Making a creative space in a practical life with Gail Schimmel

The question that I am most often asked is how I manage to make space to be a writer when I have a day-career as a lawyer and am a hands-on mom.

The answer lies in a new way of thinking about our lives – gone are the days of each person only being allowed one job or role. The new catch phrase is “portfolio living” and the idea is that each of us has several portfolios. Gone are the days when we have to choose one expertise – there is nothing to stop one person being an expert in two, often unrelated, things.

Many people experience extraordinary frustration because they want to be more creative, but they can’t figure out how to make a creative space in their practical lives. They know that they don’t want to throw up their careers and become a starving artist, so they give up on their creativity all together.

Join me for a fun morning where we explore how to make a creative space in your practical life – and what your creative space might be. Interactive, creative and lots of fun.

 

Gail Schimmel is the author of three novels – Marriage Vows (2008), Whatever Happened to the Cowley Twins (2013) and The Park (2017). She has also written a children’s book (Claude & Millie, writing as Gail van Onselen) and a text book on advertising law. Gail’s short story was runner up in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories award. She runs her own consultancy as a lawyer specialising in advertising law. Gail lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two children.

 

Date: Weekday morning, 9:30 to 12:30 am, enquire for the next dates

Cost: R550, including refreshments and all materials (R450 for members of Better). EFT details

The workshop is limited to twelve participants for maximum impact

Booking essential! Contact Patience on 011 327 6098 or patience@better.joburg.

How to get published, a conversation with Marion Scher

 

All Better writers and aspirant writers are invited for a conversation with Marion Scher about how to get published.

Marion Scher is a top freelance journalist and author with over 28 years of experience in radio, television and print media. Author of two books, Business Manners in South Africa (Francolin) and Surviving the SA Media (Knowledge Resources), with another, ‘Conquering Communications’ coming out, she also ghost writes other people’s stories.

She will be sharing her experience and knowledge in an informal conversation at Better. This is your chance to ask all your questions and get useful tips for finally getting your manuscript out there.

Tea and cake will be served.

  • Who: Writers who want to know more about getting published
  • When: Monday the 20th March, 10:00am to 12:00 noon
  • Cost: R150 (free for members of Better)

 

Planning your freelance career

There is a lot to like about freelance work: being your own boss, control of your time, chosing your customers. But making the transition to freelance work is difficult and scary.

If you have been thinking about it, or have made some steps towards freelance work, but are not sure whether to commit fully, here is an opportunity for you to think it through.

The course is very hands-on, working through exercises. We work with small groups so that there is time to listen to each person’s story and discuss specific strategies and solutions for you.

 

The workshop runs over three evenings, discussing:

Session 1: Where are you now?

In this first session we assess where you are, your skills, opportunities and challenges and why you want to freelance. We also look at the kind of person you are and how suited you might be to a freelance life.

Session 2: Where you want to be?

In our second session we get creative, and you imagine your perfect freelance life. How much time will go into work? How much money do you want to make? What will your working day look like? We also take a sober look at what might be feasible in the next year or so.

Session 3: How will you get there?

In our final session we discuss strategies for making the transition. What needs to be in place before you can make the move? Whose buy-in do you need? We look at strategies that have worked for other freelancers and discuss what might work for you. Then you craft a plan and map out the steps you need to take.

 

Does it help?

Donna Chiang had this to say after attending:

“Please could you pass on my thanks to Judy and Andrew for hosting such a wonderful workshop? I really enjoyed it and felt that I could propel myself in a practical and inspired manner towards the things that I enjoy doing. And make an income doing so.

We spoke about things that were so relevant to me and they gave such practical tips to apply in my current situation and things to think about when I’m eventually where I am where I want to be. The 3 days spread over the 3 weeks, helped solidify my learnings.”

 

Judy has a background in business strategy as well as experience of freelance work and Andrew is a long-time freelancer. This workshop shares what they have learned and the resources they have collected in their freelance journeys.

