On Monday I scrolled through my emails and was shocked and saddened to read one that told me IdeasTap would be closing.
IdeasTap is a UK arts charity offering creative support and inspiration to young people forging careers in the arts. It’s a wide-ranging and wide-reaching charity, helping young people whatever their artistic discipline. They advertise arts jobs, help people get funding for their arts projects, offer competitions and briefs with wonderful prizes which often include showcasing your work, and offer mentoring and workshops from professionals in the field. All for free. There are no fees for being a member; there is no cost for entering their competitions.
I suppose I always, naively, assumed IdeasTap would be one of those organisations that would simply always be there. A place where people could go for ideas and inspiration, for help and guidance and, crucially, for opportunities. The arts are notoriously difficult to get into, and IdeasTap offer a way in. They offer me a place to go for writing inspiration and advice, they offer me the chance to get my work out there. I assumed it would be there for future generations, too.
Ultimately, IdeasTap is closing because of money. You can read a letter from the Chairman, Peter De Haan here, but below are a few excerpts I’ve picked out, with the parts I think most important in bold:
“I set up IdeasTap in 2008 amid the fast-growing global financial crisis. My trustees and I could see the impact it was going to have on young people leaving education and, in particular, we were concerned about those entering the arts and creative industries. We wanted to do something about it, and IdeasTap was our response: funding for creative projects, unique industry opportunities, training, advice, online and offline networking, job listings and more – all for free.”
“We’ve grown quickly, with just shy of 200,000 members across the UK today and millions of people visiting our website every year. We’ve given away more than £2.3m in funding and mentoring to our members and 62,000 people have benefited from opportunities we’ve created. That’s quite aside from those who have met collaborators through our site, found jobs or been inspired by our editorial and advice.”
“Despite our success, to-date IdeasTap has been primarily funded by my charitable trust. Our efforts to secure government or corporate support have failed – and my charitable trust, which was set up in 1999 to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK, will soon run out of money. The result, regrettably, is that IdeasTap will close three months from now.”
“If running IdeasTap has taught me one thing it is that we have an incredible pool of creative talent in this country, who – given the chance – have an enormous amount to contribute to our culture, our society and our economy. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.”
I hope by reading the above it’s clear just how much of an invaluable source IdeasTap is to young people, and how sad it is that the charity is having to close.
I know and understand that there’s only so much money the Arts Council and other organisations can give, and that there are many arts projects and organisations that apply for, and deserve, funding. But it seems that IdeasTap does so much for young people – the next generation of creatives – that it seems wrong that this door will now be closing. With IdeasTap closed, how many people will struggle even more than before to secure a job or even work experience in the arts? How many people will face insurmountable barriers and have to give up their dream of a career in the arts? How much creative talent will our country lose?
I think the main thing about IdeasTap is that the majority of opportunities are free and nationwide, making resources available to everyone, regardless of wealth or geography. Organisations like IdeasTap work to make the arts a diverse place where there are no barriers, which is why I think it’s crucial that IdeasTap is able to continue its work.
I hope there’s a solution to this situation. What’s great to see is that many IdeasTap members are trying to stop the closure. I just hope that media attention not only shows how much IdeasTap is valued by its members past and present, but secures some much-needed long-term funding for the charity.
If you want to know more about IdeasTap, and the finer details on why they have to close, there’s a fantastic interview with their Editor, James Hopkirk here.