For the first two weeks of The Space project I kept an immaculate excel spreadsheet detailing the hours I was working on the project. One page was for writing, the other meetings. I did this partly out of paranoia and partly for future reference. First the paranoia. Initially, the Sillitoe Committee did not share my enthusiasm for being one of only 53 organisations to be selected as a guinea pig for an amazing new multimedia experience. Quite rightly they raised pragmatic concerns about how the project would be executed, who would be doing what and that it was not financially viable. This was a very difficult period as endless meetings and debate meant I was unable to start working on the project as we couldn’t agree on a starting point.
The end result, after a sensible and understanding conversation with David Sillitoe, was that Paul Fillingham and I would have complete control to manage it as we saw fit. To be safe and to appease well-founded concerns, we drew up a separate constitution so that all responsibility fell on my head as project manager and the person who signed away his life on the bid. I was absolutely over the moon as it meant I could finally sink my teeth into this gorgeous literature project.
The reason for our difficulties was the bid was placed a few minutes before the deadline as I’d only heard about it last minute. This meant there was no time to consult the committee and Paul and I literally came up with a plan. Secondly, we were perhaps naïve in our understanding of how the committee works. I had always perceived that different members, according to skill set and enthusiasm, would manage individual projects. So if Mark Shotter is putting on a night of music I leave him to do it as this is his area of expertise. Likewise I saw the Space as very much a project that was for me and Paul and so didn’t factor in the rest of the committee to roles. This may have had the effect of making some people feel alienated. But it had been the modus operandi prior to The Space.
If I had had more time I would have factored in a lot more roles and budgeted accordingly. As it stands I find myself doing an endless amount of work that can get in the way of the creative process. For example, drafting contracts and then posting them. Keeping a budget for every single penny and ensuring that invoices tally up with cheque numbers. Even popping down to various banks across Nottingham and paying money in. It’s incredibly time consuming, far more so than I could ever have imagined, but I guess this is the learning curve and something I will account for in the future.
Now I’m slowly learning (or rather having to) delegate particular jobs and rebudget in places to get additional support. I don’t feel like I’m going to burn out but I do know I need to concentrate on the content and the editorial process. This is why I no longer keep an excel spreadsheet. I don’t have time to faff about with needlessly self-induced bureaucracy. Validation is in the superb content. My mentor at the BBC Stephen James-Yeoman, emailed today to say, “I’ve just watched the Al Needham Pubs A/V. It’s brilliant, I think it’s as good as the best thing on The Space.” You’ll be able to judge this for yourself in a few days time. But I’ll save that for another blog. There’s some stamps that need licking and I’ve got to write a two page description of the working conditions of Raleigh in the fifties for a nineteen-year-old beatboxer (long story), and…in fact why am I still writi