  • Who: Those contemplating freelance work or in the process of making the transition
  • Cost: R400 (R300 for members of Better) (for all three evenings)
  • Time: 6.00pm to 7.30pm
  • Dates: Wednesday 8th, 15th and 22nd November

Maximum 6 places. Booking and prepayment essential. E-mail Candy at  patience@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Find our EFT details here.

 

 

Art @ Better

Every Wednesday morning artists and aspirant artists get together to draw, paint and explore at Better.

Bring what you are working on or make use of suggestions provided. Experiment with new tools and materials. Follow lesson plans or do your own thing. Get inspired by what others are working on.

Check out these reasons to Make Art at Better.

Every Wednesday 9:30 to 12:30 in the studio at Better

Free for members of Better or R100 for access, materials and refreshments (if you haven’t been before, your first visit to Better is free)

 

Membership options at Better

Make Better your regular work and play space by becoming a member of Better.  We’d love to have you join our community. Here we explain our membership options.

The free stuff

All members of Better get, for free

  • fast WiFi,
  • coffee, tea and snacks,
  • access to books and curated information, and
  • the use of a range of creating equipment and materials.

Members can attend many of our events free and get discounts on workshops and training.

The membership options

There are three tiers of membership:

As a starving artist (tier one) you want access to Better more than four times a month, but your budget is tight. For R550 per month, you get:

  • access Better up to ten days in the month
  • 5 pages of printing free each day, and
  • a discount on one guest per day.

If you are at the point of creating every day, and want a place to work regularly, leaving your stuff overnight, then the regular maker (tier two) option is for you. You pay R1200 per month for

  • access to Better as often as you want
  • 10 pages of printing free each day,
  • a discount on two guests per day,
  • off-street parking, and
  • your own locker.

If you run a successful freelance business and want, not only a place to work, but the kind of services that will free up your time for more important things, then we consider you a creative agent (tier three). At this  level, for R2600 per month you enjoy

  • access to Better as often as you want
  • 20 pages of printing free each day,
  • a discount on four guests per day,
  • off-street parking,
  • your own locker,
  • 8 hours exclusive use of a meeting room in the month
  • 12 free secretarial services in the month
  • 2 hours of tech support in the month

There are no contracts. Our memberships run from whatever day you sign up to that same day in the next month. We’d like you to renew each month, but only if you love being here.

You can pay for 3 or 6 months at a time, and we’ll give you a discount of 5% or 10% respectively.

Sign up here.

The pay as you go option

You can also pay R150 per day to come and use the space. Once you are inside, you will have access to the free stuff for members. You can also pay for other services as follows:

  • Printing R1 per page
  • Locker RR30 per week
  • Meeting room R200 per hour
  • Secretarial services R110 per task
  • Tech support R400 per hour

The discounted rate for guests of members is R100 per day.

Or sign up here.

Sneak previews of Better

We thought you might be interested to see something of Better, so here are a few pictures. Above is the facade of the building.

Better occupies the left side of the building with the reception, lounge, kitchen and studio on the ground floor.

Lovely light in the kitchen
Judy’s workspace in the studio this week

On the top floor we have two rooms that we call the meeting room and the writing room, a bathroom, as well as the use of that lovely veranda.

A quiet spot to read in the meeting room
One of the work areas in the writing room

But that’s not all! We also have the use of the garden, with space to enjoy your tea, hold a meeting or work under the trees.

Space to sit in the garden

Do come and visit to see the rest of Better. Click here for directions. We are open weekdays from 9am to 6pm and you can drop in any time for a tour. We have scheduled times to Meet the Dreamers when both Andrew and Judy will be around. We’d like to meet you in person to chat about our plans and yours.

Introducing Patience, Better’s magic fairy

 

We’d like to introduce the Better community to Patience Phiri, who joined Better at the start of February. Technically, she’s our receptionist, but we like to think of her as the magic fairy that makes your wishes come true.

Patience popped among hundreds of applicants by writing an awesome cover letter in which she described herself as “down to earth, fun, caring and calm”. She loves “reading, writing, deco, gardening, art, cooking, calmness, fresh breeze, positivity, humans and making this world a better place in any way that I can”, which is exactly the kind of excellent human we wanted here.

