Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Setting up a dance company

Many thanks to Liz Clark and Chris Moore - both based in Leicestershire - for sharing their experiences of setting up a new dance company at our seminar at Curve on 8 December.

Liz has co-created 'Turned on its Head' which has a new interactive approach to work for and with under 5s and their parents.

Chris has set up a mid-scale touring ballet company of 14 dancers which has 70 odd touring dates in the UK this year.

Their approaches to research and development of their 'products', raising & managing finances, pitching to venues were really interesting.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Drinks with a difference

The Alternative Bar Crawl is on tonight (Friday 16th Dec) starting at 5.30pm at the LCB Depot, Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RE. It promises drinks and creative entertainment & shopping for all with a retro 1950s feel this time. Well done all those artists who organise it. Our Christmas sweaters are already out.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Desk Space available @ £70 a month

Desk Space available at the Likeminded Building ( 1 Wellington Street, Leicester, LE1 6HH ). I am a Graphic / animation designer currently renting a room from the owner suitable for two people. I am looking for another creative designer to share the space. There is also potential to collaborate on certain projects for the right type of designer, especially anyone 3D based, although willing to share with other likeminded creatives.

The Likeminded building is a friendly place with good facilities ( Internet, meeting room, kitchen etc ) and houses a range creative people.

Feel free to email for more details

t: 07896 633934

Monday, 12 December 2011

Creative Leicestershire December ebulletin

Click here to view the December edition of our ebulletin.

This edition has lots of training, networking and funding opportunities including information on:
  • Curve's Young Arts Entrepreneur Programme
  • A Competition to win workspace for a business or activity in Fearon Hall, Loughborough
  • Artist Commissions for a housing development and Belgrave Health Centre
To make sure you receive this information straight to your mailbox every month, subscribe here

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ruth Singer's Big Idea

Leicester-based textile artist Ruth Singer (a former Creative Leicestershire bursary winner and Made in Leicestershire member) has been shortlisted for THE BIG IDEA, a competition supported by The Leicester Mercury and the Haymarket Shopping Centre to win a free shop unit for a month, a cash prize of £1000 and support from the businesses involved.

Ruth impressed the judges with her pitch to create a Create & Make Workshop in the city to get Leicester sewing and making.  She says:

“I want to run a craft centre where anyone can learn new practical and creative skills and be part of a crafty community.  I want to share my experience as a professional textile designer-maker and author of two sewing books to inspire the people of Leicester to rediscover the pleasure of making things themselves. I aim to run workshops that suit our modern lifestyles with short classes after work, weekend courses for busy people who don’t want to do a 10-week course and daytime activities for kids in the holidays. Sessions range from Learn To Sew to specialist textile crafts which I specialise in, and visiting artists will provide workshops in crafts as varied as jewellery & upholstery. Keen stitchers can also hire a sewing machine by the hour and have space to spread out.

To make the space even more inviting, there will be a small shop of hand-picked books (including my own two), vintage fabrics and patterns and essential haberdashery. My personal workspace will also be located in the workshop to inspire visitors and small gallery area will showcase local textile work. Sewing and making workshops are popping up all over the country – it is time the creative city of Leicester had one.”

Of the 10 entrepreneurs invited to pitch to the dragon’s den panel, only four have got through to this stage. You can vote for Ruth’s Big Idea at from 1st -14th December.

Ruth has over 10 years experience running craft workshops for adults, families, schools and community groups and has worked behind the scenes too as an education officer at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She is also a freelance project manager and author of two sewing books. Ruth’s work can be seen on her website: 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Andrew Tanner - Selling Winning Designs

Andrew Tanner held a great seminar for us last week talking about his career as a designer of contemporary ceramics and the relationships he's built with manufacturers and retailers.

He offered us some useful hints and tips:

  • When at trade fairs:
    • If you're at a fair aimed at wholesalers make sure you know what your minimum order is and be prepared to negotiate
    • Make sure that your wholesale price includes the cost it takes to make the item plus your profit margin
    • Work out the recommended retail price. Buyers will typically use RRP = Wholesale Price x 3. Think about if this is how much your product should sell for?
    • Have a story about your product to sell to the buyer: Why is it different? Why would their customer want it? This is what the buyer will use to sell your product to their customer
  • DO NOT court retailers!!! They will find you not the other way round.
  • DO court the press!!! PR is the key, learn to write good press release and get good photographs. If you're going to spend money on marketing, photographs should be key
  • His book 'Batch; Craft, Design and Product' has an section written by Barbara Chandler, Design writer for the Evening Standard on how to write an effective press release
  • If you only have one option on photography use white crop out images for your work
  • Twitter is great for free publicity and information
  • Places like the UKTI can help you get selling abroad and sometimes have pockets of funding.
  • The BEDG can provide match funding for stands at foreign trade fairs. 

Creative Leicestershire has lots of information sheets on low-cost marketing ideas, writing press releases and getting the public to your stand. Visit our resources section for lots more information 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Running Successful Workshops

Rachel Phelps ran us a really great seminar last week on Running Successful Workshops.

