We’ve made it through Christmas, past winter solstice; it can only get sunnier from here right? 2017 was our year to launch monthly feature ‘Spotlight On’, and we’ve been lucky to speak to some creative and inspiring individuals to mention a few: Space @ 61, Nina Baxter, Only Girl Music and Casilda’s Nice Things.
This month we have got a double whammy, kicking off with independent community arts project FEATUREDIN:15. Here we talk to Maya and Helen about what they think celebrates a fabulous mix of creative talent in South East London.
Tell us about FEATUREDIN: 15….
FEATUREDIN: 15 (FF) started as a kitchen table idea between us in May 2017. We both wanted to create an evening made up of our favourite parts; interesting stories and a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine. Our attention spans are quite limited so we thought ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if we got a mix of people to speak in fifteen minutes about an interesting project?”; that’s when we came up with the name ‘Featured in Fifteen’ everything came together from there.
FEATUREDIN: 15 The Concept
We sat and thrashed out ideas around ‘what would be our perfect night out?’ the answer was – an evening of interesting talks from various local curators, a drink with friends and a venue that we didn’t have to travel the earth for. We have a genuine respect for TED talks and so the idea of providing an audience with more than one speaker (with a drink in hand) in a considered time frame (15 minutes) felt like an interesting challenge for us… so that’s when Featured in Fifteen came to life.
Has it always been your plan to create a joint venture?
We always talked about working on a project together as we have been friends for 10 years; we always knew that combining our passions would have a great impact. We are both Londoners having grown up and lived in South London and we’ve always felt very passionate about the community we live in. Maya ran a local children’s group in Forest Hill for four years and that’s where we met. The unsettling events of last year (terror attacks and Grenfell) pushed us to feel compelled to do something in our local community that would be uplifting and hopefully leave people feeling inspired. There is a sense of positivity that our events bring even when tackling difficult subjects like depression or anxiety. That was always the goal to generate a positive and supportive feeling within our local community.
What does a night at FF look like?
The great thing about FEATUREDIN: 15 is that it has FFlex! (we never thought that FF would become such a big part of our voice!) and up until now we have been providing talks held in the evening at the Signal pub. However this year we have lots of different ideas to keep audiences interested in our content and go beyond our own comfort zone.
We have a female centric feature on the 18th of January as it is 100 years since women got the vote, so we felt it was a perfect time to celebrate women. We always wanted to host a charity event; we have a friend who has stage 4 bowel cancer so the ticket proceeds of £10 per person will go towards the funds that Pip is raising for her cancer treatment. Pip will be a feature speaker sharing her story and raising awareness. The theme for January is Cure & Cause, we give the evening a theme as a way of interlacing the diverse speakers, along with Pip we have 4 other women who have in their own ways found a ‘cure ‘ for something in their personal live or social issue or ’cause’. The event will host: Gabby Edlin Founder of Bloody Good Period, Alice Gartland – A Lotus Rises, Mayoni Gooneratne, Dr Mayoni The Clinic and Bex Band – Founder Love Her Wild.
What does a regular day look like for you?
We are extraordinarily good at multitasking as we both have business that we are integral to, so our FF FFunctioning (!) starts at about 6am. We send each other morning thoughts (if you could only see the amount of Whatsapps between us!), we of course have to prioritise our businesses and get our kids to school but somehow we manage to orchestrate our days so that we can spend at least 4 hours a day on FF content. This will involve a lot of coffee and talking about what is going socially, politically and what resonates with us personally. There is a natural progression to then creating the theme that supports our feature content. We use social media not only promote FF but to find our features, so effectively we spend a large part of our time starting conversations with strangers, we then schedule meetings with features and spend time creating digital content as well as for our printed programme that goes out locally.
What’s the criteria to be featured?
We spend a lot of time thinking about our content and we work instinctively; this is the magic that is the slightly intangible part that we love. We have to choose the features as they have to own their 15 minutes; our evening is unscripted, un-rehearsed, this is what makes us different as we have to build a relationship with the features for this to work.
We always aim for four to five features but we will have been in touch with probably about 10 people prior to working on the final features that come together collectively to create an inspiring evening.
What has been the most memorable moment since you started?
There are many because we meet so many amazing people. It has to be the audience reaction to our first FF. It was so overwhelming to have our idea be so passionately embraced. Seeing a room full to capacity was humbling and we know we couldn’t do this without them, they are the most important features.
What does 2018 have in store for FEATUREDIN: 15?
2018 has already started with FFantastic ideas to grow the project. We are thinking beyond just an evening event of speakers… all will be revealed soon. What FF has shown us is that together we can create something pretty awesome. We love working together and we are pushing ourselves to think differently and provide experiences that go beyond expectations.
What one piece of advice would you give to others wanting to start their own project?
We had to step completely out of our comfort zones to even think this was possible. Don’t be afraid of failure. Just don’t let it cost you too much. A very good friend shared his advice by saying ‘If it wasn’t hard work, everyone would do it’. Don’t go it alone if you can help it. The power of two minds is always stronger than one, we couldn’t do this without each other and our mix of skills and personalities is the combination that works.
What are your favourite spots in #SELondon?
We try to meet all our features in spots around Forest Hill. The Tea Pot is a firm favourite. The team are so incredibly friendly. They never have an issue’s with us placing our FF programmes, flyers or feature finds (yep you’ll always find a free ticket in there!!) Also we love Brown & Green cafe in Mayow Park we like to grab a coffee and walk round the park somehow walking sparks some of our best ideas!
Thanks Helen and Maya!
#SELondonBlog OVER AND OUT