In 2014, House of Verse began as an interactive, immersive installation exhibition which I piloted in my third year at De Montfort University, to attempt to make people find poetry more accessible. It evolved instantly after feedback clearly favoured the live performance element and snowballed over the last 4 years into a great big variety platform welcoming all artforms. It’s been one of those rides that I feel like I don’t remember getting on, I didn’t buy a ticket and somehow I’m 4 years in to a self-started creative business rollercoaster and piecing together a giant unknown jigsaw. Brain deep in managing the breadth of ‘departments’ of an entire business flying solo is certainly quite the voyage. Discovering just how many sides there are to one business has been wildly mind-opening. FYI, I’ve got it down to Admin, Liaison, Marketing, Finance, Web, Design, Business and Logistics.
Yes, you may call me Jellyfish Circus.
Managing so many creative souls rustles up a lot of creative and logistical questions. As I experienced working with more and more artists, I learnt that some people require a lot of information whereas others require far less. Preparation takes a lot of time and throughout my 4 years of experience, I have streamlined the information that I distribute to artists and partners to guarantee that they have received what they need to know and feel comfortable when it comes to the event. I have learnt how vital it is for communication lines to be friendly, consistent and reliable. It is very easy to communicate with a few artists; I started with 8 per show. Now I am in touch with up to 50 artists per show so saving time where I can is paramount to fluid coordination.
There was a while where I lived and breathed House of Verse, all thanks to the Crucible Project at The Innovation Centre, DMU, an entrepreneurial programme offered to postgraduates with grassroots business ideas. It was on this programme during an accounting workshop that I met Mahmood Reza, Business Owner of Pro Active Resolutions. I really appreciated receiving support from Mahmood, he is very down-to-earth and encouraging. I had hoped that our business relationship would not end after the Crucible and we kept in touch. After meeting the terrific team at Pro Active Resolutions’ homely office, a three-year sponsorship deal was drawn up and I felt truly blessed.
It felt so empowering to think that such a successful entrepreneur and his colleagues valued my business!
Since then, I have met monthly or bi-monthly with Pro Active Resolutions and they have supported me in countless ways: figuring out strategies, talking through complicated problems, simplifying numbers, keeping me calm when thinking about scary things like finance and tax.
More things Pro Active Resolutions have helped me with:
- Business planning
- Thinking about the future
- Thinking logically and realistically
- Systems and templates
- Valuing my time
- Quoting up jobs
- Managing professional relationships
- My personal and professional development as a Business Manager
Working with Mahmood and his team feels like a second family; they are warm and personable human beings. As well as being supportive of me as a Business Manager, I really feel cared about on a personal level which is above and beyond what I had expected. Mahmood is a patient powerhouse of productivity and excellent at explaining business jargon. Maybe, one day I’ll be a jargonaut like him.
This is a subject I’ve found to be interesting, and I’ve mainly come across it via frustration. More and more people are using digital means to make music, and DJs are being inundated with the newest tech that can make their mixes/performances even more badass. There are now PGCEs that offer a teaching qualification in music where you can specify your instrument.
And this is where the hurdle starts.
I’ve tried to apply for such courses and roles but they won’t take you on if your instrument is the turntable because *quote* “It’s not a traditional musical instrument” *unquote*… I really do believe the principles and modules of these courses can be applied to turntablism, and I’m sure it has been done as well. Why are we still living in the dark ages when it comes to the curriculum?!
Turntablists have used scores and developed scratches in the same way people have learned piano and guitar. These days, to be brutally honest, ANYTHING can be an instrument.
EVERYTHING is an instrument.
There are videos of women using the water from rivers and seas as drums, link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7ba1CNOLiI
There are videos of people busking using pots, pans and buckets as their drum kit, link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk-q-TBdU4k
The things turntablists can do can be mirrored in traditional music performance, and vice versa. I guess because its original purpose was to be a device in which you play records, people are still having trouble seeing it as a music instrument STILL, even after all the technological advancement we’ve had. It hurts my brain, it really does. Look at the DMCs and what those crazy people can do on some 1210s! :
Regardless, thanks to people like Grandmaster Flash and others, and many more since then, the turntable has ultimately transcended its original role. Youtube is regularly updated with DJs and turntablists showcasing a new bit of kit and/or routine, further demonstrating its versatility.
This blog entry may go on forever, and it could to be honest since this is an area I’m looking expand on in my studies, but all I’m saying is that people need to recognise the no-longer-hidden power and versatility of the turntable, especially now that it’s evolved from simply being a music playing device.
Who are you?
Rich Butnotfamous, wandering wordsmith and mobile hat mannequine.
What is your art?
Difficult to say sometimes, I graduated from D***ington College of Arts in Music, but lost the joy in it about three years ago. I then discovered a love of dance whilst working a festival season, then the following season got inspired by Hibword to take up slam poetry, which I now busk with a menu of some of my poems.
What’s coming up for you?
Two really big things, but some back story first.
I was a chugger for Amnesty International for about a year and used to write my pitches into slam poems, which is how I got my sign-ups. It was the first time I’d found a function for my artwork, it wasn’t just aesthetic words and sounds, I felt like I was serving something bigger than I was.
So now, one of my most recent poems (“A 911 to the World”, released on September 1st at www.richbutfamous.net or you can watch it at the bottom of this post). This is the first poem I’ve written as having function. It communicates an idea as well as serving as an invitation to stand quietly outside governments all over the World on September 11th, and invite a space of peace and forgiveness. Now I’m going to do this dressed as loudly as I can and as much as I’ve become comfortable with attracting attention, I am a little nervous!
The second thing is my ‘Pound a Poem’ service that I started up through my website. You sign up to me and from £1 a month you get access to my two previously published poetry works online (as text and downloadable/streamable mp3s). Every month I’ll email you the title of a new poem which is the password to the site and I post the new poem for you to enjoy!
You can sign up here: http://www.richbutfamous.net/shoppe.html and you can still hear some of my previous work at http://www.soundcloud.com/richbutnotfamous.
I’m always happy to hear of other poets innovating ways of making a living, in a very real sense, and have even heard tell of a door to door poet. So, innovate in your practices by getting some new perspectives and as a performer you can do a lot worse than fundraising, there are lots of transposable skills involved, especially dealing with rejection, so go play! And sign up to me!