The seminar focused on creating Authentic Learning experiences for your participants. Authentic Learning uses activities were participants learn by 'doing' rather than by listening and uses real-world situations to help solve problems.

She gave us some useful tips and got us to take part in activities that could then be used in our own workshop settings.

Some of the tips she gave us were:

  • Have lots of different activities to help understand how people learn. Some prefer to move around whilst others may prefer to sit at a table.
  • Be prepared to deviate from your plans to fit in with how your participants learn
  • Keep a logbook for what went well and what didn't 
  • Make sure to keep it real for you and your participants
  • Always get feedback and build on it
  • Set out your plan into a learning framework by; 
    • Framing your aim into a question
    • Put it into a timeline
    • Break it down into units/objectives
    • Evaluate and assess the session

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cultural Olympiad Funds Scheme

Leicester City Council are pleased to announce our Cultural Olympiad Funds scheme, a one off funding scheme to provide small-scale financial support for arts and heritage projects in Leicester city that support Leicester's 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme.
If you would like to apply for funds, please complete the attached form and email/post it to us at the contact details at the end of the form, by 29 November 2011.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Guardian Culture Professionals Network

This month has seen the launch of the Guardian Culture Professionals Network.

It contains lots of informative articles, blog posts, live chats and jobs relating to the arts and heritage sector.

It's free to sign up and you will receive weekly updates, event invitations and networking opportunities.

This week it has an article on Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House and advice for people wanting to break into theatre

Find out more and sign up at

Monday, 14 November 2011

County Hall Armed Forces Memorial

Leicestershire County Council is in the process of commissioning a new memorial to commemorate men and women in the armed forces who lost their lives in service since 1945. Creative Leicestershire is managing the commissioning project.

After an initial selection process, which attracted 70 submissions, five artists and designers have been commissioned to produce proposals for the memorial, which will be located in the Quadrangle at County Hall in Glenfield,

The five design proposals can be seen at the LCC website at

A decision on the artist to be commissioned for the memorial will be made in December, with unveiling planned to be in 2012.

All views and observations about the proposed designs are welcome between now and 10 December. There is a response button on the webpage.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Creative Leicestershire November eBulletin is here!

Packed with lots of jobs, information and opportunities for those working or interested in the arts, design and media sector.

This edition has information about:

Workspace and Studio space in Leicester

Funding for training and mentoring opportunties for women working in Radio

Upcoming seminars and networking events from Creative Leicestershire

You can see the ebulletin here but make sure you sign up to recieve the monthly newsletter straight to your inbox

Friday, 4 November 2011

South Asian Dance symposium

The British Arts Festivals Association conference is taking place at Phoenix Square in Leicester this week. And last week, Leicester was host to the national symposium for South Asian Dance, organised by the Centre for Indian Classical Dance. CICD was set up in Leicester in 1981 by Nilima Devi and has a huge legacy of great dancers including the upcoming Aakash Odedra who is currently having a piece created for him by Akram Khan. Great debate and dance was had at the symposium and this is Amina Khayyam doing the welcome dance. She is photographed by Kajal Patel, the Leicester-based photographer who had a bursary from Creative Leicestershire a couple of years ago. Do look at her work at

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Business Structures

Fred, our Business Adviser, did a great seminar on types of business structures at the LCB Depot last night. The session covered all types of profit-distributing and non-profit-distributing structures. Let us know if you want the full presentation, but here's a quick summary of who regulates what sort of business:

  • Sole trader - virtually unregulated (but pays tax via HMRC)

  • Limited Company - Companies House

  • Co-operative - Financial Services Regulator

  • Charity - Charity Commission

  • Charity with Limited Company status - Companies House and Charity Commission

  • Community Interest Company - CIC regulator at Companies House

  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation - will be Companies House (if it comes on stream)

NB Social Enterprise isn't a legal structure in itself

Monday, 10 October 2011

Makers Mart at Curve

We at Creative Leics are co-ordinating Makers Mart 2 - a contemporary art, craft and design fair at Curve theatre, Leicester on Saturday 3 December. We have only 12 stalls available in the Curve foyer, but things should busy with 2 shows on - both with matinees and the Christmas Light Switch On just outside in Orton Square. We are looking for artists/designers with high quality, original and unique work to apply for stands which cost £40. Application deadline is 24 October. If you would like full info please email

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Completing Your First Self Assessment?

