IFB 2014: What’s In It For Me? Part One

Copyright Pete Goodbody 2011

The International Festival of Business (IFB) lands in Liverpool this summer. But what opportunities will there be for arts and culture businesses? We asked a range of experts to shed some light…

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few months about The International Festival of Business (IFB); a combination of over 100 events and 250,000 visitors in Liverpool through June-July 2014, promising to ’accelerate UK economic growth’ and ‘connect the smartest entrepreneurial minds and best business opportunities in the world’.

With a Knowledge, Creative & Digital theme on offer, what does this mean for arts and culture organisations or the self-employed? We spoke to the city’s top creative businesses and support agencies about what they’re doing for IFB, and what, if any, real opportunities are out there for you to get involved…

Nick Birkinshaw, IFB Cultural Programme Co-ordinator, Liverpool Vision

“My job is to work with the cultural sector of the city region to try to make sure that during IFB, Liverpool is seen to be a place that’s bursting with creative energy with one of the best cultural offers in the world.

“The cultural offer is a key element in the realisation of city’s aspiration to be seen as a distinctive global city, with a very attractive unique brand that’s recognised worldwide as a great place to visit, work, live and — with reference to the IFB ambitions — to invest in. A place with world class arts and artists, that attracts world class acts to it.

“The challenge is to make sure we’re now (and continue to be) seen to be a vibrant, diverse and distinctive welcoming 21st century city”

“We have a fantastic cultural heritage to build on, based on the city’s maritime and trade achievements and position in the days of 19th century Empire, and a worldwide fan-base for our 20th century engineering and technical innovation, pop music & football. The challenge is to make sure we’re now (and continue to be) seen to be a vibrant, diverse and distinctive welcoming 21st century city that never ceases in its efforts to innovate, create and to project a positive image and identity, doing things that that make people want to be here.

The cultural calendar for June and July (fully revealed end January with the new IFB website) that’s already in place has the most extensive programme of events, exhibitions, shows, festivals since 2008, that will show the world what a great place this is for creative activity and as a destination for cultural tourism. Those who’ve taken notice of our recent rating in the Rough Guide places to be in 2014 (Liverpool was recently voted the third top city in the world to visit) won’t be disappointed when they come.

“My practical advice to people and organisations with cultural and creative produce to share and sell is to take notice of the IFB opportunity, be proactive and do something: if you can put on a quality event, no matter the scale, let me know about it (Nick’s contact details here) and I can license it as part of the ‘official’ cultural programme, and we can help to promote it to IFB delegates and the many other visitors and local people who’ll be on the receiving end of a very extensive marketing campaign. If you’re a service provider, get on the suppliers database.

“The core IFB business events programme will also have plenty to offer. If you’re a creative business, you could benefit from attending things like the Accelerate conference, aimed at generating more rapid growth. I’m hoping to work with the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) and The British Council to arrange seminars around export for culture and creative business (tbc – but I’m optimistic that these will happen). Writing on the Wall will be doing an event with a focus on digital publishing – if you’re a writer – be there. Sound City, likewise, is developing a programme around the impact of the digital technologies on the music business.

“The new IFB website is to be launched at the end of this month. Get in there, have a look, sign up. There are bound to be elements that you’ll find interesting, attractive and useful. Creative and cultural organisations are businesses like others – IFB is a chance to show your stuff, to listen and learn, to network, to develop relationships that can have positive legacy.”

Nick is a Creative Producer, Events and Projects Manager, and an Arts in Regeneration & Education specialist. He works for Liverpool Vision.

Amy Jones, Director, The Royal Standard Gallery and Studios

“Any event which brings an estimated 300,000 visitors to the city has the potential to be beneficial for those of us working in the creative sector. While the main programme (and the cost of attending) might not be aimed at creatives, the IFB is actively pointing visitors in the direction of cultural events such as the Biennial and Tate’s summer blockbuster show, so it’s a great chance to capitalise on a swell of creative tourists in the city.

“To make the most of your increased audience it’s important to make yourself and your work extra visible during that period. The more inventive the better, but it can be as simple as holding an open studios or, if you’re not part of a studio, banding together with other artists to put together a showcase of your work.

“It’s a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the grassroots arts community in Liverpool and where it stands in relation to the business community”

“Besides from expanding visitor numbers and getting artists work out there, it’s also a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the grassroots arts community in Liverpool and where it stands in relation to the business community. For example, should it just be Liverpool’s large institutions thinking about corporate funding and sponsorship or is it something to be seriously considered for grassroots initiatives too? With considerable funding cuts in the region, it would be great if IFB inspired some debate around those issues.”