Patience has already started to bring order to our lives. She is a whizz at administrative tasks, which is great for Andrew and Judy, since they are not. She also learns quickly and can now wield a staple gun as well as her magic wand, but you’ll have to visit Better to learn what she was doing with that!

Pop along and meet Patience. Better is open from 9am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, or join us for one of our events.

We answer your questions

Thanks so much for all your enthusiasm about Better. It’s really great to have positive comments and to know that there is a community out there that wants this space.

We are deeply embroiled in creating the physical space (think tilers and painters) and buying furniture, but at the same time we are working on the operational details.

So, in answer to all your questions, here is more detail about how Better will work, including…

  • Who is Better for?
  • How will Better work?
  • What will it cost?

Please get in touch with any further questions you have…

Who is Better for?

Does Better cater for my creative domain?

We’d like Better to cater for any and every creative domain. We are limited at the moment by the space and equipment we can afford, but we’ll grow and expand. We are writers, artists, and tech tinkerers, so we may have a bias towards those domains. We will update you on the specific equipment we are getting later this month.

Creative domains that are noisy (metalwork) and require large dedicated spaces (dance) or equipment (ceramics) will be hard to accommodate to start with. But please speak to us, come along and see how you can be part of Better. We welcome suggestions and are very willing to explore how to fit you in.

What type of people is Better designed for?

Everyone is welcome. We anticipate having members aged 18 to 80 and we welcome hipsters, the hip-replacement crowd, the fabulous and the frumpy! We think that a mix will be more interesting. Better people are likely to be tolerant and open-minded, with an urge to create. If you subscribe to our values, it might be easier to fit in.

So, what are the Better values?

We want to create a space that is kind, gentle, welcoming, inclusive, happy, light, open, sparkly, handmade, comfortable, cosy, warm, upbeat, stimulating, permissive and encouraging. If that sounds good to you, you are probably our kind of person.

Can I bring my children to Better?

Sorry, no. While we love children, Better is a place for being productive. In our experience, children are not conducive to productivity. It’s also more complex for us to provide an environment that is safe for children. So you must be 18 years or older to be a member of Better and to be at Better.

How will Better work?

How do memberships work?

Better operates on a membership basis. In order to use the spaces and equipment we offer you need to become a member. (For the curious, we also have a flat day fee so that you can get a feel for the place.) There are three tiers of membership with different costs and benefits. Full details of the membership tiers will be published on our web site soon, but the basics are:

  • Tier 1 (starving artist) gives you access to the premises 10 days a month, free tea and coffee and internet access, and some shared equipment and resources. This tier is designed for those who want to be part of Better, on a tight budget.
  • Tier 2 (regular maker) gives you access to the premises every day of the month, all the free stuff, your own locker and off-street parking. This tier is designed for people who will be regularly using Better for their own creative pursuits.
  • Tier 3 (creative agent) gives you access to everything that Tier 2 does but also offers the option to book rooms for exclusive use, secretarial services and tech support. This tier is designed for those who are making a living from their creative work and will use Better as a base to both create and sell products or services.

Can I rent space at Better?

Not really. We have a membership model, not a rental model. You become a member of Better and that gives you access to use shared spaces. Our premises are not big enough to give you exclusive use of areas (except for short periods of time), but we hope to grow.

Can I run a workshop / seminar / event at Better?

Yes, we’d really like members to help us make Better a lively, interesting place. We are super keen to encourage this, provided that the subject matter is related to creative endeavours. Please talk to us about your idea. The cost will depend on the format of the events and your tier of membership (see more below).

Do you have parking?

Yes, we have off-street, covered parking behind a big motorised gate, BUT it is limited. This means that this parking is only available to members on tier 2 and tier 3. Tier 1 members and day-visitors can park on Englewold Street, with a full-time security guard watching your cars. We encourage Better people to use public transport, bicycles and other, better forms of transport. All bicycles get to park inside.

What will it cost?

