Our RSA Engage series has been turbo charged for 2015- moving from its trial phase in 2014 to become a cornerstone of our activity. The Engage series is a national programme of events aimed at showcasing RSA activity and providing space for our Fellows to meet, share their ideas and offer support to Fellow-led projects in a simple and structured way. To give you a flavour of what we have in store, here are some of my favourite stories from 2014.
Okay, so this isn’t a story, rather a call out for you to create the story. 2014 Engage pilots saw a raft of great people and ideas brought together. 2015 is going to be bigger and better through our Engage and Connect events will have created space for 184 project pitches and 44 Connect discussion slot. That’s 228 potential new ideas to be discussed and shared. These events are free and open to all, so do invite friends and colleagues that are keen to find out more about the RSA.
So the question is:
• What do you want to tell the people who come to these events?
• What are your burning passions and powerful project ideas?
a space for 184 project pitches and 44 Connect discussion slot
We want to hear about it and help give you a platform. But don’t worry if you don’t have a super project tucked away, you’ll still have plenty to offer. RSA Fellowship is about the sharing of skills and information as much as it is about the promotion of new ideas. We’ll be doing our bit to ensure everyone who comes develops a better understanding of the RSA and how they can get involved in our work, it may even help to spark your unspoken creative idea.
Over in Wales the regional team have taken on the task of exploring the RSA’s new Change Aims. They are considering what this renewed focus will mean for Cymru and its Fellows. Wiard and Kathy the chair and councillor have asked a committed group of Fellows to come together and explore each one. They used the annual conference to pitch this idea and then set up small teams of the most interested about these networks. They’ve begun to take shape and form little clusters of Fellows with a passion for the Change Aims.
To help grow the groups and expand the range of views they might encounter we’ll be using the RSA Connect event in Wrexham to focus on our Public Services and Communities Change Aim. We’ll be giving them a platform to discuss their ideas with the group and seek connections and feedback. Already, a local Wrexham based Fellow has come forward to give a local view on public service reform and will be discussing how Heritage can play a crucial role in the delivery of public services in the area, and we’ll be looking for more.
These Connect events are run as the little brother of Engage and are designed to focus on a particular topic of interest. They’ll be smaller, more intimate affairs whilst also including the ability to network and hear about the RSA. These sessions will give a platform to two ideas, views or projects and allow Fellows to make links, offer support and help influence ideas. There will also be space for you to talk about and find out more about the local network of Fellows as well. The dates for all our Engage and Connect events are all confirmed and details of their locations are available via our website.
Maybe I’m biased because Yinka’s from one of my regions but I think he’s great. At 23 he’s developed a popup collaborative arts studio and gallery and is developing ways to promote the RSA’s Student Design Awards across the West Midlands. (You can hear about the Student Design Award idea at our second Birmingham RSA Engage on Tuesday 10 February)
This story started last year when the idea for RSA Engage had already been formed and we were testing and trialling it. We’d already run a number of large events in London in the RSA’s Great Room but we knew we couldn’t say it was a success until we’d done it elsewhere. So the RSA’s regional team was sent out to find amazing Fellow-led projects and venues and host wonderful RSA Engage events. Now, Birmingham likes to think of itself as the UK’s second city so we had to run something there. We had a venue and we had project pitchers and all of a sudden our venue had an international event land in their space. We were left with a few weeks to find a venue and up stepped our Regional Councillor Lorna. “Rich, go and speak with Yinka, he came to our FutureShift Festival and he’s ace” Not one to turn down a tip from a Fellowship Councillor I hooked up with Yinka at the Loft B’ham.
Now it wasn’t as grand as the Great Room but it was as full of comic strips, paintings and creative energy so we decided to go with the space. So in June whilst I was welcoming a new family member into our clan my colleague Lou and Alex jumped in and helped eight people talk passionately about their project and make focused and clear asks of the eager audience. That night we heard from a primary teacher working in Sierra Leone with his pupils; a new and soon to be Centenary Young Fellow spoke passionately about her work empowering young women to become future leaders; and RSA Academy students sought Fellows help to develop a training programme for Year 8 pupils across the RSAs Family of Academies.
RSA Fellowship is about the sharing of skills and information as much as it is about the promotion of new ideas.
Now the thing I haven’t said until now is that until that event Yinka wasn’t a Fellow. He’d heard about the RSA but always from afar. Through Lorna, Yinka became a Centenary Young Fellow and has been active in the West Midlands region ever since developing links, supporting others and working with the RSA’s Student Design Awards to improve their reach and impact.
I hope these three little examples have wetted the appetite and sent you searching for your nearest Engage and Connect. With 45 events running in 2015 we hope to see you at one of them soon. The first is in Stoke-on-Trent on Tuesday 27 January and we won’t stop till December when the last event is hosted in London on Monday 2 December in the Great Room at the RSA… a fitting final destination.
I look forward to hearing your stories soon.