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Immersive Creator Huddles 2023

Immersive Creator Huddles 2023

As our crowd funder approaches, I wanted to share a bit more information about the Immersive Creator Huddles that we are proposing as part of our work in 2023

At our inaugural Immersive Creator Summit we brought together around 150 creators for a day of discussions and debate loosely based around the future of immersive experiences. The event was meant to be a prototype to learn about what worked and what didn’t work, and we learnt a lot! 

Here were some of our key takeaways from it with some data from our post event survey. 

Immersive Creator Huddles 2023

We wanted to see if there was the demand for such an event 

This was proven by the fact that we sold out 2 weeks beforehand. However we also learnt that everyone leads busy lives and around 28% of ticket holders didn’t actually make it to the event, and of the people that did only 70% were able to stay the whole day. Lesson learnt that ticketing needs to be dynamic and flexible to ensure that as many people who want to come can come. 

We priced tickets at £30 for the day, with a £15 concession. 

70% of survey respondents said it felt about right, 23% said it felt like we should have charged more. We also learnt that having a concession ticket price was really important to ensure accessibility for creators. 

We structured the sessions with speakers given 5 minutes to talk about a topic loosely connected with the session theme, then opened the floor up to the audience to debate and ask questions. The ethos being that we wanted the audience to have agency over the session and not just be passive observers. 

This was such a learning experience, and we’re so grateful for all of the speakers and the participants who were willing to prototype this with us. 41% of the respondents liked the format, 57% said it worked some of the time.

We had a lot of feedback about the choice of speakers, mainly along the lines of wanting more focus to the sessions and stronger moderation. Several people also mentioning they would be interested in a more group workshop approach to some sessions which we agree with. 

We tried to pack a lot of content into a single day..

51% of respondents said they wanted more time for networking 

We tried to put a lot of Immersive Creators in space together to foster collaboration

80% of respondents said that it was effective in creating new connections that they think will help them create work in the future. 

We asked people what their dream content session would include: 

These were the most common responses. 

Immersive Creator Huddles 2023

What we did next…

Based on all the responses from people who were at the event, we started to put together plans for the next iteration which we had announced would be happening in January 2023.

Full disclosure, we went on a journey with this one and initially put together plans for a much bigger two day version in a large London venue. We wanted to create something that would allow us to bring together hundreds of immersive creators from across the country for conference sessions, workshops and networking opportunities, however as we dug into the economics it became clear that it would only work with much higher ticket prices, or major sponsorship. 

There are already some brilliant conferences in the UK for experience creators that charge high ticket prices in order for the content to be full of ‘headline’ contributors in nice venues. It’s a really valid business model but anecdotally the price means the audience is weighted in favour of those that have access to a company or academic expense account to cover the ticket costs. These events are great, but a significant number of our community are arts funded or independent creators for whom this would be a significant barrier to participating. We explored the idea of bursaries and pricing tiers but couldn’t land a model we were confident with. 

We looked at sponsorship and had some great conversations with companies who were interested in supporting us, but for the levels of sponsorship we wanted, we needed to have a better track record to show them what the return on that investment would be. 

So we took a step back and reexamined the needs that we were actually trying to meet were, and realised that whilst a big huge flagship event would have been fun it would have probably have failed to deliver on what one of the biggest needs that the summit identified – the need to build community. This needs something much more regular and more intimate than an annual bonanza. 

Immersive Creator Huddles

So the idea of Huddles was born, smaller intimate regular events where creators can get together to network and learn from each other. We think these will have a capacity of around 100 people and will include around 60 to 90mins of content which will revolve around a central theme for the night. 

The content will develop as we try some stuff and see if it works and then adapt the next one accordingly. We expect the format to change between interviews with key practitioners, panels of guests, lots of opportunities for people to ask questions and we’ll make sure there is lots of time for networking and meeting each other. 

We also hope that the content sessions will be filmed to be distributed via our website for people for whom it wasn’t possible to attend in person. Eventually if there is demand, we’re keen to also offer a hybrid ticket for people to live stream and participate with the events digitally. 

Our surveys said that people wanted events on Monday or Tuesdays, so we’ll try scheduling them for one of those evenings each month. Initially we’re going to run them in London because that’s where so many creators are based, but we want to do at least one outside of London within the first 6 months (ideas of where and who we can partner with please…

We’re looking for a nice small venue we can call home for the next 6 months that will be a good fit for the format, and we’re also talking to some show producers and immersive venue owners about holding Huddles ‘in situ’ as special one off events. 

We’re not expecting people to come to every event, but instead book and drop in when they are available or when a subject is something that they are particularly interested in. If they are unable to attend, then we hope they’ll catch up on the content on the videos we produce. 

The importance of the crowd funder is that it will help underwrite the event budgets as we develop them and see what the demand is, and what works. The Creators summit in May 2022 was personally funded by the board and whilst costs were offset from ticket sales we personally can’t afford to pay for another 6 whilst we work towards making the IEN self-sustaining. 

We believe that if we can put together a great first season of Huddles then with the evidence of the demand and the content we publish we will have a platform to be able to secure the funding and sponsorships for an ongoing program that will underpin the growth of our collaborative supportive community of Immersive Experience Creators. 

There will be the chance to secure tickets to the huddles as part of the Crowd Funder. For more information make sure you are signed up to our mailing list.

Date of article - October 27, 2022
Updated - March 1, 2024

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