The time is fast approaching for submitting your 2010-2011 Self Assessment Tax return. If you are completing a paper return, it must reach HMRC by 31 October. If you are completing it online then the deadline is 31 January 2012. Remember there are penalties for failure to do so and they can be quite hefty

If you are filing your first return, here are some handy tips from our Self Assessment seminar last month
  1. Remember to register as Self Employed - If you are filing for work completed in the tax year 6 April 2010-5 April 2011 you should already be registered as self employed. If you started working in this tax year and haven't registered do so as soon as possible, HMRC can fine you for failure to register as self employed. You can find more information about registering on the HMRC website
  2. Remember to register online - If you want to complete your tax return online, you must register to do this on the HMRC website. It can take up to 28 days for your registration to be activated so make sure you do it in plenty of time.
  3. Pre-trading expenditure -  You can claim for any items you may have purchased in preparation for starting your business as if it was purchased on your first day of trading. For example if you bought a sewing machine 6 months before you started trading as a textile artist, you can claim the cost of the machine in your first years tax return. You can only do this if you have not used it for personal/private use.
  4. Training - You can only claim for training costs if you are developing an existing skill (or CPD). You cannot claim for training to allow you to learn a new skill.
  5. Keep proper records - Make sure you keep a record of all business income and all business expenditure. Keep all your reciepts and invoices with your records. Remember you cannot claim for personal expenses. If you use your phone for business and personal use you can only claim for the business cost of using your phone, the same goes for your internet service.
  6. Working from home - If you work from home you can claim ONLY £3 per week for each week you work from home. This covers your electricity, gas, water, rent etc. You may claim more but only if you can demonstrate that working from home costs you more than £3 per week
For further help on completing your tax return, the HMRC website have lots of guides and information available. You can also call their Self Assessment helpline on 0845 900 0444

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Leicester Arts & Culture – Mayor Debate Part 3

Wednesday 12th October, 7pm

Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, David Wilson library, University of Leicester

Come and debate the role of arts & culture with Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. Much has happened since the first debate back in May 2011:

  • Leicester has an elected City Mayor
  • The launch of the newly elected Culture Board
  • Discussion around Leicester’s bid for City of Culture
  • The disturbances and riots across the UK
  • A commitment to refresh a cultural strategy for Leicester
But what of the future? Is there clarity around the vision for arts & culture in Leicester and how will we deliver in the current economic climate? What are the priorities for the City and how can we work with the Mayor and his team to make the vision a reality? What is missing and what are the frustrations from the sector?

Information about the panel, speakers and format for the event will be announced soon. Demand for the last 2 events has been enormous so reserve your FREE ticket now by visiting

Friday, 16 September 2011

Working with young people?

Creative & Cultural Skills are running some research on developing qualifications for creatives who work with young people. This work comes under the heading 'Developing the Children & Young People Workforce' and comes from the idea that everyone working with children and young people should have a common set of skills. Please complete the survey by end of September at:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Leicestershire County Council's 'Big Society Roadshows' - Autumn 2011

Leicestershire County Council have co-ordinated a series of 7 District-based 'Big Society' Roadshows, which will be held in September/October 2011.

The main aim of these events are to support the principle of ‘Helping to develop the Big Society in your local Community', and will provide information around Leicestershire County Council's Community Forum Budgets, the Big Society Grant Fund and other relevant information for interested community organisations and community representatives.

They hope to encourage community members and community groups to come along to the event in their District, to find out more about what the County Council and its partners are doing to support development of the Big Society.

Further details are also available at

Creative Leicestershire September Ebulletin

See the September edition for lots of opportunities and information for people interested in and working in arts, design and media

Jobs & Commissions including lots of jobs at Curve Theatre

Creative Leicestershire Autumn Events Programme

Funding for activites for young people and vulnerable families in North West Leicestershire

See the full ebulletin for further details and a lot more opportunities

Remember to register and sign up for the ebulletin to receive regular information straight to your inbox

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Embrace Arts: Artists’ Portfolio Day

Saturday 24 September, 10am – 5pm

Learn from the experts at this special day for artists and makers, organised in collaboration with Synapse Arts. Get comments on your work, find out how to promote your art and yourself to galleries and arts organisations, discover the best sources of funding and much more. Plus individual advice sessions bookable in advance with experienced curators and arts administrators from across the region. £5 / £3

Clare will be there on a Creative Leicestershire stand to have a chat and answer any marketing or finance questions from 11am to 2pm.

For more information go to

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Music, vintage, craft & food on Leicester Market

Leicester's Market is branching out on Sundays again with some new themed markets for the autumn. On Sunday 11 Sept the RSA is organising 'Our Leicester Day' to showcase voluntary and community groups. See

On 16 October, 2pm to 8pm there's a music and vintage fair planned under the Love Music Hate Racism banner - with Leicester Market's first live music stage in over 400 years. Book vintage stalls with and any other food, craft, clothing stalls with

Sunday 20 November sees the return of the Winter Food Festival plus Christmas Crafts. Single craft stalls are £20 and £40 and following feedback from last year, will be mixed in with the Food stalls. Download the booking form at

And finally the student markets are on 27 Sept, 30 Oct and 27 Nov.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Creative Leicestershire August Ebulletin

Lots of information and opportunities for people working in arts, design and media. Including:

Jobs & Commissions

Funding for Digital R&D from Arts Council England, NESTA & AHRC

Call for artists: SOCK Fair 2012

See the full ebulletin for for further details and more opportunities

Please make sure to sign up to receive regular information straight to your mailbox