The Royal Standard is an artist-led gallery, studios and social workspace based in Liverpool.

Andrea Nixon, Executive Director, Tate Liverpool

“This will be a very busy summer in the city, with a broad range of exhibitions, events and activities, including the IFB. When major international programmes of this nature come to Liverpool we need to ask ourselves how we can best respond to them.

“In order to maximise the opportunities they present, as a sector we have to be flexible and think creatively about how we can be involved. At Tate Liverpool we have timed the opening of our summer exhibition Mondrian and his Studios and Nasreen Mohamedi to coincide with the festival and to link into its cultural strand. We are also working closely with Liverpool Biennial, which has been programmed to open during the IFB on 5 July 2014.

“At Tate Liverpool we understand the value and importance of collaboration and partnerships; working with IFB gives us the opportunity to appeal to a new audience and also work with the city to discuss and shape new ideas. Events like IFB raise the profile of Liverpool, arming creatives and SMEs with the confidence that they live and work in a city that has a positive and growing reputation across the world  and we hope the creative sector can utililise our programme as a backdrop to their own work during the festival.”

Tate Liverpool displays British and international modern and contemporary art, and hosts special exhibitions and events.

Nick Howe, Managing Director, Uniform

“We see the IFB as a great opportunity to showcase clients and projects, and further enhance our profile among national and international clients. Equally it brings a welcome boost to the reputation of Liverpool and ‘the Liverpool brand’ in a commercial context. It’s the next step in Liverpool being taken seriously as a place to do business, and the reality is that as a city region we still have a long way to go in terms of creating the right kind of jobs.

“Liverpool City Council and the Mayor’s office are once again demonstrating their commitment to positioning the city as a business location. That’s why when we were invited to move Designival to be part of the IFB we were enthusiastic. It was too good a business opportunity for the city’s creative industries.

“It’s about networking, and face-to-face opportunities with the level of people and organisations that are often hard to reach”

“It’s about networking, and face-to-face opportunities with the level of people and organisations that are often hard to reach.

“In my view, there are some long-term benefits; this is about the reputation of a creative city, and moving it forward. But it’s also about moving all of our creative businesses forward. Believe it or not, there are some international experts who still don’t know what we’re doing in Liverpool! It’s a competitive market and we need to take up the mantle of landmark events like this. Better to be ambitious, do one thing well, create impact and build from there.”

Uniform is an independent creative agency, creating brands, content and products. They are co-hosts and co-founders of Designival, the largest design festival in the north.

Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennial

“The International Festival of Business is a global platform with great opportunities for people in the cultural and creative sector to build international connections and begin exciting new conversations.

“Coinciding with the festival is the opening of Liverpool Biennial 2014, 5th July-26th October. The eighth exhibition is curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman. It takes place across the city at venues including public spaces and galleries such as the Bluecoat, FACT and Tate Liverpool. Partner exhibitions include Bloomberg New Contemporaries, the John Moores Painting Prize, Open Eye Gallery and the Exhibition Research Centre, while newly commissioned artworks interact with the urban landscape. There will also be work by artists and curators throughout the city.

“We are delighted to be part of the largest business event in the UK for over a decade, as this presents an unique opportunity to showcase the city’s cultural offer to a new global audience. Creative freelancers and small businesses can benefit from IFB by taking advantage of the enormous networking opportunities presented by the festival; for instance as part of the Knowledge, Creative and Digital themed week commencing 14th July.

“Artists and galleries should also make sure to present an enhanced programme of exhibitions, activities and discussions throughout the festival which address some of the issues and opportunities identified by the event. We’d recommend contacting the festival organisers directly to find out how to benefit from the multiple marketing channels which will become available to Liverpool’s cultural and creative sector.”

Liverpool Biennial is the UKs contemporary art biennial, the largest contemporary art festival in the nation as well as a public art agency.

As told to Laura Robertson

Register your business for the IFB for free, including gaining access to the IFB Hub, free business advice and diarised appointments with specialists, meeting spaces and delegate/visitor info, go to ifb2014.com/businessbrokerage

Running an event during IFB, big or small? Promote it as part of the official cultural programme through Nick.Birkinshaw@liverpool.gov.uk and through the Creative and Digital programme through David Parrish

Meet other creative and digital businesses through ACME Merseyside, an online platform and monthly social, which will also be running special events during IFB. See kin2kin.co.uk

Image courtesy Pete Goodbody

Posted on 16/01/2014 by thedoublenegative