Journal : What's Going On?

First update on the progress of SoapBox People

Question Time: On Saturday 3rd February 2024 (only two days ago now) I launched a brand new project – SoapBox People – a new membership scheme for creatives.

Part-fundraiser; art project, zine subscription, networking, mentoring, & professional support services. It is designed to solve some of the challenges that our community of creatives face. I am offering a whole bunch of incentives, services & support to those who join, in exchange for financial support of SoapBox at a critical time of growth (as I tackle the process of setting up as a Community Interest Company). Find out about the full offer on the launch blogpage >>> HERE <<<

This it the first time I have set-up such an ambitious project, & the first time I have ever gone straight to my community & asked for your help. Its a scary & beautiful thing, exposing yourself in such depth, with such honesty, & seeing how the world responds. I’ve been reading all the comments & feedback with great interest. Trying to reflect on what has ignited people’s interest, how the service has been received, & logging what has (perhaps) not been made explicit enough.

I promised to blog regularly through this journey, so this will be the first update of many. I am sharing this part of the process publicly for several important reasons, for transparencies sake, for my own professional development, & to hold myself accountable to all of those amazing people who have taken this leap of faith with me. Those who have gifted SoapBox the great responsibility of their cash & belief. Both of which I take very seriously.

Here are some of the questions I have seen pop over over the weekend, & I hope this goes some way to addressing them. If you have a question or clarification you’d like me to make, please email me & I will respond either publicly on the next blog, or privately if you prefer.

1. Who is this for?

Very broadly speaking, this is a fundraiser to support SoapBox. If you love my work & want to support an unfunded, emerging arts organisation in a tough climate, this is for you. You can subscribe & receive the monthly (printed) zine in the post, & not use any of the other offers. The zine will not be available digitally, as this is an integral component of the ethos behind zines, so this is great value in itself. If you join for £36 a year, that works out at only £3 per zine (as they are distributed monthly).

SoapBox People is primarily set-up as a support service for artists, writers, poets, storytellers, arts producers, emerging professional creatives, & anyone persuing a career in the creative industries. I have been doing this for 18 years now, & I have an enormous amount of experience & knowledge in how to develop your creative practice, across artforms. Let me be your personal champion, sounding board, cheerleader & shoulder to lean on. Creating art can be a lonely endeavour. This is why membership comes with ‘60mins of one-to-one creative development’ because I know the value of having a professional to reflect upon your work. Someone to offer offer critical advice & guidance. Friends & family have often delivered this, but, if you are like me, you may have worried that their positive feedback will always be informed by their love for you.

Having operated on a shoestring for almost two decades, I have learnt the most cost-effective ways of maximising the impact of my work, & have found a whole host of providers that deliver the absolute best value for money (think Public Liability Insurance). I have also made a ton of mistakes, & can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that many new creatives make on their journey. I’ve done it wrong, so you don’t have too! The success I have achieved – without any formal funding – is quite remarkable. My negotiation skills have ensured that I no longer work without being properly recompensed, & one of the most important lessons I have learnt is when (& how) to say ‘no’. I also consider myself an expert in creative marketing & promotional approaches, even though I am self-taught. My ability to reach new clients, develop audiences, & build meaningful relationships with like-minded businesses & festivals has enabled me to retain my integrity & autonomy. Two of my core values as a practising artist. If we work together, this is where we would start: by identifying what it is that you hold dearest. As many creatives are restricted by time, money, & resources, it is essential that we all learn to be more selective with where we focus our energies, & are not afraid to (kindly) decline offers that do not align with our ethos.

2. When does it start?

SoapBox People launched on Saturday 3rd February, so I will be posting out the first batch of introduction packs, membership cards, zines, & garlands on Wednesday 7th February. I will generally undertake one big run to the post office a week, so if you join in the next 48 hours, you will receive a beautiful package in the past by the end of the week. I am a practising visual artist myself, so each item will be a unique piece of handmade art.

There will be a ‘Welcome Email’ sent to new members as they join up. The first emails will be sent out by the end of today (5/2/24), & will include a request for artist profile information. Each member will get a digital profile online, & they will be featured on the ‘artists’ page on the SoapBox website. This email will also include a short questionnaire about your work. The idea being that I want to get a feel for what you need, want & expect from your membership. Each artist is making their own unique way in this world, so this will be a person-centred programme of support: a customised approach that helps you achieve your goals. Some will want to perform at festivals, gain funding, develop a new project. Some people will want to develop their network, their creative skills, & their confidence.

3. Where will this take place?

The professional development session can be either online, or in-person. My preference is always face-to-face, as this is where I am most comfortable & how I see the best results emerge. I will come to you (anywhere in East Anglia), so if you’re not in Ipswich or Suffolk this is still achievable, & I will absorb the cost of travel, so please don’t let that be a barrier for you.

The quarterly ‘SoapBox Socials’ will take place in different locations across Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex. Originally I planned for these to only happen in my local area (Ipswich), but I have already had three members join from Norwich, so it just makes sense to rotate where they happen to bring the most benefit to my members. This will also be a great opportunity to see new venues, & artistic hubs, & to develop a broader knowledge about the arts community across the region. I envisage each ‘social’ taking place at a variety of independent venues, arts organisations, & events, perhaps featuring a workshop, talk, or tour of each site by the founders. I have delivered creative projects across the East, so have the specialist knowledge to find brilliant locations that will inspire our community, for each event. Think podcast studios, community arts groups, regularly-funded arts organisations from across the spectrum in the creative industries.

4. Lastly…

The ‘SoapBox People’ project will evolve & develop over time, responding to the needs of our membership. That is why, when you join, I will be asking a whole bunch of questions about your creative practice, so I can shape the service to best respond to your goals.

Already the offer has expanded to include mental health support from BPAM – British Association for Performing Arts Medicine – who have offered free ‘workshops & resources on performance anxiety’ to SoapBox People members. Huge thanks to their CEO Claire Cordeaux for getting in touch, & making this very kind, & very valuable offer of support. Getting on stage & sharing your art is a challenging thing to do – even for professionals - & it takes a toll on an artist’s mental health, so I am incredible excited to be able facilitate this partnership.

I will finish by saying a MASSIVE thank you to early members of SoapBox People. In the first 48 hours 10 people have joined as members. The response has been incredible & has given me such a vital injection of energy (hence why I'm up and writing a blog at 6.30am in the morning). I am so grateful for your support & belief & the many kind messages I have recieved. It truly means the world. I promise to work harder than I ever had before to repay your kindness exponentially. 

5. Where do I sign-up?

You can join SoapBox People for £36 per year on Paypal >>> Click HERE to join SoapBox People 36 <<<

Alternatively, you can join SoapBox People for £60 per year on PayPal >>> Click HERE to join SoapBox People 60 <<<

Both memberships are exactly same. I created the higher band to allow those who can afford it to offer more support to SoapBox. We are all in different places, & it was some very helpful feedback that encouraged me to create a second band. 

If you are unable to afford to join, please don't. You will always be SoapBox People, regardless of your personal ability to offer financial support. I am stil offering two free memberships to people who are unable to afford the membership cost. The first two people to email me will be gifted these memberships, as an act of solidarity. I too have been so poor that I have felt excluded. Something like this would have helped me immensely when I couldn't afford it, so I am paying it forwards. No questions asked. No explanation needed. Just pop me an email to arrange:

Love & thanks & boxes, Amy xxx