International Women’s Day 2018

I have been reflecting on Multitude of Voyce’s second service for International Women’s Day in association with St. Thomas’s Church last week. I am grateful for the trust of the Rector, Kelvin Inglis and his ministry team and also the wider support of Salisbury Diocese and Sarum College. The commitment and gifts of two local schools; St. Edmund’s Girl’s School whose pupils Lydia, Hannah & Abbie from Garrett House wrote the speech ‘Throw Like A Girl” with the generous support of Rev’d Dr. Anna Claar Thomasson Rosingh from Sarum College and Godolphin School and their superb Godolphin Vocal Ensemble who sang so beautifully showing off their award winning expertise with grace. Then there’s musicians and composers Olivia Sparkhall, Katie Salomon (Harp), Chris Guild, Delores Dufner OSB, Rachel Hewitt, Hilary Campbell, Mary Hammond, Ute Schwarting (Organ) Jean Holloway, June Nixon, Henrietta Renié, Jeanne Demessieux, Karin Högheilm all present in either voice, word or performance. Historian Alison Daniells (lovely to hear the sound of Middle English). Readers Kate Price, Helen Inglis, Ute, Louise and Mike O’Connell. Rev’d Ana Gobledale with her passionate homily and microphonic interpolations!

Louise Stewart (the green fuse that drives the flower) together with the Rev’d Wendy Cooper and myself have invested our combined grit, prayers and vision with many hours of considered thought and reaching out for the guidance of others and I continue to be amazed how our three different backgrounds, meld so fluidly. Thank you to all those wonderful people currently supporting MoV to achieve it’s vision.

I haven’t mentioned everyone but am so delighted that this brief hour and a half service was the collective effort of over fifty women and girls plus a handful of wonderful men and that it blazed the light of many talented, courageous and groundbreaking women.

On the night people who attended did so against a disturbing backdrop of international espionage and chemical hazard. People always say why do Women need #IWD ? I would say because we are still struggling for a collective voice, for control over our own bodies, for parity of pay, recognition and often, acceptance. As Louise Stewart writes “How shall our hearts be fully opened, how shall our sight be bright and clear? Faith is our candle in the darkness. Faith, love and friendship brought us here”.

Www.multitudeofvoyces.co.uk

Top image – the Rev’d Ana Gobledale lights votive candles to reflect the light of all women

Bottom image: Music Sheet

All photographs taken by Charlotte Mortimer-Talman, March 08 2018

Independence Day

It’s here! Polling Day for the EU Referendum has arrived at last and it has been an ugly, squalid scuffle of a journey to get here on both sides of the campaign. Trouble is, for all the talk of lies and mis-information and lack of ‘fact’ most people, and there are an awful lot more people taking part in the voting than we have seen for the last couple of general elections – most people will be voting based on what they know, on their own personal experience which no doubt, will have the likes of Ben Goldacre ranting on in many an article, post-referendum. But when so many of us are struggling for quality of life, when so many of us have endured a sense of powerless over government policies what could any politician reasonably expect?

That’s how people like Nigel Farage operate, because he spends so much time sitting in bars listening to the alcohol-loosened tongues of ‘we, the British people’ so he knows and understands better than Cameron or Osborne, or even Boris Johnson, what people care about and what matters to them. Sadly, people like Nigel Farage associate with some deeply unpleasant people who adhere to some equally offensive views, which involve violence, misogyny, bullying and aggression. People who think that having the likes of Farage in charge will lead Britain to a better place are sadly mistaken.

Until membership of the EU I had barely traveled, it was too costly, too overwhelming, besides I was always hearing mutterings about the ‘bloody frogs’ and those Germans. But I have now, and I realize that small-mindedness was because we Brits can be a little insular, ‘cutting our noses off to spite our face’ as my Grandmother would say. The EU does work, because we share a lot of DNA, sure there are differences in attitudes and culture as any business who has had to work alongside the French, Germans and Italians on multi-national projects will attest but ultimately it’s a positive experience because it makes us less insular it forces us to think from different perspectives. I learnt healthy cooking from my Dutch neighbour her influence meant our family meals went from ‘meat and two veg’ to coleslaws, salads, making our own bread and own yoghurt, oh and strudel – yum!