Membership rates

We want to keep membership affordable, but to offer a full range of services to those who want them, so our initial pricing is:

  • Tier 1 (starving artist): R550 per month
  • Tier 2 (regular maker): R1200 per month
  • Tier 3 (creative agent): R2600 per month

If you pay up-front for 3 months you get a 5% discount, and if you pay up-front for 6 months you get a 10% discount.

Walk-in rates

We prefer that people join as members and become part of the Better community, but if you want to spend a day just to check it out, or you are in town for a few days, you can get access to Better for R150 a day.

Workshop / seminar / event costs

The cost to attend an event at Better will depend on the individual event and who is facilitating it. Prices will be advertised for each event.

To run a workshop at Better will cost you (the facilitator) a minimum of R440 for administrative services (advertising, taking bookings and payments, room set-up) plus R100 per attendee per day (for access to the venue, tea and coffee, and Wi-fi). Additional administrative fees will apply if your workshop runs over more than one day, involves more than 10 delegates or runs in the evening. Optional charges apply for arranging lunch, materials etc. If you are a Tier 3 member, many of these charges will be included in your membership. Full details will be published on our website soon.

Embrace everyday creativity in 2017

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power nor time.”

– poet Mary Oliver, Of Power and Time

The New Year is a great time to re-evaluate priorities and make plans for how better to spend your precious life-time. If you are feeling the call to create, the urge to escape the corporate nine-to-five, or the need to balance your life with some more fulfilling pursuits, consider joining the Better community in 2017.

Better is a place where people doing creative things for fun or money can work, share and relax. Better is about promoting a culture of making and about celebrating creativity.

In Making is Connecting, David Gauntlett speaks of the “inherent pleasure in making; we might call this joie de faire (like joie de vivre) to indicate that there is something important, even urgent, to be said about the sheer enjoyment of making something that didn’t exist before”. He goes on to propose a definition of everyday creativity that takes into account the emotional aspects of creating, as opposed to the more traditional definition of creativity as that which results in unusual or celebrated outcomes. It’s a long definition, but worth repeating in full:

“Everyday creativity refers to a process which brings together at least one active human mind, and the material or digital world, in the activity of making something. The activity has not been done in this way by this person (or these people) before. The process may arouse various emotions, such as excitement and frustration, but most especially a feeling of joy. When witnessing and appreciating the output, people may sense the presence of the maker, and recognize those feelings.”

That’s the kind of creativity Better is about. We believe that all human beings are inherently creative, and we want to make a space where you can explore your creativity and experience the joy of making.

Better caters for artists, designers, writers, poets, programmers, photographers, and all kinds of crafters. We are open to accommodating other creative pursuits where at all possible. We’ll provide space and some equipment, as well as fast internet, tea and coffee, and a program of events. We need you to help us create a friendly and stimulating atmosphere. Come for coffee, stay to write, compare notes and helpful tips, join or host a workshop, and share your latest project with others who care about creative work.

Better is an emerging project; we are making it up as we go along! We welcome your input. What do you want at Better?

Better is based in Saxonwold, Johannesburg (more about that here) and will be opening in February 2017. Watch out for more information during January, including your invitation to visit. Leave us your e-mail address to be kept informed, follow us on Twitter (@betterjoburg) or find us on Facebook.

 

We found a place for Better!

Better is our vision for a physical space where creative makers can get together to work, share and play. Back in September we posted an update about our progress towards Better. There we told of our frustrations at trying to find a place for Better. Despite the frustrations, we persisted and…

We have found it!

Last week we signed a lease on a place in Saxonwold, nicely situated between Rosebank and Killarney at 91 Oxford Road. We will be sharing premises with the College of Digital Photography. We have rooms downstairs and up, a large balcony and a garden.

In just a week Andrew has rounded up contractors and had them demolishing drywalls, painting and cleaning, while we’ve both been out finding homely, well-loved furniture. We’ve got a way to go, but it’s looking good and we are having a lot of fun.

So, Better will open in February 2017.

Watch this space during January for…

  • pictures of the Better place,
  • the shared resources we are getting for Better,
  • the launch of our web site,
  • introductions to the Better people,
  • how you can be part of Better,
  • our events lineup for February and
  • our opening party!

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