Celebrating our new home!

This is not my normal type of blog but it’s been a fairly momentous week, where we finally start to put down roots in the city of Leeds, and I thought it might be worth marking!

So now we’ve moved into Munro House in Leeds – and it is wonderful! Lovely office space, plus a small and friendly meeting room for our clients. Amazing atmosphere – we’re still meeting our neighbours but already said hello to Emma at @culturevultures, Frank @Higher Rhythm, Simon @HebeMedia, Kiran and co @SAA-UK, and of course the inimitable Laura and James @DukeStudioLeeds on the floor below us, and who first introduced me to the venue.

Laura and James, of course, already do great things, and we plan to work together to do more stuff. This Thursday, we are running a workshop for arts organisations who are looking at getting their Catalyst bids in at the end of the month. We’re aiming to help throw some light on some of the implications of Catalyst for those bidding – and even for those who aren’t! We’re then offering drinks and nibbles for anyone who cares to drop in from 5pm, to celebrate being in Munro House, being in Leeds, and being 12 years old!  This invite includes you! – as well as two amazing new clients I met last week – one, really focused and changing the world, is Rachel Powell Ethical Textiles and Design, working in UK, Cambodia and Madagascar (yes, really!);  and the other, Opus, which publishes a monthly magazine called Now Then, operates a promotional materials distribution service and puts on live music and spoken word events.  They’re a fantastic group mixing great ideals/strong values with ambitions for wider success – this will be challenging and fun!

On Friday, we’re running a workshop with a mix of businesses and researchers from the Arts and Humanities school of the University of Leeds – the aim is to match researchers to businesses, and to pilot a demonstration of the extraordinary research capabilities of the Leeds graduates, capabilities that are clearly not limited to sector specialisms. They will be working on a range of issues identified by the businesses, and we will meet up in about six weeks to see the results of that research. It’s an ideal mix of commercial reality and research capability, and should be a stimulating experiment!

CidaCo is part of the European Creative Business Network, a concept which we initiated with partners in the Ruhr Valley (incl Dortmund, twin city to Leeds) and Rotterdam. We now have over 20 European cities in the network and Laura and I are exploring how we might open it up to Leeds generally and to Munro House in particular. The basic idea is to make markets in Europe much more accessible to creative businesses in Leeds and the Yorkshire region, and vice versa. Each city provides a direct contact who will ensure that you have somewhere to work, relevant businesses to meet whether you are looking for collaborators or customers, and have someone to guide you around the city ensuring that you can maximise your time there. It’s a really strong network and we look forward to making it real for Leeds!

Finally for now, don’t forget that we are running a FREE Creative Entrepreneurs workshop programme, The Work of Art, at York St John University for any artist or creative practitioner who graduated from ANY University in Yorkshire and who has been running their own creative business or practice for less than three years. We’ve been doing this for some time now both in Yorkshire and elsewhere and most people love them – very interactive, very practical and good fun – contact Sarah@cida.org for info – NB closing deadline for applications is 30 January 2012. Look forward to seeing you there!

I’m off to Sao Paulo on Sunday to be part of the commemoration of the founding of the city itself by giving a talk on “Transforming a City Through its Creativity”.  It will be preceded by a symphony concert by the Bachiana Philharmonic with full choir, and we all play to an audience of about 300 people so far.  The utterly ineffable Ana Carla Fonseca is organising it for SESI, and has also arranged for two less formal talks over the next couple of days, so I’ll be kept busy!

Have a good week, everyone – oh, and by the way, I have finally given way and we have a Facebook page! – am still learning my way round it but I think it’s called CidaCo………


Anamaria Wills                                   anamaria@cida.org                    Twitter: anamariacida                   Fb:  CidaCo