an organisation and we are REALLY looking, what are the chances that a school would find them if they are having a quick look. Our other finding and some may argue that this is more important, is that any future research project should have a cake budget attached, or at the very least a biscuit bursary.
Stay tuned to find out what happens next.
Liz and Darren from Digienable
Curious Agents – Film, TV and Media