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Semi-Permanent Brisbane 2009

Nicole thanks Semi-Permanent volunteer and attendee Natalie Perkins* for this guest post. Semi-Permanent hit Brisbane on Wednesday, and I was lucky enough to grab a ticket in return for volunteering to pack the swag bags. This gave me the opportunity to see how the event was organised, as well as participating as an audience member. I left the conference full of ideas and inspiration, but I also left carrying a semi-permanent reminder of the awful seating at the Brisbane Convention Centre!

SP Speaker

What was good was great!

The speakers were generally fabulous and were very relevant to my own area of art/ design practice. The standout speaker for me was Timba Smits, who is an absolute juggernaut of motivation, inspiration and hard work. I did a recap of Semi-Permanent on my own blog, and went into further detail on my favourite presenters

As a volunteer and a member of the audience, I was impressed with the organisation of the whole shebang. My fellow swag packers were design students from the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, and we all worked together as some kind of fabulous packing contraption to pack over 700 bags in around 2 hours. During that time I noticed that Sasha, our humble volunteer herder and conference organiser, was busily organising all the other aspects of the day. I didn't see any dramas, everything looked under control! As a volunteer this was heartening, but as an audience member it's even more meaningful because you want to know that the conference you're attending is credible and well-oiled and valuable!

I was stoked to see that Mag Nation had a stall! I adore magazines and books and was keen to delve into a few throughout the day. I took home a copy of Wooden Toy issue 5.

What could have been done better?

Overall, the day felt a little bit like being in a full day of lectures at uni or TAFE. It was hard on the butt for a few reasons! The speakers did go overtime which meant that our breaks were sacrificed. Obviously if you get passionate people speaking about their creative practices, they're going to go overtime. I don't know if the scarce break syndrome was due to Brisbane's Semi-Permanent being crammed into only one day, but I beg the organisers - can we graduate to a two day event next year?!

Extending the format over two days would mean that other interactive activities could be integrated - activities that alleviate the sore butt syndrome, and encourage networking and participation within the audience! I would love to see micro-activities between organiser-audience, speaker-audience, audience-audience that allow everyone to mingle and move their limbs and make connections.

Another bummer was to do with access to food/ drinks and the scarcity of time available to access those things. The convention centre has a Subway right across the road, and Melbourne St and it's various delicious edibles about 5 minutes walk away. The shortened lunch break meant that people were scrambling to get fed and watered, and liberate their bladders! Can we integrate some kind of in-house munching experience? This would also enhance networking and community-making.

SP Goodie BagMy last beef is with the swag bags themselves. I was a little horrified to see the amount of useless bits of paper in the bags. Can we rethink the concept of the swag bag for next year, so it's inline with eco-design considerations? As a print designer, I'm already painfully aware of how much paper waste my practice produces. As an artist, I try to incorporate salvaged and reclaimed paper stock into my work as a way of off-setting my paper wasting ways. There are a bunch of smart and innovative people behind and around Semi-Permanent - this could be something that is solved in a really interesting way: through smarter packaging ideas, and encouraging sponsors to promote their products in more creative ways.

What downright sucked

THE SEATS. I will preface this by saying that I am fat, like a lot of people. I ended up with a bruise on my hip because of the stingy seating at the Brisbane Convention Centre. It made me think about how boring the venue choice was for such a creative industry. I absolutely abhor having to sit still for eight hours and it’s not just because I have a slamming booty. Do we need to sit in stadium seating? Is there any other way of holding a creative conference? 

What I find value in

As a conference attendee, I find value in the following things:

  • Networking/ rapport building amongst local industry people
  • Professional development - time management, industry insider tips, etc.
  • Kick-arse speakers
  • Access to limited edition stuff

Semi-Permanent Brisbane met most of these criteria. I did manage to do a small amount of networking (amazing considering the amount of free time was miniscule!) and I was impressed with the speakers. I would like to see more practical topics discussed - many creative people get too caught up in the creative process and neglect the management facet of their practice so I think it would be incredibly valuable to learn how other creatives do administrative stuff in an innovative way. I will be anticipating the conference next year, if just to see how many of the issues from this year are addressed. Until then, I'll be icing my bruised hip and drawing... always with the drawing!

Natalie Perkins**Natalie is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator who doesn’t really like talking in the third person. Her personal illustrative work deals in symbolism, appropriation, the feminine, detachment and obsessive compulsion. Her proudest achievements include being on the verge of completing a double degree in visual arts and education for nearly a decade, being a housewife who can only bake cupcakes and making her debut on the Brisbane emerging arts scene this year by appearing in the Semi Permanent 2009 book and getting an invite to her first group show at KILN in July. Her work is currently showing until early May at KILN's Works on Paper exhibition.

Let's Re-establish

Since my last post in July, a number of things have changed. I became dedicated solely to the final semester of my event management diploma at Southbank Institute of Technology (who is not associated with this blog in anyway other than educating me), had some medical dramas and things at work changed too. I was right to post about holding off the business of launching Jensen Events until next year, however I have by no means stopped the actual events side of things...
Client: Catherine Macintyre, College of Tourism & Hospitality, Southbank Institute of Technology Venue: Southbank Date: five weeks over October, November. Purpose: To inspire and inform events students. Duties: Sourcing guest speakers, collaboration with client, managing volunteers, equipment, marketing, documentation, programming, master of ceremonies, registration, budgeting, source catering.
My final assessment for my studies is a series of four conferences and a networking morning for events students and industry guests. Today I just completed the third of these conferences and I do know fair well enough that a pair of sore feet means a good effort indeed. The aim of the COTAH Events Conference Series 2008 is to motivate and inspire event management students at Southbank institute to get moving on their careers straight away, rather than shoving their dreams back into the sock drawer. I quickly rocked up a vision of the program and after quite a few juggling and speaker cancellations, the program came out looking like this:
Wednesday, 15th October
  • fellow final semester students on their event projects - a national floristry conference, a charity trivia night, a cooking book launch and a winemakers' and chefs' dinner.
Wednesday, 22nd October
Wednesday, 29th October
Wednesday, 5th November
I mean, this is a fantastic list of Australian events leaders and I am so proud to have them assist the institute in inspiring students to better themselves. I have learned many things not only from the assessment itself but also from these speakers and the students are also thankful. One, at least, has already earned herself a job with one of these businesses from attending!
As for the conference series closer, the networking function, this will be held on Wednesday the 12th of November at Southbank Institute of Technology. Anyone involved in the events, hospitality or tourism industries is welcome to attend, so if you would like to register your interest please write me a line to reserve your spot.
Lastly, there is a "#cotah08" Twitter hashtag for users who wish to keep track of @JensenEvents developments. Feel free to say hi!