In response to the RSA's concern over the Creative Gap, the NEone Creative project sought 'to close the creativity gap by leading an approach to learning and development that enables everyone, regardless of background, to generate original, valuable ideas and make them happen'. Whilst this first stage of the project through the RSA has now come to close, the passion and energies for NEone Creative (NEOC) are very much alive.
This project is now one of the projects successfully awarded funding to help develop the platform as part of the Creative Fuse North East programme which is funded by AHRC and ERDF. NEOC keeps the original contributors of Paul Fleet (Newcastle University and a Fellow of the RSA) and Laura McKay (Slope Design, UX Researcher at hedgehog lab and a Fellow of the RSA) and adds into the mix Mark Bailey (Northumbria University and a Fellow of the RSA), Nate Sterling (Northumbria’s Creative Fuse Innovation team within Innovate at Northumbria) and, our newest member, Harry Ronchetti ( UX Designer and Front - End Developer at hedgehog lab and Freelancer).
NEone Creative's original aim was to provide a digital platform to connect people through the sharing, collaborating, and co-creating of artistic pieces in the widest sense of the arts; this is still the core premise and we are working towards creating a fresh platform that promotes collaboration amongst freelancers and connect people to organisations seeking talent.
In the first few months of the Pilot we set about establishing the stakeholder network we aimed to connect with throughout the project. Using design innovation tools such as Stakeholder Mapping, the Value Proposition Canvas and the Business Model Canvas, helped shift NEone Creative onto its next phase of life and helped us reflect and build upon the learning from the first stage of the platform.
During the research phase at the start of 2018 we invited people to share their experiences with us - we talked about what challenges have they found when freelancing, why they do it and what sharing, collaborating and co-creating means to them. In these sessions, which consisted of workshops and informal drop in’s at Campus North (a co-working and event spaces for tech meetups, startups and established businesses) in Newcastle, the team spoke to Photographers, Set Designers, Media experts, DJs, Coders, Marketeers, Bloggers, Musicians and SMEs and an advisor for the Dept. of international trade.
As well as these different disciplines, we talked to full time freelancers; those who were curious about the freelance life and just starting out, and many others who juggle working a full time job and freelancing. These insights are what we are using to help define what this first prototype should become. Half our team may be a match for the type of audience we anticipate being a key user group of our platform, but it was vital we did our research, the valuable conversations we had truly helped us gain different perspectives.
Our initial findings show that freelancers do what they do for the love and passion of it, for learning new skills and trying new things. Many suffer crisis of confidence, lack support and resource, and find managing clients expectations a challenge; all of these findings can be linked to the RSA’s concern over the Creativity Gap which originally started NEOC. A common thread throughout all of our conversations was that the sense of community freelancers needed was lacking - this was the catalyst us realising that NEOC needs to develop offline too, to facilitate and support freelancers coming together.
Harry, with his skills in User Experience and Front-End development will be an asset to our team and help us take our research and turn it into a tangible prototype - one that we hope to conduct usability testing on with our now established network of freelancers and businesses. The output of this is not a final one, we hope to iterate and work on the prototype and develop it into a live platform for anyone to use.
As this project grows so do we hope awareness of the project grows across the North East and we would ask any RSA members who have an interest in this project to get in touch. If you would like to do so, please contact Paul (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nate (email@example.com) for more information, and you can also follow our progress at https://twitter.com/NEoneCreative