Two things. Firstly, I am absolutely terrible at gauging likely audience numbers for events. Secondly, I always assume that anything that has me in it is going to be a flop, or worse, a fiasco. So I was awfully surprised and gratified to turn up for my wee stint at CABN’s PechaKucha event in Galashiels last week to find the fantastic Mac Arts Centre at the standing room only stage. Better – and this, I think, is the crux to the whole thing – it was full of people I didn’t even know. You can get awfully used to ploughing your own wee creative furrow in the Borders, and not really interacting with anyone outside the handful of people who are working in the same area; it was interesting to see and hear from folk who are engaging in other areas of the arts.
PechaKucha, in case you didn’t know, is a kind of presentation format where 20 slides are shown on-screen for 20 seconds each while the presenter talks about them. The emphasis, therefore, is towards snappy, energetic talks with relevant, interesting visuals. It might sound a bit gimmicky, but presentation skills are tough things to learn, and formats like PechaKucha are great ideas because they stop people from just, say, reading out PowerPoint presentations word for word with their backs to the audience. As someone (i.e. a writer) who is slightly predisposed to labouring the point, I got a lot out of working to the PechaKucha format, and to anyone who’s looking to learn a wee bit about the craft of presentation, I’d 100% recommend giving it a go.
Anyway, my presentation, “Corridors of Uncertainty”, was about the relationship between art and sport, which seems to be a relatively untapped source of inspiration in the Borders, especially when you look at our proud history in both areas. I talked a wee bit about my work with Selkirk FC – Bobby Johnstone, Nil By Mouth – and how much the creative community can learn from the initiatives of local clubs like Selkirk, Hawick Royal Albert and Gala Fairydean. I also tried to flag up the fact that, with the local culture and leisure trusts recently integrating to form Live Borders, it’s a fantastic time for creative professionals to start finding ways to engage with Borders sport. The opportunities are definitely out there, it’s just a matter of finding them.
The presentations aren’t up online yet, but they will be eventually. In the meantime, for a wee bit more information about the event and the other presentations, you can visit the Galashiels PechaKucha page here; or, if you’d like to come along to (or even participate in!) the next PechaKucha night in June, it’s definitely worth checking in with the indispensable CABN at their website.