Friday, 5 August 2011

Exposure Live & the Short Cinema Fringe Special

Exposure Live and the Short Cinema Festival are presenting a night of live music, short films and exhibitions this Tuesday, 9th August at 7pm at Phoenix Square, Midland St, Leicester to raise money for LOROS Hospice. The event is also part of the Leicester Fringe Festival. The evening will begin at 7pm in the bar area before hosting live music on stage in the cinema screen featuring The Industrial Jazz Tribune with Mike Sole, Humble He and Elizabeth Cornish, The Daydream Club, Weikie and Chris Conway. The Short Cinema independent film festival will be showing films from the best regional filmmakers from arty shorts or animation to silent films. LoFi Photography will also be there to display prints and projects. Tickets are £4 and include a 10% discount off your first order at the bar - available from Phoenix Square at

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Catalyst Endowments Fund Announced

Catalyst Endowments,, is a £55 million scheme to help arts and heritage organisations secure their long-term financial stability by building endowment funds. Arts Council England has committed £10 million to the joint funding initiative with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Heritage Lottery Fund.

Organisations will be able to bid for grants of up to £5 million to support endowment fundraising from the Catalyst Endowments fund, which will be available to match funds raised from private donors. Bids will be reviewed by an independent advisory panel with around 50 organisations expected to benefit from the grants which will start at £500,000.

Further details of the Catalyst Endowments scheme and how applicants can apply will be unveiled in September 2011 with online applications open in October and decisions on awards expected in early 2012

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Creative Leicestershire July ebulletin is out!

The Creative Leicestershire July ebulletin is now out. It's jam packed with jobs and opportunities related to arts, deign and media including:

A Commission Opportunity from Leicestershire County Council

Call for Entries: World Event Young Artists

Voluntary Arts: Epic Awards

See the full ebulletin, for further details and more opportunities

Friday, 8 July 2011

Perin Towlson Ceramics gets our graduate start up bursary

The ceramicist Perin Towlson who has just graduated from De Montfort University has won our graduate start up award for 2011. Perin creates beautiful decorative porcelain vessels which are on sale via She is showing with a group of DMU graduates at Art in Action in July and her work will be taken to Japan next year as part of the 'DMU to Tokyo' mission. Her pieces are fired twice and highly polished and she's currently working on access to an industrial-strength dust extractor. Any ideas? Perin's website is at

Thursday, 30 June 2011

BBC Peforming Arts Fund

The BBC Performing Arts Fund aims to seek out and support aspiring individuals and community groups who, for reasons of lack of existing support, personal background or circumstance, would not have been able to achieve their greatest potential without the Fund's support or intervention.

Each year the fund focuses on a different artform and run two grant schemes; one for individuals and one for community groups. This year the fund is focussing on DANCE

The Community Dance scheme is inviting applications from community groups that bring their communty together through Dance. The aim is to encourage more participation in, and increase the audience for Community Dance. Deadline Tuesday 12 July

The Dance Fellowship scheme is designed to give upcoming dancers, choreographers and producers a glimpse of the professional world. Dance companies, organisations, venues and festivals from across the UK can now apply for grants to host a bespoke placement for a talented Fellow. Deadline Wednesday 20 July

For more information about the fund and to apply go to

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Public sector commissioning of the arts

Linden Rowley has been doing some indepth work with Leicester and Leicestershire councils on how they can use and commission arts, heritage and sports activity to address the key public sector issues (in health, adult social care, community safety, economic development and for children & young people). If you are a community artist or arts organisation and want to know more about the commissioning process, come along to the free seminar which Linden is running for us at the Leicester Creative Business Depot on 30 June. 5.30pm tea/coffee for 6pm start. Book at

Friday, 10 June 2011

Mentees required

We are looking for emerging artists and arts managers based in our patch who would benefit from a mentor in music promotion; writing; theatre; fundraising or arts management. It's free and applications are required by 24 June. Full info here:

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Degree Show Time

Degree Shows at De Montfort and Loughborough University are both starting next week. DMU will be showing the final work of 795 creative graduates across art & design from 17 to 23 June ( and Loughborough's School of the Arts shows run from 18 to 23 June

On 15 June DMU's Technology Degree Show projects include the making of a game for an iphone; the uses of biometric technology; the design and implications of a compact loud speaker and much more. See

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Zombie Undead - Leicester's first feature film

Zombie Undead - made by Leicester film-maker Rhys Davies of Hive Films - is on general release via Metrodome as of yesterday. Leicester residents will recognise some local landmarks including the Clocktower.

Buy it at Amazon etc or via Hive Films (signed by the director) at

Rhys is running an evening seminar for us on 'how to sell your film' on Thurs 9 June at the Leicester Creative Business Depot. Book a free place at . Rhys has also done a guest blog on Chris Jones' site at

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Arts Mentoring Scheme

We've recently been successful with an Arts Council funding bid which includes funding for a small mentoring scheme for professional artists and arts managers. We are therefore looking for an experienced, enthusiastic, expert practitioner in each of the following areas: music; dance; stage or street performance; writing; design craft; visual art; arts fundraising; arts marketing. The mentor fee is £500 inclusive to cover participation at an initial half-day training session (12 July 2011); a half-day debrief session in January 2012 and at least 10 hours supporting your mentee including at least 3 face to face sessions. Anyone interested please contact me (Clare) on

Thursday, 5 May 2011

May is Craft & Design Month

Craft and Design Month is a national celebration and promotion of crafts across the UK during the whole of May 2011, featuring National Ceramics Week at the beginning of the month.

