Caper has been changing over the last few months, and I have some big news to announce: I’m leaving in March 2014 to become Planning Director at digital agency Friday.
Caper will carry on going strong without me – focusing on making change happen through developing organisational strategies, designing R&D labs and producing digital prototypes. Katy will be at the helm, working with our team of associates, and you should hire them straight away: they’re some of the smartest people working at the intersection of art and technology. Caper programmes and projects are often copied but, I’m proud to say, rarely bettered. The team will carry on changing the way the UK arts and cultural sectors understand the digital world, and I’m really excited to see what they do.
This comes after three brilliant years of running Caper with Katy (this is what we did in 2013). We’ve achieved a lot in this time – much more than can be documented here. While we can write-up projects such as the influential technology residencies Happenstance, the prototypes we’ve produced for clients such as Radio 3 and the RSC, or the innovation labs we’ve run for Kings’ Cultural Institute or the University of Leeds, we haven’t been able to document all of the meetings we’ve had with funders and policymakers, the strategies and funding bids we’ve written, or all of the talks and workshops we’ve run.
There is much to be proud of with Caper. It’s not just about delivering work with and for clients: it’s also about making stuff happen. It was this spirit that led us to launch Articulate last year, the Lanyrd-supported directory of women speakers. Building on great work by Playful organiser Greg Povey, there are now more than 700 female speakers listed, with specialisms from marine biology to game design. There’s still lots of work to do, but Articulate is a step in the right direction for helping to make industry conferences and events just a little bit less male-dominated.
We’ve also worked hard to create a culture we could be proud of, and as a part of this we’ve tried to abide by these principles:
– Pay people for their time – and pay them a fair rate, on time.
– Be open and collaborative about our findings, and share them with anyone who’s interested.
– Credit things that have gone before us, or that have influenced us.
Staying true to these principles has been one of the most difficult things we’ve done, but it’s allowed us to grow a brilliant team of friends, collaborators and associates.
It’s true that running a small business can be very tough. We didn’t start Caper to be “entrepreneurs” – we did it because no one else was doing the work we wanted to do. Like our friends at Hide&Seek, there are times it has been financially and practically difficult to sustain our activities. Being an SME that also delivers grant-funded work for the Arts Council is incredibly tough to manage, but it’s great that in just three years Caper projects have influenced initiatives such as Lighthouse Studio, British Council’s Culture Shift and Broadway’s exciting Near Now programme.
Lastly, I’d like to thank some of the people I’ve had the chance to work with over the last three years: as well as our great clients, we’ve worked with some brilliant associates and freelancers to deliver projects, including Leila Johnston, James Jefferies, Nat Buckley, James Bridle, Tom Armitage, Tim Wright, Dean Vipond, Lauren Parker, Linda Cockburn, Sophie Sampson and Beckie Darlington.
But enough looking back! Here’s to the future of Caper.
Rachel Coldicutt was a founding director of Caper with Katy Beale, 2011-2014.