OpenSpace news

We're pleased to welcome Blue Masque Theatre to the co-operative. Blue Masque is a new ensemble touring theatre company, with the mission of bringing good theatre to thirsty people.

This Spring, we're sad to say goodbye to long-term and founder member Hannah Berry from GAP Unit. Hannah is busy working hard on her PhD and hopes to return to OpenSpace when it's all completed in 2012. GAP will still maintain a presence at OpenSpace through Ruth Rosselson, who is an associate of the organisation and who will continue to deliver work for GAP as and when it comes up.

OpenSpace has been represented at two events this Spring. Ruth Rosselson went to talk to student entrepreneurs about setting up a creative business on 28th February and also represented OpenSpace on a panel at a Creative Co-ops conference organised by Co-operatives UK.

This February also saw OpenSpace's first Show & Tell. As a hard-working bunch with busy schedules, we don't always get the chance to get together as a group. We decided that having a monthly Show & Tell was a good opportunity for some office socialising and networking, as well as a great opportunity to let share ideas, projects and inspiration.

Not just for OpenSpace members and tenants, anyone can come along and showcase a project, website, link or video. Our next Show & Tell will take place at 1pm on Thursday 24th March. Email info@openspace.coopto find out more.

News from our members

Andrew Chiu: Since the last newsletter I have completed work on a couple of illustration jobs on The 99 which, to quote the publisher, is "the world's first superheroes based on Islamic culture and society." I think there were some redraws in the final editorial stage as I'd made the characters too sexy! I'm currently working on some samples for an American publisher in the hope of getting a commission on a series of children's books. I'm pitched against another illustrator (boo!).

Fink ON Fink On Theatre are in the early research and development stages of The Manchester Project - a 3 year project to produce plays set on the back drop of important social event that have made their mark on Manchester. These pieces will take place across the city.

Jonathan Atkinson, Low Winter Sun All my projects seem very busy at the moment! With the Carbon Co-op we're working to create a Carbon Savings Society to help fund housing retro-fits in Greater Manchester. I've got a couple of marketing jobs on the go including a website for Unison North West. Also, in April, two projects I'm involved in, Single Cell and Operation Farm, are putting on BandStand, a celebration of food and local music at the bandstand in Hyde Park (Tameside).

Luke at is live! It's a vast on-line image repository of weapons and the arms trade used by people from Amnesty International to Mark Thomas. Drupal 7 also came out recently, so this month we have been actively developing an online file-management system for a company who specialise in sustainable social and economic development and resource management, as well as redeveloping the site for the Business Taskforce on Accessible Technology. Feel free to visit for more information.

Michael at Orange Tree Digital: I'm mostly working on:

  • delivering the new Ethical Consumer website
  • building a new Drupal site for
  • SEO and conversion optimisation for,
  • the launch marketing of, online study courses for nurses

Polyp: My main project recently has been an article for New Internationalist magazine about the politics of conspiracy theories- due out in March. In the article I'll be 'outing' a conspiracy illustrator, who I've discovered is a holocaust denier. I've been pursuing him for a while now, as his more 'reasonable' work keeps popping up on friends' FB posts, pro Palestine sites etc etc... basically I've been 'policing' my patch against Neo nazi propaganda.

Myself, NI and the local Skeptics Society are staging a spin off debate from this article, speaking against the local 'We are change' group. Again, I hope to reveal some of the sickening links to far right ideologies that lurk at the fringes of the conspiracy movement. The debate is on Wed 23rd March, 7pm, at the conference suite of the MMUnion. Anyone who wants more details, should feel free to email me

Ruth Rosselson: A highlight so far has been seeing the community researchers I helped train last year present their research to an audience at the Take Part final conference in Salford. The conference was stimulating and lively, with participants particularly passionate about the upcoming cuts to public services and the Government's 'Big Society' programme. In terms of current work, I'm just about to embark on the final evaluation report for Co-operatives UK Greener Together project, which finishes in March 2011. As a bulk of my work for the past year has come from this project, once the report is finalised, I'll be busy furiously networking and trying to source new clients.

Sarah at Advice UK: I've been working with advice centres in Knowsley and the local authority on working together, and future commissioning of advice services, also meeting with the local MP to discuss the future of free legal advice at a national level. I also recently delivered a workshop to 20 organisations in Yorkshire on Fundraising Strategy and Tools. This is especially relevant as the combination of cuts to local authority funding, which are being passed onto the voluntary and community sector, and cuts to national funding streams such as Financial Inclusion Fund, are putting the availability of access to free legal advice on debt, housing, benefits and employment at serious risk.

Time management tips

OpenSpace members have such a wide range of experience that we thought we were in a unique position to collate some of our personal top tips and advice to people working in similar industries. Good time management is essential for everyone – whether they're working for a large corporation, or are a sole trader. However, freelancers and small businesses face particular challenges when it comes to time management, especially those of us working on different projects simultaneously. So, here are our 'top tips' for time management.

Jonathan: As a freelancer with many different projects on the go I have to work very hard to keep my time segmented. I only check emails and answer the phone at certain times of the day as communications seem to be the biggest distraction. Meetings break up the day so I try to keep Mondays and Fridays free so I can concentrate on getting work done. I also try to start the day with a relatively simple, achievable task, that way you can quickly feel you've got something done and get into the working rhythm.

Luke: To keep track of tasks we have an action-points system which we developed in Drupal so that any action-points from meetings, or just general tasks we need to do, can be easily entered, assigned, viewed, commented and completed. To keep track of time and budgets we keep budget spreadsheets and we also utilise GroupWare for time-sheets so that at the end of any given day it is possible to calculate the remaining budget on any given project.

Michael: For managing my hours and deadlines I find the simplest methods are best. I use two whiteboards (they don't break down); one for monthly planning where I also keep a tally of hours worked on different projects, and another showing my to-do list and deadlines. For detailed project management my tool of choice is Excel, when I'm out of the office I use 'stickies' post-it notes for the desktop.

Sarah: As I'm out of the office so much, ensuring that I factor in catch-up time is essential! I use Outlook to block out time and try to avoid checking emails during these times. Also, setting up an email group among a small number of colleagues means that I can tap into their expertise and save myself research time.

Ruth I do find writing lists an important time management tool. As well as having a list of what I want/need to achieve each week, I break this down into daily to do lists to ensure that I meet all my deadlines and don't get distracted by less urgent, but more interesting tasks. I also have a system, which I periodically employ, involving getting lots of 'quick wins' done on a Monday. These are the essential administrative tasks that I tend to otherwise put off. If I assign time on a Monday for them, I not only get them out of the way, but also start the week off feeling that I've already accomplished something.

OpenSpace is a co-operative for small organisations and freelancers working in the creative, environmental or social enterprise sectors.
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