Innovative ideas for cultural and creative sectors in Europe

APAJA - Platform for finding and connecting creatives

Managed Culture Network

APAJA is a platform for finding creative professionals, connect, exchange knowhow, trade services and products, share work opportunities and initiate new projects. It is not just another web site, but a support network and a community, where people and businesses meet locally and globally with the help of cultural managers.

Innovation

There already are many different functioning online services for creative professionals to connect and for the audience to find culture. Some of them may be very extensive. However, most of them are definite for a certain audience or restricted by a certain field. Networking is often greatly dependent on the activity of the members and the quality of networking activity is not guaranteed. What we want to offer with APAJA is one inclusive platform that combines all our favourite functions (see the appendix) and networking services, virtually and in reality. We want to share culture and make it accessible for everyone. At the same time, we want to support creative business and share information about what’s going on within the industry. How we plan to do this is with the help of cultural managers, who actively produce content to the service and create activities, to build and maintain the community. Cultural managers will not be just faceless names behind the web portal, but actual people interacting with the users, surveying their needs (even the ones unrecognizable for themselves!) and activating them to co-create. Our aim is to build a portal that engenders real connection, co-operation and trade within the creative sector and cross-sectorally. We believe that cultural managers do not only strengthen the existing network of creative professionals, but they can also energize and fascilitate collaboration projects that would never spring to life without intermediation.

Technology

The platform will be built with Wordpress and Buddypress for computers, tablets and mobile phones. It consists of three main parts: 1. ACCESS CULTURE For privates or professional looking for cultural events, services or products *Cultural events calendar *Service and product directory or search engine *Introduction of the creative professionals and organisations *Links to related info and services 2. SHARE CULTURE For professionals offering their services and products or sharing information about their organisation, and for privates sharing recommendations on professionals *Tools for marketing *Tools for sharing info *Tools for rating and commenting *Tools for communication between clients and service providers 3. MAKE CULTURE For professionals looking for partners and support network *Tools for networking *Business support counseling and trainings *Notifications on free vacancies, workspaces etc. *Discussion forums for questions and answers All suppliers are required to register a personal or enterprise-specific web profile that can easily be found with several different searching methods (listings, keyword search and location-based search). Private buyers are also required to register, to ensure security for the sellers, but their contact information will not be publicly shared. Service and goods providers as well as clients and colleagues can be refereed with rating machines and comments.

Target Group

APAJA offers service locally and globally to... 1. Creative professionals and students who want to build their professional support and co-operation network and offer their know-how, services and products RESPONSE TO THE NEED: tools for networking and marketing 2. Other professionals looking for creative services RESPONSE TO THE NEED: tools for finding creative professionals and their services and products 3. Privates looking for creative services and products or cultural events RESPONSE TO THE NEED: tools for finding cultural events as well as creative professionals and their services and products

Implementation

The website will be co-developed with ICT-professionals, graphic and service designers and members of the potential target group. Fundings for development and maintenance will be collected from public project funds, private investors and business partners. The clients of the website will be gathered using the existing networks of HUMAK University of Applied Sciences, which encompass the creative industry both nationally and internationally. The service launch starts from Southwest Finland but the marketing will be immediately targeted for the whole Finland and the global market. The official business language is English, but the service will gradually also be provided in the languages of the users, as they start forming significant communities. Both nationally and internationally oriented businesses are taken into consideration in data presentation. Users can define their search based on their interest, location, possible related businesses etc. First and foremost, the service will be actively sold with targeted web adverts, telephone marketing and event promotions firstly for all creative professionals, who pay an annual fee for being member. Secondly, the service will be actively introduced to other businesses and privates with direct contact and utilizing media, social media and other marketing channels.

Sustainability

The key idea is to make the service both interesting and interactive for the users, which secures its sustainability. To ensure this, active moderation by cultural managers is essential. Developing the creative economy in Finland has long been a matter of heart for HUMAK University of Applied Sciences. As an institution educating cultural managers, we have initiated several projects to do so. Now we want to gather our know-how and best practices under one umbrella and make it easily accessible for everyone, everywhere. At the same time, we want to offer our students interesting learning experiences. According to our plans, the platform will be administered by the RDI unit of the university and the content will be produced by cultural management students, whose obligatory studies (e.g. productization, event planning and organisation, marketing etc.) are integrated in the service. The technology will be co-developed with local universities of technology and ICT professionals. This provides multitude of possibilities and true potential for integrating contemporary technology and education. For students, APAJA offers a real life learning case and an opportunity for networking. For APAJA, young minds can offer new visions and insights for developing the service. The maintenance of the service and its integration with education will be planned with teachers, cultural management students and service designers to ensure high quality and long-term development and maintenance.