As part of National Ceramics Week, Made in Leicestershire artist Salsbury Ceramics is organising Ceramics in Charnwood.
This is an open air event in Loughborough's historic market place featuring up to 40 potters and ceramic artists from Leicestershire and the surrounding counties. Stalls include work by ceramics students from the university as well as established local potters and sculptors, plus demonstrations and childrens workshops. Sunday 8 May, 10am-4pm. Loughborough Market place

To find out more about Craft & Design Month and about events happening near you go to

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Culture debate for Leicester mayoral candidates

Performing Arts Leicester (PAL) has confirmed the Mayoral candidates who will attend the Arts and Culture debate taking place on Thursday 21st April. The following candidates have agreed to participate:

Geoff Forse, Green Party
Gary Glen Hunt, Liberal Democrat
Peter Soulsby, Labour Party
Ross Ian Grant, Conservative Party
David John Bowley, Independent
Mohinder Farma, Unity for Peace and Socialism
Rick Moore, Independent
Mu-hamid Pathan, Independent

Titled “Arts and Culture: not the icing on the cake but the main ingredients of a successful city”, the debate will be chaired by Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University and Chair of Leicester’s Cultural Partnership Board.

The event will take place at The Y, East Street, in Leicester on Thursday 21st April at the new time of 8pm. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance by calling 0116 255 7066.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

New ways of funding creative projects

Here are a few new ways of promoting the funding of creative projects which we think are worth highlighting: is a US website which helps you to promote your film project for crowd funding. Make sure you have a niche audience, creative perks and a personal pitch and can promote it yourself. You'll need to get at least 100 visits to get a donation I'm told. Nottingham film-maker Jeanie Finlay talks about her experiences of crowd funding for her film Sound It Out on is a new UK site run by Ed Whiting to enable arts projects to pitch for crowd funding. Rewards could include invitationts to private views, rehearsals, merchandise, signed prints etc. The 12 projects on the site so far have raised £8k but it's early days... the site takes 5% commission. provides match funding for charitable arts organisations. The match funding bit is a bit complicated to us, and its most relevant to limited companies with staff and a board of trustees.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Wayne Anderson's illustrations in Chateau retrospective

Wayne Anderson is an illustrator who has been working away in Leicester/shire for many years. He won the Gold Medal in 1976 for Best Illustrated Children's Book from the Society of Illustrators for Ratsmagic and has had over 50 books published in many languages over the years. A retrospective of his work is being hosted by the Chateau de Belcastel this summer: The Chateau is between Toulouse and Clermont Ferrand and Wayne has produced 100 limited prints of the 'Dragon of Belcastel' to celebrate the exhibition. More info on Wayne (who won a Creative Leicestershire bursary to digitise his work in 2008) on

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Arts Council NPO funding in Leicestershire

Yesterday the Arts Council announced the organisations who have received 3 year funding as part of their National Portfolio from April 2012. There are 9 receiving funding in Leicestershire: Charnwood Arts, Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust, Leicester Print Workshop, Leicester Theatre Trust (Curve), Mantle Arts, Phoenix Arts (Phoenix Square), Richard Attenborough Centre (Embrace Arts), Soft Touch Arts and The Spark Childrens Arts Festival. Leicestershire & Rutland will also benefit from successful regional bids by Nottinghamshire County Council for rural touring (for the Centre Stage programme in Leics/Rutland) and by Dance 4 for dance development work. The Mighty Creatives who are based in Leicester will be a 'Bridge Delivery Organisation' to deliver work with children and young people (rather than civil engineering work presumbly) in the East Mids. And finally the Foundation for Community Dance, also based in Leicester, received funding to work nationally.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Budget implications for self-employed creatives

