Gillian Hill reflects on the experience of organizing a brand new conference event on a tight budget in May 2017.
It all started with a burger…
We were not joking when we told everyone that Lindsey, Shelly and I conceived the idea of our Psychology of Creativity event over a burger (it was quite a posh burger!) one lunchtime last November. We were talking about conferences, and lamenting the lack of UK-based events with a specific focus on Creativity – so what was more natural than to decide to organize one ourselves?
Perhaps because we are early career researchers, we didn’t stop to question whether we actually should. Lindsey thought she could access some funding (thank you Napier!), so we simply went for it. We arranged everything via email and Skype, not meeting face to face again until last week. And, to be honest, it felt quite easy – we were up-front about arranging our event on a shoestring, so expectations – both our delegates’ and our own – were managed from the outset.
Worries about selling tickets turned into budget-juggling to meet demand.
We initially wondered if we could sell 20 to 30 tickets, making up the numbers with friends and colleagues we could arm-twist to attend. Ticket sales started out slowly – a flurry of excited messages between us on the sale of our first ticket!
It turns out that getting funding to attend a conference takes time (one of the many lessons learned from this experience), so that many delegates only received the go-ahead to come just as our numbers were reaching a maximum. We re-jigged our budget and our catering to accommodate the increased demand, and ended up with a manageable number of just under 70 delegates altogether.
There is a weird sadness in organizing a conference that you’d actually love to attend!
In the end, the day arrived and went in a blur, others being far better placed to write about it (please do – it will help me to find out what I missed!). I met many people and had many interesting half-conversations that I now want to follow up on.
We planned an event that we would have loved to attend ourselves, so there’s this strange sadness that I didn’t get to take part in much of the networking – particularly the speed
dating information exchange session which proved to be so popular. Come to think of it, maybe I should have submitted or presented a poster of my own research? And it would have been nice to have been able to explore everyone else’s research with them at the time, rather than afterwards via the poster abstracts booklet.
Diverse people and perspectives – a surprising outcome
Having said that, one of the biggest surprises for me was meeting so many people interested in Creativity from beyond Psychology, including those taking an applied perspective. These are the people that I don’t think I would have met had we not organized the event: those with multi-disciplinary approaches, such as applied computing and design researchers and practitioners, sometimes working alongside psychologists.
For me, these provide some of the most exciting opportunities for the future – sharing perspectives, working on conceptual understanding, and combining theoretical and applied approaches. Giovanni Corazza captured this perfectly in his keynote speech, and the range of research domains and approaches in the poster session bears witness to the healthy state of Creativity research in the UK and Ireland.
The way forward … and plans to meet next year
This event was all about networking, building a community and collaboration. We have had amazing feedback from our delegates, and there seems a will to take this forward in the form of an annual UK Creativity researchers meeting.
We have already set up a forum on LinkedIn – one of the suggested next-steps we discussed in our round-up session chaired by Philip Fine at the end of the day – and I would urge all our delegates to join this group. I look forward to continuing the discussions we started here and at future events, and hearing about collaborations forged through this event.
I am therefore thankful that we had the naivety to just go ahead and organize an event, and not think of the numerous reasons why we should not. For me, the buzz of seeing the conference come to life on the day was immensely rewarding. There are lots of things that I will take from this experience, and many more that I should remember, but know I have already forgotten. Here’s to next time!
The Psychology of Creativity: Building Impact, Skills and Collaboration was held at Edinburgh Napier University on May 17th 2017. The conference was arranged by Dr Lindsey Carruthers (Edinburgh Napier) and Dr Gillian Hill and Dr Shelly Kemp (University of Buckingham). For further information about joining the LinkedIn group, please contact UK Creativity Researchers directly; or get in touch with Gill and Shelly via our contact page.