This week, I hosted my first ever meet up. It was my husband's idea. Whilst walking around Lake Wendouree on our lunch break last week, I was complaining that there wasn’t a creative/design meet up in Ballarat that I could join. Quite matter of factly, he said that I should probably just host one myself if I wanted to connect with other creatives in town. So I did.
After a few rational conversations with my good friend Eb, we decided that the first Wednesday of the month sounded good and in the evening as that would suit working families. This gave me 4 days to find a venue and advertise the event. I hate facebook with a passion but with such a short turnaround time, I had to go public!
The ‘Show your work’ meetup is exactly that. I wanted to create a space where people would get an equal opportunity to talk about what they are working on right now or even just discuss something that has inspired them lately. The focus is on process rather than product. There are already plenty of events in Ballarat where people who have done amazing things, explain what inspired them and what their process was. I wanted a work in progress, show’n tell. I hoped that people talking about each other's work might spark a new direction or idea that would’ve been missed working in isolation.
The response online was overwhelmingly positive! Lots of people were ‘interested’ and the event got reposted on several pages including “Arts and Culture Ballarat” and ”Ballarat Arts Alive”. It even got a shout out on the local radio station. I was starting to get a bit worried, by this stage 30+ people had said they were ‘interested’. I’d only managed to book an 8 person meeting room at Runway HQ (this is another story all together). However, I need not have worried! There were three of us in total and that's because I picked up my buddies Eb and Em on the way!
What could’ve been a total disaster ended up being exactly what I’d hoped it would be. The three of us spent the next two hours diving deep into all sorts of areas of our work that we don’t normally have time to discuss. It turns out that work/life integration (BB #7) is very much an issue for everyone. We are all parents and own creative businesses - as both the businesses and kids grow, we have to start making some pretty big decisions about how we want to run our lives. ‘Living consciously’ as Eb put it, rather than just surviving from one thing to the next.
Funnily enough, Tara Poole, a member of the Ballarat City Council joined us half way through showing her support for such an event. So we got buy in from the top but no-one in between! Not surprising in Ballarat we learn. Like most small/medium size towns, people get in their cliques and it's hard to get them out - especially on a Wednesday night when it's pouring with rain. She was encouraging though and suggested we actively invite people we are interested in instead of a general facebook shout out - great advice and I don’t have to use facebook, which I’m stoked about!
So, I put myself out there and what could be perceived as a bit of a flop, was an inspiring evening with wonderful creative people sharing experiences, thoughts and ideas. I can’t wait for the next one.