As I announced to the Tuttle Club on Friday morning, we are in need of a new home. The simple story is that there’s an education event going on every Friday at the ICA which is incompatible with Tuttle being there. They thought we could co-exist but having tried it out last week, they realised how excitable, energetic, noisy and disruptive our presence can be.
It’s been an excellent space for us, and I’ve seen upset in people about losing the space even temporarily, in the last day or so that is as much about affection for the ICA bar as it is affection for Tuttle or just a resistance to change. We care continuing our relationship with the ICA. In the pipe line, for example is a Tuttle Film Club. I’d urge you to consider being a member there – it’s a great place for people like us to support and be part of. And you get discounts (10% off at the bar), access to exclusive events & priority programme info all for £35 a year (or £30 if you ask for the Tuttle Club offer)
Now then. What are we going to do next. Well in the immediate term we need somewhere to meet next week. I had a lovely offer from Henry at LEON of using the space at their Spitalfields branch and that looks like where we’ll be, subject to final confirmation which I expect to have cleared in the next day or so.
I will confirm the details here and on twitter – so if you can’t see anything else other than this statement, that means there’s nothing else to see. CONFIRMED – we’ll have a reserved section from 10-12 Keeping an eye on #tuttle on twitter is always a good idea anyway.
I don’t know how repeatable this offer is as we go forward or how sustainable we’d find meeting in a cafe like that every week. As a incorrigible prototyper and continuous improver, my challenge to the group is for us to find a space “even better than the ICA”. That’s a tough challenge but it also helps me remember that we’ve grown and changed in the last year and we should acknowledge that in our choice of future home.
We should in any case think hard about what to do next. There are a few options I’d like to play around with:
1) Stop, forget it, go home. It was fun while it lasted, alright let’s get back to Friday mornings at work. Should we? Have we run our course?
Given that we’ve consistently been attracting between 50 and 70 people every week (except Boxing Day) and still there are people who say to me “Ah Tuttle, yes I hear it’s very good, I’ve been meaning to come, it’s just been a bit tricky” and every week there are still more new people than I can physically meet in one session, I don’t think we’ve exhausted the format.
2) Look for somewhere else. Think of all the open empty spaces in London that we could imagine Tuttle existing in. Well, what are the minimum requirements? Most people say: somewhere to sit, the ability to make or buy coffee, and wifi. I’m interested in pushing that a bit further what are the things about the physical environment of the ICA that you really appreciate?
Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre, Barbican, all have large open public spaces. The School of Everything unplugged event manages nicely at the RFH, for example, but that’s at most 10-15 people. Even if the move halved the number of people we’d dominate the space we occupied, so it would have to be by arrangement with the venue, not just a flashmob. An important Tuttle principle is “Don’t piss the venue off” I also like having a space exclusively, so you don’t have to constantly be asking people whether their there for Tuttle or not when they wander up to the huge crowd.
It should also be free (gratis) – the deal with the ICA was that they didn’t charge us for the space and there was no minimum spend at the bar. I’m not at all keen on going somewhere that means we have to either raise a group collection every week or need to bring in sponsors every single week – if we have someone else’s space it should be on a philanthropic or patronage basis – they have to see (as the ICA did) what the value of having us there is, and it’s not straightforward to articulate and measure.
I’d like to nail a common assumption though. As much as we’d love to think that all venue owners would be grateful to have 50 or 60 people in their space spending some money on a Friday afternoon, when it comes down to it, anybody with a space that we’d be able to use, has an existing plan and model for how to maximise revenue from it and minimise their costs. Free might (or might not!) work in our business, but very few restaurateurs, pub landlords or general managers have gotten their heads around it yet.
I think there’s more mileage in expressing our need loudly and letting interested parties come to us, rather than go around trying to persuade people.
If we reject the first option and choose to continue then at least at first we have to explore this route.
3) Go Large. This is to continue with the original vision of having a space of our own, even if it’s contained within something else. It means grasping the nettle now and maing a business out of it, a business that engages in providing consulting services, running other events in a full-time space all of which subsidise the freeness of open Tuttling on a Friday morning (and doubtless afternoon too). Perhaps I’ve been waiting for a crisis like this in order to push me into really going much bigger.
Actions for you
I think there are a few things to do to help us all find our way.
1) Make a list of all the possible venues, their facilities, location, cost where known etc. This is something that’ll be valuable to the community as a whole anyway – I’m often being asked to suggest venues for stuff. So please contribute to the List of Cool Places (in London) to do Cool Stuff
2) Add to the list of selection criteria – let’s pull together what it is that we’ve liked about where we’ve been and would like to maintain or improve on in the new place.
3) Talk about it with whoever you can, open up conversations about who’s got spare space, who’d like to have us play alongside them, which cats are hep to our jive etc. Talk to me about how can we make Tuttle an even more exciting adventure. Bring me your evil plans.
And remember that this isn’t going to get sorted out for you, we all need everyone to help. Although I talk about a Re-Location Committee, that’s partly just an attempt to reclaim language – this isn’t the sort of Committee your parents served on – it’s self-selecting, if you want in, join in. And if you think I’m a complete nana and am missing the point or need a good talking to or whatever, let’s talk about it in the comments.