“We’re not here to make a profit – [we’re] helping as many people as possible” – interview with James Hopkirk, Editor of Ideas Tap, part 3.

RS: You are based in London. (Insert a comment on living costs in the capital.) But you also organize training outside of London, correct?

JH: That’s right. We are a national charity, and while we have a London base, we’ve always worked very hard to do as much outside of London – whether in person or online – as possible. As such, last year we ran as many Spas outside of London as in it, working with our partner organisations around the country to make it possible.

RS: What are your main partner organisations? 

JH: We have 52 partners around the country – some of the biggest and best arts organisations in the UK. They include the National Theatre, BFI, mac birmingham, Royal Exchange, The Lowry, Magnum Photos, National Youth Theatre, Sky Academy, FORMAT Festival – and many, many more. We work with them to create exclusive industry opportunities for our members – from funding to mentoring to performance and exhibition opportunities.

RS: What impact has becoming a charity had on Ideas Tap?

JH: We were originally part of our Chairman’s trust, the Peter De Haan Charitable Trust. But we became a charity in our own right about five years ago. That charitable status is key to our identity. We exist purely to help creative people. We’re not here to make a profit or to serve some other purpose – all of our targets as an organisation are based around helping as many people as possible in as many different ways as possible. When we first started out, a lot of people would ask “what’s the catch?” assuming that there must be some nefarious pretext for giving all these things away!

RS: Yes, I saw a lot of comments along the lines of “They were too good to be true”. On the flipside, you inspired incredible loyalty! On a more personal note – can you talk about your role in IdeasTap? What’s your job description?

JH: I’m the Editor – the head of editorial, marketing and digital. What that means is that I’m responsible for everything that happens on the website, the articles we produce and all of our social media and promotion. I’ve been here for six years now and it is without doubt the best job I’ve ever hard. I’ve never worked for a charity before – my background is in journalism – and I’ve found it incredibly inspiring working for an organisation that supports so many extraordinarily talented people. It really is a very different feeling walking into the office here from anything I’ve done before, much as I’ve enjoyed my previous jobs – and I know it’s a feeling the team here share.

RS: It’s really great to hear that. Not only we, as artists, were helped by you, but also you enjoyed doing it… Can you name some artists who made a big career and were initially helped by IT?

JH: It’s hard to single people out – there are so many. And I also wouldn’t want us to take credit for anyone’s success. All we’ve ever done is give people resources – whether money, mentoring, introductions, a boost to their self esteem even. It is on the basis of their talent that they have succeeded.

RS: It’s dangerously close to #GoodbyeIdeasTap vibe, but do you have a best memory you’d like to share?

JH: Hah! There are a hell of a lot over six years. It’s hard to pick one, but a personal highlight for me was when Magnum Photos held their Annual General Meeting in our offices. Because they’re a co-operative of international photographers, they all gather just once a year in London or New York or Paris to discuss the future of the organisation and induct new photographers. I’m a photographer, so our building was filled with my heroes. We got a load of our photographer members to come in and interview them all, and we produced a one-off zine rounding them all up. It was a mad, but brilliant weekend! I think being up at the Edinburgh Fringe a couple of years back was also a real highlight. Seeing so much brilliant work performed by our members and loved by the audiences was pretty special.

RS: Is there anything that you’d like to add, that we didn’t cover? 

JH: Well, I want to thank you and all the other members who came out and spoke up on Twitter and Facebook yesterday. It was a very sad day for all of us here, but to see the incredible support, and hear some of the ways that we’d helped people, was just amazing, and put a smile on all our faces. The fact that members have set up a campaign is humbling – we are very, very grateful indeed.

RS: It is sincerely our pleasure. Feels good to give back! And to reiterate, we now need an individual/corporate entity (or several), that will decide to support you so that you can have a 2-3 year plan to begin with – because the work you do is hugely important. If anybody wants to save the day, earn scores of good PR and good will of many artists…. I’m not being subtle, but I don’t think I want to be. #JustSaying

JH: Haha – yes, exactly! Thank you so much – this is amazing.

RS: Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

JH: An absolute pleasure – thank you for everything that you’re doing for us.


“We’ve explored cheaper models, but […] the numbers didn’t add up.” – Go back to part 2.

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