Insight: A work in progress. There are artists communities in a lot of the different areas in and around the town but no specific design community; nothing to bring web, film or graphic designers together.
Perhaps there’s a feeling of community between artists due to shared workspaces and permanent places to exhibit? Some of these groups have open studios or arts-week events, the larger venues offer spaces to host workshops, life drawing classes and craft fairs. A community between designers would bring more collaboration and more knowledge to all types of practice.
A core of local, available design resources will help the town build a reputation as somewhere to learn and develop new skills. It would also encourage related businesses, from small-scale print-shops to IT outlets to base themselves here.
We've got a festival in the back of our minds, a bit of research behind us and a theme.
The Shrewsbury Design Festival is about resilience; what part does it play in working away from a city?
We are a county of creatives - artists, designers, illustrators, animators, film-makers, photographers and more; Shrewsbury serves as a hub for the county and beyond, it is a place where we can bring people together.
Does location affect creativity? Geography can create barriers, both physical and cognitional, resilience is paramount. Location and interaction is a key to progress so as we retract from city to town to village do we lose connection? Are the cities where everything happens or does a better life/work balance draw people away?
Through discussions and lectures we want people to share stories on how they deal with barriers, what keeps them motivated and relevant. Workshops and exhibitions will help the wider public understand the role of a designer, encourage new generations and foster new ideas.
Start small, test the water?
I recently met with Katy Cowen from Creative Boom and we spoke about the festival. She suggested a gradual approach, telling me a story of a friend of hers in a similar situation.
He had moved to Manchester as a freelance designer and found that it was hard to find a creative community when there’s doesn’t seem to be anyone around or a ‘way in’ to any existing circles. His answer was to create his own by starting a series of meet up’s which grew into Glug-style events at various venues in the city.
It’s perhaps a way to make a start in Shrewsbury?
If nobody comes then so what, at least we've had a go…