A lot of our influence pre-EU was American, in my opinion the Americans have given us something enduring – super sizing: the cheap fast food economy and obesity. That’s a heavy price to pay for their help in the war. I don’t want to be too harsh as they have created their own monster “Trump” and the “NRA Gun Lobby” which is as big a threat to humanity as any form of fascism and not my idea of a Utopian Independent Society, for sure..

On reflection, being in the EU has not been an entirely positive experience. It has been hard for businesses to get used to even more red-tape and to get used to the idea that some of their profits have to be re-invested back into the workforce and more time and money spent on considering matters such as health and safety and working-time directives – rules and regulations that have given more than one Company Director sleepless nights and ulcers. Farmers have been paid not to farm, to stockpile milk and butter mountains and have had to buy more costly products to spray their fields and crops with because of the risks to everyone’s health and in order that we don’t wipe out the bee population. Industry’s have had to stop dumping their waste into our rivers and at sea and find costly methods of re-cycling and safer disposal – oh it’s all been a bit of a trial no doubt about it.

In our NHS Nurses and Doctors from outside the EU have been made to take a language test to prove they can effectively communicate whilst working here, whilst health staff from inside the EU have not and that has led to mistakes but if we leave the EU there is no guarantee that things will change for the better.

I imagine, the people who are powerful and wealthy enough to be likely to be the key decision makers in a non-EU Britain are people who will want to make money, to make large not small, possibly even excessive profits. The easiest and quickest way to do that is to forget what they promised prior to the referendum and simply remove all the red-tape and bureaucracy; the workers employment rights and the health and safety protections, therefore freeing up the wheels of industry once more in order to put profits back in the pockets of business; well their owners pockets at least!

And then there’s the emotional stuff, the life-saving medicines that through membership of the EU we have been able to make more widely available through our collective bargaining power, so that I can buy a packet of anti-histamine for 80p in my local pharmacy and so that cancer medicines AND cancer research are available through our shared membership and shared expertise. For every negative there is a plus to be found but for me, the most important consideration is that IN or OUT do I want men like Michael Gove, whose policies have been authoritarian, selective and hugely damaging to be in power without the protection of EU Laws (or the ability to move there if the Tories go completely right wing)? Do I want the patriarchal society of the seventies and early eighties back, where careers advice for women was to go to secretarial college or become a hairdresser? Do I want to see us return to the day’s pre-EU where I would work all hours, for low pay, no pension contributions and if I didn’t like it I could lump it, hmmm not really. My level of pay hasn’t improved significantly but I do feel far more valued as a worker and safer, much, much safer.

Being in the EU isn’t perfect but I’d rather be IN than OUT

The blog is dead, long live the blog!

DSC_5891a

So (never start an opening phrase with ‘So’…;0) …it has nearly been a year since my last blog post. Social media micro platforms have spoilt me for instant reach. Although I still enjoy others posts I haven’t been motivated to communicate here. I had 93 spam comments when I logged back on, which means that no one much has stopped by and it’s been a case of “nothing to see here, move along please”. It’s all about SEO and tagging and key words and tapping into the social algorithm, which is all pretty joyless. I even gave up my phone which has horrified friends. I was thinking of ditching the email as it’s 70% spam. In essence I have become tech weary, tech overloaded and even a bit tech-phobic  but then I was given an ‘ipad’ (without 4G) but oh, it has re-kindled a little excitement within me for ‘tech’ and then last week at my youngests first parent consultation, our first slot was with a Design and Technology teacher who sat there with a neat piece of kit that the UK Government are funding for school children which has surpassed the RaspberryPi and is more akin to a tablet phone chip and I was seeing the possibilities… a little.

That said, I think I’m going to go a bit retro and just post a photo a week for a while and see if I can re-kindle the inner glow. Don’t stop and stare folks, there’s still nothing to see here… yet….

 

Getting Going

In 2008 I compiled this sheet of quotes and advice from people I admired or respected on the internet, bloggers, designers, freelancers. I called it tips for getting going and used it as the key note for my contribution towards Oxfordshire Youth Arts Partnership Trusts new programme for young creative leaders called ‘Stepping Up’ it was a bold attempt to fill the gap between the lack of practical knowledge these young people had left college or university with and the great ideas or visions they had for making it in the creative industries….