Fred has done a summary of implications for self-employed creatives of the recent budget: Creative industries: As part of the Budget, chancellor George Osborne listed the creative and digital industry as one of those, along with life sciences, that it planned to protect in order to encourage growth. Intellectual property: The Chancellor said "In digital and creative industries we will improve the intellectual property regime," which looks like a clear indication that more is going to done to protect IP. Tax: The basic personal allowance will rise to £8,105 from April 2012. VAT: The threshold for compulsory registration for VAT was raised from £70,000 to £73,000 annual turnover. Travel: Fuel duty cut by 1p a litre from 23rd March, good news for anyone who uses their car on business. The mileage rate approved by HM Revenue, which applies to sole traders and partnerships using the mileage method, will be increased from 6th April 2011. The rate for the first 10,000 miles will go up from 40p a mile to 45p a mile. Above 10,000 miles it remains at 25p. Business rates: Business rate relief holiday for small firms extended for another year from 1 October 2011. Apprenticeships and work placements: £180 million package for 50,000 additional apprenticeships, and an additional 80,000 work placements for young people. Tax rules: A large package of tax rues will be radically simplified or abolished. IR35 rules (the Revenue’s directive on what constitutes a ‘genuine’ freelance) will not be abolished, but HMRC plans to try to simplify by improving administration. Tax simplification: There will be consultation on combining income tax and National Insurance. That would reduce administration for small businesses, but don’t hold your breath, there is no timescale set for when this might happen, and it will be technically difficult to achieve. Regulations: A moratorium exempting micro-businesses and start-ups with fewer than 10 staff from new domestic regulations for three years from 1 April 2011. New EU regulations will still apply. Health and Safety regulation to be reviewed and simplified. Startups: A new initiative for “Start-up Britain” to help people starting a business will be launched shortly. Film tax: Film tax relief (100% for small budget, 80% for large budget productions) will be re-notified to the EU, to extend approval beyond 2012.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Free Open University CPD Courses

Creative Choices have available online 100 free short online courses, covering a huge range of development needs across leadership, management and personal development.

Created by the Centre for Professional Learning and Development at The Open University, these bite-sized modules are designed to perfectly fit with busy lifestyles, providing you with carefully targeted learning to help you develop new skills and unlock your potential.

These courses have been available over the past year and will end on 31 March, so this is your last chance to have access to these free courses.

Check out their free career courses page for full details on the range available

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Creative England Consultation

Consultation is now open on Creative England's proposed strategic priorities for film for the first year of operation.

About Creative England
The network of regional screen agencies was established by the UK Film Council in 2002 to deliver film culture and nurture talent across the country. Since then, the independent screen agencies have grown and diversified to work across the full range of creative media industries, in many cases attracting significant funding from other sources for a range of projects. Their activity has supported both the ‘screen-related’ sector of film and television, as well as the wider creative industries such as games, digital, new media, design and fashion.

Following the announcement of the abolition of the UK Film Council in July 2010, the Government confirmed continued support for the film and media industry outside of London. The agencies have since been working with DCMS to decide on the best structure of this support, in order to secure a strong future for the UK’s creative industries.

With public expenditure severely constrained, it was recognised that the existing network of screen agencies should be re-configured to provide a new national delivery arm to build creative companies and talent.

On 29 November 2010, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey announced the proposal for Creative England, “a simpler, more efficient structure with an expanded remit to support the creative industries across England.”

Creative England will ensure an England-wide delivery network for film, whilst laying the foundations for a longer-term solution, connecting creative and digital SME’s with national and international markets, public and private funding.

To view the consulation and to respond go to

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Creative Bursary Award Celebration

Some pictures from our Bursary Celebration on 8 March which celebrated all the 125 companies who have been funded through the CL bursary scheme since 2005. Rhys Davies of Hive Films won a final Bursary Celebration Award of £1500 which he's going to spend on new lenses. Nick Dunn of Horus Music also got a highly commended as did instrumental teacher Alice Little. Well done to all. We had such a good time we thought we should arrange another celebration next year....

Vote for Duck in a Bucket Designs

Local glass artist Ema Kelly of Duck in a Bucket Designs and former Creative Leicestershire Bursary Winner, has been nominated for a national Craft & Design ‘Selected’ Award, for the second year running.

After winning Silver in the glass category in 2010, Ema has been put up for the public vote again. With categories ranging from glass to furniture, paper to metal, the scope of designer makers is vast. The quality of design and technical skill is particularly high in these awards due to the strict application process.

A new twist has been introduced to the awards this year. To spice things up, the artists with the most public votes will be sent to a specialist judge for each category. Judging the glass will be Peter Layton, an extremely well know and well established maker who has been glass blowing since the 1970’s.

Ema states “It would be an honour if I could get to the stage where Peter Layton would even consider my work for an award.”

Craft & Design, a vibrant bi-monthly magazine all about British Craft, offers winners free promotion in their publication and online plus the opportunity to take part in exhibiting events nationwide.

“I hope that the awards will help make the general public more aware of the sort of talented makers that are out there in the UK.” says Ema. “Winning the Silver Award last year has been an invaluable marketing tool for me, and I’m really looking forward to the exhibition at the Ferrers Gallery in April.”

You can place your vote for Ema and view her new profile page online at Voting closes on the 31st March 2011. Every vote makes a difference!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Employment in the arts fair - 18 March

We are working with Leicester College/Critical Mass to present a day of guest speakers next week, giving talks and one-to-one advice on how to get ahead in the arts industries. It will be on Friday 18 March at Upper Brown Street (formerly Phoenix Arts) Off Newarke St, Leicester LE1 5TE.

