I’m going to say something controversial. I am not totally cut up about IdeasTap closing. There, I said it.
To break it down a little…the website was notoriously difficult to navigate, and despite persistent changes of format it was never user friendly. As a result of this there were a myriad of half finished profiles, and documents/pictures were difficult to upload (particularly in an attractive way that showed them off to their best potential) Also whilst the site was meant to be partly used as a way of networking with other theatre-makers I personally never knew anyone who had done any networking whatsoever via IdeasTap that they couldn’t have done in person, on Facebook, on CCP, stalking (ok maybe not stalking but…you know). The networking element consisted of ‘friending’ someone much like you do on Facebook, with the idea that you could follow their work through their profile. Except no one ever updated their profile. So…it didn’t really work.
I’m not dissing IdeasTap for the sake of it, rather I am of the opinion that it wasn’t the pinnacle of resources for young theatre makers that everyone seems to be making it out to be. I absolutely think there should be more resources for theatre makers to network, have access to opportunities and generally have a bit of a community going but I don’t think that IdeasTap ever achieved this. Surely there is a better way of doing it? Does it even have to be a website?
Funding naturally plays a big part and it’s always sad to see the arts lose financial support. I think this is perhaps why a lot of people are upset about this because it seems to signal even more cut backs on artistic resources with no happy end in sight. However, support for the arts has been dwindling for a long time now with lots of casualties so really we should have got to a point where this isn’t a massive surprise. If you work in the arts you know there is little money in it and whilst there is nothing wrong with lamenting this it’s what you do about it that makes the difference.
The website will cease being online from June and I think instead of complaining or setting up campaigns to keep it going we should look to making something bigger and better, and perhaps something that doesn’t require such a huge injection of funding to keep it going. All young theatre makers want to do is have the chance to network with people because when it comes down to it, that’s what will get you a job at the National Theatre or the RSC, not a profile on a website.
So how about a networking event. A cheap one. In a space in London. With cheap booze (obvi) Invite the big theatre’s, invite the little theatres, invite the young theatre makers AND the old ones. Maybe only a few will turn up but it only takes one connection to get the ball rolling. Instead of an online profile have a REAL profile in the form of yourself…in person…talking to people. What does everyone think?? Whose with me????? (I’m deadly serious about this!)