Monday 12 November 2012

How to recognise and how to create a Creative Café

Recognising it
A creative café is above all else a café. It isn’t a pub and it isn’t an arts centre, though it may be licensed and it may be within an arts centre. It must sell good coffee and other good things that go with a good coffee. If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, the café is a Creative Café.
Are people reading literature there?
Is literature available in the café?
Is there a sense that you can sit here for as long as you like over you cup of coffee?
Are people creating new worlds as they sit and chat?
Does the café organise book readings, book launches and creative workshops?
Is there artwork on the walls that is either for sale or celebrates local artists?
Does book-crossing happen?
Does the café promote arts events? 
Is there ever any live music?
How to turn your local café into a creative café
Sit in there to read or write.
Drop off a few of your books – whether to give away for free or to be sold by the café, sale or return, at a small profit.
Hold your arts meetings there.
Negotiate with the owner that you’d like to use this as a work space though promise you will make a certain number of purchases in a certain amount of time.
If the venue is suitable, organise a book event there.
Talk to the owner/ manager about using the walls as gallery space. 
Just book-cross.
Take in leaflets about your own events and others you find interesting.
Ask if the cafe has an entertainments license and hook up with musicians you know to perform there.
See also posts on this blog about Writers in Residence, speed-dating and Literary Salons.
Write a review for this site
Where the café is and what does it serve?
Which creative café activities does it offer?
What is its most striking feature? 
Describe your event there.
Can you supply a photo?  
Send your review here.            

Thursday 1 November 2012

Expansion of the Creative Café Project

We’re forcing a period of growth right now – well someone has to. We have a few plans afoot.
New web site 
We’ve taken the old Creative Café Project web site down and we’re going to be putting up a brand new one soon. We hope to make this searchable. In the meantime we’re using this blog as the main form of communication.  We’re aiming for:
Getting more cafés involved
We want to find more and more cafés worldwide who will take part in the project. This will mean more administration but we will allow cafés to self-register or other people to register for them. We’d still keep some control in vetting registrations before they went live.
Increasing income
We want to do this without charging cafés, creative practitioners and the public a fee except for when we provide a service other than what is just part of the Creative Café Project’s ethos.  For example, we might charge a fee for a speed-dating session. This would not aim to make a profit but if it did, that could be donated to the Project. It would normally just cover costs.
We want to raise further income:
·         Through donations
·         Sales of the Best of CafeLit
·         Fund raising events
·         Ethical, appropriate advertising
Employ more people
We want to get enough people working on the Project so that it works properly. These people shouldn’t be working for no return. The return could be in kind but we’d like to put this on a proper business footing. Except: we’re not really a business. We don’t want to make a profit. We’re in effect a social enterprise. Any surplus to expenditure would go into creating something new within the Café.
This is about building up and contrasts with the dumbing down that is going on presently.             
Encouraging involvement of cafés
Many café owners / managers and creative practitioners are doing what they do well and that maintains the spirit of the Creative Café project. We’d like to set up a system where they can share ideas more with each other and mentor those newer to the project.    
And coming soon
Free competition to find the first Creative Café Project artist in residence. Watch this space.