Guest lectures are:
10.00am Where and How to look for Arts jobs (Clare Hudson, Creative Leicestershire)
11.00am Developing a Festival (Geoff Rowe, Leicester Comedy Festival)
12.00pm The Freelance Dance Artist (Liz Clarke)
13.00pm Developing a Performance Company (Esther Simpson, Metro-Boulot-Dodo)
14.00pm Sustaining a Participatory Arts Company (Andy Reeves, Speakeasy Theatre Company)

The event is free - no need to book.
If you'd like to bring a group, please call 0116 224 4081 or email with any enquiries.

New online tools for business

Business Link and HMRC have just released some online guides for SME's to help keep their business records on track. They have been produced in advance of the launch of HMRC’s new Business Record Checks programme later this year, which will impose penalties for significant record-keeping failures.

  • Keeping records for business - what you need to know: a basic guide with a helpful list of where to get more information.
  • A general guide to keeping records for your tax return: detailed guidance on record-keeping covering what type of records you may have to keep, common problems and examples for different types of business.
  • Set up a basic record-keeping system: with examples of spreadsheets and information about setting up a record-keeping system.
  • Find out what records you should be keeping: looks at the records you need to keep and assesses how well you are keeping them. If you are thinking of starting business the tool provides you with a checklist. If you are established it will give feedback and advice on improvements you may need to make.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Free tools for promoting music

Nick Dunn at Horus Music gave a whole host of fantastic tips on promoting your music at his workshop for us last week. Just a few of the free tools/tips he gave were:

  • When recording your music make sure you do a 'radio edit' of some tracks (of max 2 mins 30 secs)

  • Also make sure you have footage of you in the studio or live to put on utube etc

  • Tastemakers such as can help you reach a wider public

  • Make sure you are registered with PPL (for performers) and PRS (for writers) to get any royalties you are owed.

  • Have some regular social interaction with fans/followers live and online via Facebook, Twitter, Ping (for Itunes) etc

  • helps you sell music and merchandising to your fans

  • Get some response to your work at

  • can help you license your music for use in film, adverts, games etc. If you are serious about getting licensing deals look at how the BPI can help (eg. the LA Sync Mission).

  • The Music Managers Forum is a great source of support for managers/record labels.

Many thanks to Nick at

Monday, 14 February 2011

Succeeding in comedy in Edinburgh (& Leicester)

Chris Lander from the comedy promoters Phil McIntyre and Geoff Rowe from Leicester Comedy Festival came to talk to a small, but quality group of aspiring comedians on Saturday at Embrace Arts, Leicester. Both had many hints on how to make the most of performing at Edinburgh and Leicester. Key hints for stand-up and theatre shows included: - Get as much stage time as possible to hone your act before going to Edinburgh. You can often get uppaid slots through social network sites such as Chortle's Open Mic networks and Facebook's many Open Mic networks. - Make sure you have some material online. Increasingly acts are getting agents/bookings because of the number of hits they are getting for sketches and excerpts on Facebook/utube etc - Have followers. People will be more likely to give you a gig or slot at a Festival if you can bring an audience with you. - See Edinburgh and Leicester as a showcase. Audiences are important, but focus on getting agents, promoters, reviewers and other comics to see your show. Leicester Comedy Festival continues until Sunday 20 Feb:

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Time Management for Creatives

Mark McGuinness' session at the LCB Depot went well last night. Here is the link to his ebook on time management: I thought the following exercise was useful: 1) List what you love to do 2) List what others love you to do 3) Look at the overlap 4) See how you can maximise this overlap as much as possible

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Being a Part-Time Creative

Succeeding in a creative career can be a struggle. For some, the only way to achieve their ambitions is by combining their passion for creativity with a second job.
Creative Choices have an interesting article on the 'Part-Time' Creative and offer advice on how to survive as one

Managing the Day Job

Monday, 31 January 2011

Music Distribution Online

On Friday, Andrew Dubber came to talk to a group of musicians/promoters at Embrace Arts about his New Music Strategies theories and here's is a link to his ebook: And he can be found at

At the session, Natalie mentioned the new Leicester Music Collective: and their events and listings service.

We also talked about the merits of: - where you can share music and get feedback - where you can encourage people to invest in your creative projects - which helps artists sell their music and merchandising to fans

Also Nick Dunne of Horus Music is leading a free workshop for us as follows:

Music Distribution Workshop
Wed 16 February, 4pm – 6pm. Garden Room, Leicester Creative Business Depot, 31 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RE
Nick Dunne of Horus Music leads a workshop to discuss any issues around music distribution including contracts, distribution, management, labels, roles of various people and companies, how to deal with piracy, international opportunities, sync etc. Horus Music Limited was established in 2005 and began with its roots firmly in management. Since then the company has expanded with its own label, publishing and distribution company. They are direct suppliers to all major digital stores around the world and don’t use the services of aggregators or other distributors. Book here

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Four technology trends to watch in 2011

This came through the email today; it looks at how IT will affect business this year and what new technology could give you an advantage

1. It’ll be easier to run your business using free services
Paul Lewis is head of marketing at
MOO, an online printing firm that specialises in business cards. He thinks 2011 will be the year of “freemium” tools, which offer a basic service free and charge for more advanced functions.

