The Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research has been asked to organise an unconference event related to the themes of BCU’s annual industry conference, #RethinkMedia. I was hesitant to take up the brief because I have found unconferences that run as sideshows to large corporate events to be problematic (I’ve been doing a little work on this with Jamie Bullock), but I was quickly won around and convinced that we could turn this opportunity into something worthwhile.
The organisers of Rethink (a team that operates across a few parts of Birmingham City University) had a clear and appropriate rationale for delivering an unconference, or rather they had a clear rationale for an event outside of the corporate conference which is the most visible part of their project. Rethink is conceived of within BCU as an umbrella under which conversations can happen amongst three distinct groups, all of whom are engaging with ideas around the future of media and creative industries. The space marked ‘unconference’ was reserved for a conversation amongst aspiring creative practitioners and media workers, and those at the start of their careers (essentially what I would think of as ‘current and recent students’). The term unconference was being used because the organising group understood that to mean an event that is free to attend, cheap to organise, and which might attract an alternative audience to the other public event. I recognise these as some of the qualities of an unconference but I wanted to challenge the group to also think of the ways in which this event might also embody some of the oppositional and alternative qualities of these events.
When I looked at the materials for the main conference I noticed that they spoke about what sort of media workers would be needed by companies in the future, but that the event didn’t provide a space for those future workers to critique that vision. And so we found the theme for the event: the future of media work.
We are hoping to bring together a group of current and aspiring creative industries workers to discuss the future that they want to work within. What will the companies they work for look like? What projects will they be engaged upon? How will they relate to audiences? These are the sorts of questions we hope to engage with on the day.
Media educators and their students are welcome to attend this free event and we encourage you to distribute details to your students. Places can be booked on Eventbrite – booking is essential please so that we can provide adequate facilities and refreshments.
[Pic: CC Tom Blackwell]