‘Every connection I made to industry during my time at University I made through Chitter Chatter, I believe it was the best way I could spend my time to help out my degree class and raise money in the process. Here’s my ‘How to…’ for future Chitter Chatter-ers!’
First of all, you need a good list of people to contact. Studios, Graduates, Freelancers, Tutors etc… Try to find a variation of people around the UK as the whole course isn’t from one place. Then you need to divide the list up, the most wanted in the first set of 5, then so on and so forth. If you’re stuck ask the tutors for suggestions or people they know, Carol knew George Simkin, the ex students are ones that the tutors recommended.
Get a timetable sorted, check all of the years timetables so you know what slots you can offer if/when someone gets back to you. Usually Wednesday afternoons are best but don’t expect anyone who does sports or societies to be able to attend. When you have your timetable sorted try and organise the talks around loans/grants, if you organise a talk the week before a term break nobody is going to come, everyone is all living off 20p noodles and pasta, same goes for deadline weeks.
It’s just not going to happen.
Now, onto the fun bit. Writing the email! You need a general template (SHOCK HORROR, I KNOW) introducing yourselves as Chitter Chatter (first paragraph), what your aim is and how you expect to achieve it. Don’t be too serious because nobody is going to be interested in a strict formal email, you’re students. Use it to your advantage. The second paragraph needs to ask them personally, you need to research the person you’re contacting. If you’re looking at a specific studio but don’t know who to contact call them, ask who would be best to speak to and get a name/email address. It’s the same as apply for placements nobody is going to respond to ‘to whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Then you need to highlight a piece or pieces of work you liked/were inspired by and why you want them to come visit. Get the tutors to check the template before you start sending it off.
Don’t forget to sign off, the template as a whole, then whoever replies to the email needs to give their name not just:
‘The Chitter Chatter Team
Name, Name, Name, Name…’
And someone had better get the email hooked up to their phone, nothing like missing an email from 3 days ago because nobody bothered to check it.
The timeline for emails usually starts with sending the initial one, then give it… three to four days, and if nobody has replied resend the email. A week after that just call them. If they’re not interested don’t take it personally.
Get a template set up for Tickets/Posters and keep them somewhere safe usually a black and white template printed onto coloured stock seems like the best way to go. It worked smashingly for us!
Ask if they are willing to offer portfolio surgeries to the students. Get timings so ‘I’ve got two hours free before/after’ means eight surgeries. Someone needs to be vigilant about it, if you know someone is a talker put him or her at the end so they don’t cause someone else to miss their slot.
Get rooms booked ASAP when you have someone confirmed, nothing like not being able
to find a lecture theatre the week before, also someone needs to know how to work the system/lights/microphone/mac set up. Make sure when conversing with your guests to confirm if they’re bringing their own laptop etc…
You can offer to pay for travel or lunch to thank them for there time due to it being for fundraising purposes, some people aren’t going to be up for that, don’t take it personally they’re arseholes and clearly don’t recall being a student and trying to organise their own shows.
Now, selling tickets. As you know we we’re a proper pain in the arse last year and you think its bad when we came in and you put your heads down in the ‘fuck that’ sorta way, welcome to having to sell them. It’d even worse. ESPECIALLY when you go into first year and see the tumble-weed blow across the room. Here’s a few tips to make it less painful.
– First years, scare them shitless.
Next year they’re going to be in second year and having to start picking up the ball as second and third year basically support the show with fundraising. How do they expect anyone to support them if they won’t support you? It will be their turn sooner than you think.
– Second years, bribery.
This usually works, offer some portfolio surgeries around as Philippa who she thinks would benefit from them, usually wait towards the end of the year to sort out surgeries for them as you know how late you guys got around to sorting out portfolios. We’re gonna be in industry before you. Think of the placements we could get you on, the contacts we will know.
– Third years, yes third years.
There will be many who just won’t buy tickets’ Keep a list of your year and who buys tickets for what. This way at the end of the year the shitlist will be the target when you haven’t raised enough and trust me you could always use the extra £30 here and there. It’s those people you will be going to, to cough up cash. Don’t sign anyone up for surgeries unless they’ve already bought a ticket either.
Basically get someone in, every day to get around all the classes.
Ask Creative advertising, fine art, the MA programme etc…
On the day, you’re gonna be nervous as shit, I know myself and the rest of my team were. What if something goes wrong, what if nobody bought tickets etc… you always need to have a backup plan. I had to move a talk into a studio last minute because nobody had bought tickets. I told the guest that it was due to technical difficulties, it wasn’t it was due to all the years being SHIT. But, send your mobile number to your guest, figure if they’re coming via train or driving (you can organise parking for those driving just ask Barrie). Meet them and bend over backwards for them. NETWORK LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER, you never know who they know. Make sure they have water for the talk and have an organise plan for what’s happening, find out if there is anything they want to do whilst in Lincoln and just talk to them, they’re a person just like you and don’t freak out. They were students once too. At the end of the day whoever leads your team needs to meet the guest and one other. The other two needs to make sure the lecture theatre is set up and then sorting out tickets etc…
Introduce the talks, give a few details and thank everyone for coming, you do really appreciate it and apologise for being a pain but, tough shit because you are going to be back! Let them know about other upcoming events whether it be RGB or another talk or quiz night etc…
Finally, after the talks and the goodbyes have been said. Keep in contact, let them know how the fundraising is going invite them to the show they might not come but hey you tried.
I loved doing Chitter Chatter, it was the highlight of my year even though it made me ball my eyes out with frustration more than once. You become a key part of your show team due to the work you are going to do. Fundraising is bloody hard work so don’t be scared about asking others to help, its their show too.
Check out my post on our Chitter Chatter’15 talks here!