“Freemium tools such as project management service Huddle and online backup tool Dropbox will gain more awareness,” he says. “They help new companies take the first steps, whereas before people didn’t know how to do those things or couldn’t afford the outlay.”

Lewis also thinks it could become easier for businesses to start accepting card payments. “In the US there’s a company called Square that lets small businesses accept credit card payments remotely,” he explains.

“You get a free gadget that plugs into a smart phone or iPad. You don’t need a business bank account and it’s ‘plug and play’ ― so anyone can start selling at events and on the road.” Square is cagey about its international expansion plans, but it could be a sign of what’s to come.

2. Quora will be the social media star of 2011
Quora is essentially a cross between Twitter and Yahoo Answers,” says technology and PR blogger Phil Szomszor. “From a business point of view, it provides exciting possibilities.

“It’s a great opportunity for businesses to answer questions in their field of interest and demonstrate their expertise. I’ve also noticed journalists using it to source information, so it could be a good way to find PR opportunities.

“Companies could also use Quora to offer customer service ― for instance, by responding to questions and complaints as many already do with Twitter. However, the challenge is how to integrate it with other customer service channels and distinguish those people who really want help from those who just want to vent.”

3. Potential customers will expect you to respond immediately

“As smart phones become even more common and more people use the internet on the move, mobile commerce will become embedded in everyday life,” predicts David Hill, chairman of small-business phone company Cloudnet Telecommunications Ltd.

“As a result, customers will expect information to be available instantly. Whenever they think of a question, they will expect their iPhone or iPad to answer it, there and then. So in order to succeed, businesses must be geared up to provide fast responses which are specific to each individual customer’s query.

“For example, if your customer wants a black computer that runs silently and has a one terabyte disk, you’d better make sure that exact computer comes top of the results when they search for it on your website. And if they can access the details on their phone, that’s all the better, because they might be checking out online prices while visiting high street retailers."

4. You won’t pay for software in one lump sum
Ciaran Kenny is managing director of
Macnamara, an IT services company. “In 2011 we’ll start to see the elimination of upfront software costs,” he says. “We’ve already seen companies reduce onsite servers in favour of cloud computing. Now we’ll start to see businesses moving their desktop software — like Microsoft Office ― into the cloud too.”

This means that instead of paying a hefty fee to purchase software, you’ll pay a small monthly charge to access it over the internet.

“Everyone’s watching how Microsoft decides to sell Office” explains Kenny. This software includes Microsoft Word and Excel and currently costs around £400. “I think we’ll see them switch to a model where it costs about £10 a month for each person in your business,” he continues. “When in 2011 that’ll happen is anyone’s guess, but I think they’ll have to do it.”

What do you think of these trends?

Macmillan Cancer Support - Soul Feathers

Leicestershire based Indigo Dreams Publishing have published an anthology to aid the work of Macmillan Cancer Support. Soul Feathers is 280 pages and retails for just £11.00. It has received support from many high profile names and contains work from Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Bob Dylan, Maya Angelou, Benjamin Zephaniah, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Olds, Philip Gross and many others. Soul Feathers is being distributed by Central Books and can be purchased from www.indigodreamsbookshop/soulfeathers or any book retailer. It is currently in the Top 10 Bestselling books in the Poetry and Drama list at Waterstone’s. Further information

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Creative Sole Traders set to rise

We have just published a report on self-employment in the creative sector which was co-commissioned with the Arts Council. Key findings from the report show that creative sole traders make up 31% of creative sector businesses in Leicester & Leicestershire as well as nationally. This compares with 17% sole trader businesses in the construction sector and a suprisingly high (to me) 32% in financial services. The report shows that self-employment in the creative sector is set to rise, and that creatives find it harder to make the transition to employing people than those in other sectors, it also shows that over half of creative sole traders have significant social as well as economic outcomes from their work. For the full report please see

Monday, 24 January 2011

Trend Prediction

Following the seminar led by Helen Howe at the LCB Depot last week, here are a few links which may be useful if you design and/or make anything which is influenced by trends (fashion, jewellery & accessories & anything for home interiors):

WGSN is the leading online trend-analysis and research service providing creative and business intelligence for the apparel, style, design and retail industries – however a subscription is very expensive for the sole trader and nothing is given away for free.

Trendstop and its blog
A slightly cheaper trend forecasting and analysis service. They also have a mobile application called Trendtracker which you can download here:

Trend Bible
Trend predictors and research consultants who tend to focus on home interiors and cross over into food, packaging and other non-fashion areas. Lots of interesting links on their blog.

Print & Pattern
A UK-based blog that celebrates all aspects of printed surface pattern including textiles, cards, gift wrap, stationery, wallpaper, tableware, books, illustration.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Comedy Festival Preview

Saw the bestComedy Festival Preview show so far (in our view) at De Montfort Hall on Friday with highlights of Terri Alderton and Andrew Lawrence.

We are promoting the Life After Edinburgh event (for performers) at Embrace Arts as part of the festival which will be useful for all performers. See