Q.  What makes people successful in starting their own business?

Is it Experience? Education? or Genes?

Most skills and approaches can be learned by study and practice.

Know what you are good at and be confident about this.

It is easier to succeed if you know your strengths. We are often capable of many things but only really ‘good’ at a few. In business you don’t have to be brilliant at everything, although sometimes it may seem like other people are (this is often ego or hard won experience that makes them seem so). Focus on your skills, and grow your confidence about them. Don’t create a bubble of ‘self’ get out there, improve, practise, extend your knowledge/skill/talent.

Get comfortable asking for advice and help.

If you are someone who knows everything there is to know, good luck. Most of us don’t and anyway asking questions is a great way to expand your horizons, most of us never stop learning. There are lots of resources out there and plenty of people who are willing to help you get going. You just need to find them, and ask for their help and advice. Most people love to share their experience and will WANT to help you, don’t be scared and don’t pretend to be more experienced than you are. Be humble, be grateful and be positive.

US entrepreneur and consultant. GLHoffman offers this advice:

TALK to anyone who will listen. And even to those who won’t. If you are hesitant about exposing your idea to others, you won’t be able to expose it to potential employers, customers and funders. Don’t expect constant support, either. Most people will say something like, “yeah, that sounds good. You should do it.”

[What you are looking for are those few who ask good questions or who challenge your thinking process and research. Yes, there is a risk someone else will take your idea and run, but its a small risk worth taking.]

Get really, really good at concisely stating your business idea. A lot of entreprenuers fail in this area. It is important because you will need to communicate this to prospects, investors and new employees. What I have kept in my mind constantly over the years, is one internal question as I have started expounding on some idea: Later tonight GL, (what I call myself) what will he say to Hilda about my idea? Or, as a great friend used to say over and over again, “if it is fuzzy in the pulpit, it is really fuzzy in the pews.” he also advises that you:

Find a metaphor that works for your business idea. It will just help you identify your business to others. Are you the FEDEX of dog products? The Amazon of doll clothes?

He’s talking about branding and identity. Don’t confuse people with different identities, be clear about what you are doing and what you want and what you are offering:

YOUR skills, YOUR product, YOUR experience

 

Research

What are other people in your field doing, how are they ‘selling’ their product/work? Is there anyone else doing what you want to do? Know your market/field of expertise/artform. Check the internet, read books, inform yourself with what’s going on and what’s out there. Read articles, sign up to e-forums, what’s hot? And what’s not?

Network

If no-one knows you’re there how can they work with you? Subscribe to networks, social media, newsletters, e-bulletins etc. Competition is healthy, get in touch with them, let them know you’re there, they may be able to put work your way. Get out there.

 

Take the initiative, look for opportunities

If you have an idea and know what you’re offering then you need to be ready to grasp opportunities as they come. If you have an idea but it’s in the ‘fuzzy’ stage then you need to research and develop what it is, so you can communicate it to others.

Have a CV/Business Card/flyer ready.

When you’re starting-up most people don’t expect you to be ‘merchandised’ and a super-pro, in fact people like the idea of being able to ‘help’ starter businesses provided you have a sound product/idea. You want to get people behind your ideas as GL puts it

“embracing your vision as if it were their own and getting people to do things. That might sound manipulative… getting people to do things for you. It is just the opposite of being manipulative, it is more about giving up things, than controlling them.”

Why? Because you are working as one person and without a sales team/agent etc., you need to help people ‘buy into’ your work. You can do this in small ways, guiding people, leading them to your work by simply being ‘ready for business’.

Get your work toolkit ready

Essential: a contact phone number and email address that you check regularly

Your brand, work name/identity

A CV

and/or :

simple printed material that communicates your business/idea/work,

such as:

business cards/postcards or a portfolio

Website/blog

Flyers

Samples of your work

Artsmonkey

Artsmonkey

I’m a creative freelancer with thirty years experience of working in the arts and theatre with children, young people and adults as a  workshop leader, trainer/author, writer and co-ordinator.  I have a ‘not so secret’ admin and stationary bent. Since late 2012 I’ve been working on cultureactive (UK) an amplification service for those working in …