Post redundancy, I had (alongside another colleague) the idea to start a business. Long story short, I was left a little uninspired by the support I received and the tick box like criteria that was applied to working out if I was suitable for the, at the time “Go for It” grant to start a business.
For anyone who recognises the words “Go for It!” grant, happy days. For those who don’t - it’s a NI based grant. Heads up - I wasn’t suitable for the grant as I didn’t live in a neighbourhood renewal area. - Okay, fair enough. Perhaps...
However credit where credit is due - the uninspiring nature of those tick box chats led to the birth of the idea of Startacus - a place where someone with just an idea can get all the inspiration and information they would need to ‘do something with that idea’.
Nearly three years on, we have evolved.
I say ‘we’ because Startacus employs people - people in Northern Ireland.
I am admittedly not a local, but having lived in Derry / Londonderry / Doire / Ireland / NI (you get the gist) for over ten years I feel an affinity with the place that is not just about the tax that I pay and the news that I hear. The people make this place - through their craic, silliness, banter and all round helpfulness.
Which leads me on to the Arts Council of NI - currently facing cuts (is it not a little too late for cuts?) who after getting passed all the criteria and tick boxes, supported us in developing Startacus. They supported us via the Creative Industries Innovation Fund and in turn I think it is time we supported them.
Facing £1 Million worth of cuts - the Arts Council NI guys have started a #13pForTheArts campaign to stop the cuts.
13p per week for all the tax payers in NI would mean that those cuts don’t have to happen. Admittedly, perhaps this is where the Arts Council are missing out - they don’t need 13p from us all - they need the NI Executive to find the equivalent of £1 Million elsewhere. Less mayor dinners, less trade missions to ‘everywhere’, less bureaucracy, less tick box meetings to fill in tick boxes, to arrange more tick box meetings, but doing very little else, and so on…
Startacus started from, and is based in Northern Ireland. Our biggest audience may be London and elsewhere, but our initial one-to-one audience with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, led to its formation and growth.
The Executive at Stormont should remember the arts doesn’t just draw trees and act as trees, it grows them too - from small acorns oak trees grow and all that jazz…