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Posted in news by Chris Unitt on May 30th, 2011

A Birmingham summer arts calendar for The Guardian

One of the things that we brought across in our recent move to Made Media is the responsibility for running Created in Birmingham, a very popular arts and culture blog. It’s a responsibility that brings with it some interesting opportunities.

Over the past couple of weeks, The Guardian have been running summer arts calendars for cities around the country. These have been written by prominent arts bloggers in those cities, including the likes of The Culture Vulture in Leeds, Creative Tourist in Manchester and Run-Riot.com in London.

So we were rather chuffed when they asked us to write the guide for Birmingham, making sure to dig out a few things that might go unnoticed by the casual visitor (just the kind of thing we specialise in).

Our initial list of events was huge and it took a bit of effort to whittle it down to just ten items. We aimed to include a good variety of different events, so there should be something for just about everyone.

Here’s what we picked for Birmingham.

Summer arts calendar Birmingham

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Posted in general by Chris Unitt on May 30th, 2011

The Power of Online Video

On Tuesday afternoon I went along to Sadler’s Wells for a digital seminar called The Power of Online Video. Here’s some of the blurb that had enticed me:

With support from the Paul Hamlyn FoundationSadler’s Wells will host a half-day seminar on the role of video in the communication strategy of small and mid-sized arts and non-profit organisations

I couldn’t make it in time for the start, but I arrived to a packed Lilian Bayliss studio in time to catch the tail-end of a panel session on ‘Video as part of your online strategy’.

Sadler's Wells The Power of Online Video

After a short break we returned to the studio for a panel discussion around ‘Creating and Distributing Digital Video for the Arts Sector’, moderated by Time Out’s Dance Editor, Lyndsey Winship.

Kate Vogel, a Producer at Tate Media, was first up. She had come from a broadcast background but had taken the view that it was possible to do more interesting forms of documentary filmmaking for other organisations. She talked about some of the material they’d produced and showed a recent video of Moby at Tate Modern.

Maya Gabrielle is a Digital Content Producer at the National Theatre. Recognising that the seminar had been promoted to small and mid-sized organisations, she spoke about two ways in which they produce relatively cheap video content.

Firstly, she showed One Man, Two Guvnors – Video Diary #1 which had been filmed on Flip cameras handed out to staff directors and some cast members, with the resulting footage edited together in-house. She explained that the loss of visual quality that comes with filming in this way is offset by the ability to show audiences something they wouldn’t ordinarily have seen.

Secondly, Maya spoke about NT’s partnerships with The Roundhouse and the RCA. In return for films being made about their productions, NT provides young filmmakers with inspiration, access (to artists, the theatre and a different creative process) and a platform for showing their work. She stated that many other organisations could do likewise if they were to approach local colleges and universities.

Bonus item: the vocal warm-up exercises from the National Theatre on iTunesU are surprisingly popular, apparently.

David Kaplowitz gave some tips for making a good video and discussed the blurring of roles that is happening between filmmakers, writers and directors.

Above all, David was keen to emphasise the importance of pre-planning. Clarity at this stage can avoid the common mistakes of pieces that are too long, not focussed enough on the subject at hand and not in touch with what the audience wants.

Guy Ruddle is the Head of Visuals at Telegraph Media Group, although he was originally hired from the BBC as their Podcast Editor. He spoke about the role of video and how they use it to improve their storytelling, as well as the degree of coordination required by the art and tech/video teams.

It was cheering to hear that, of the 11m video views per month (on a ‘bad’ month) that the Telegraph serves, the ‘arts’ category ranks second, only behing ‘news’.

There were some smart questions for the panel afterwards about how to resource digital teams at organisations and the outcomes that video can achieve. The choice quote from this section came from Maya Gabrielle and related to the role of social media and online communities in all of this. She said:

If you’ve made a beautiful piece of content but not created an audience for it, you’ve wasted your money

It’s fair to say that provoked a fair amount of head nodding and note scribbling.

The seminar then drawing to a close, we retired to the pub to carry on the conversation.

UPDATE. Videos of the talks have been uploaded to the Sadler’s Wells YouTube account. Click the links to hear from Kinglsey Jayasekera, Richard Cohen, Patrick Johnston, Tom Laidlaw and Maya Gabrielle.

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Posted in news by Chris Unitt on May 24th, 2011

Meshed Media joins Made Media

Chris Unitt


Hello there.

My name’s Chris Unitt and, until recently, I ran a company called Meshed Media that worked with arts organisations and others on social media projects.

The ‘until recently’ bit is important, because I’m very pleased indeed to announce that Meshed Media has been bought by Made Media.

In fact, Ian Ravenscroft and I moved in at the beginning of the month and have spent the past few weeks kicking off some exciting new projects and learning how to work the coffee machine.

Made’s new social media services

We’ll be helping Made’s clients make the most of the opportunities provided by social media and online communities.

It’s an ever-expanding, increasingly important  area, with opportunities for improved marketing, distribution and customer service as well as co-creation with audiences, new ways of expressing creativity and, well, the list goes on and on.

As a result of our move, Made now offers strategic consultancy and training in these areas, as well as assistance with social media monitoring and management. We can also help with campaign planning, auditing/benchmarking of online activity and liveblogging of events and conferences. We’re available to speak at events too.

In fact, there’s not a lot we don’t cover, so get in touch if you’d like to find out what we can do for you.

A very good fit

Over Meshed Media’s two-year span we worked with some great clients including Town Hall Symphony HallInternational Dance Festival Birmingham, DanceXchangeSampad, Rosie Kay Dance Company, Bullring Birmingham, Apples & Snakes and plenty more. We also looked after Created in Birmingham and the Birmingham Social Media Cafe.

There’s a fair amount of crossover with Made’s client list there and that’s down to a shared passion for arts and culture and a complementary set of services. In fact, we’ve worked together on a number of projects over the past couple of years and that’s made this transition feel pretty natural.

Say hello

We’ll introduce ourselves in more detail later and tell you what we’ve been up to. In the meantime, Ian and I are on Twitter (@ravonski and @ChrisUnitt), we get out to a lot of events and the coffee at Made is every bit as good as they said it was. We look forward to meeting you.

*UPDATE*

Blimey! There was quite a good reaction to this news on Twitter so I’ve collected a lot of the tweets together here. Thanks for all the kind words!

(Photo by Lee Allen Photography)

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