Curio Conference
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Curio Conference

Following our Curio-sity

Curio is a new one-day conference dedicated to sharing stories about content and curiosity. It’s on 11th October at Platf9rm in Brighton and is organised by me (Lauren Pope) and Louise Whitfield.

The image is an aerial shot of a grounded plane in the middle of a forest, and the Curio logo.

Curio is all about sharing stories about following your curiosity, so Lou and I thought we’d tell a curious story of our own about how we came to be running the event.

A few months ago we started idly talking about how it would be good to do ‘a thing’ for Brighton Digital Festival (BDF). Then we changed topics, and it went to the back of our minds for a while.

A blog post about the BDF and Brandwatch Grassroots Award prompted us back into action. The possibility of funding got us thinking about what that ‘thing’ could look like. We wrote an application, describing the kind of event we wanted to go to ourselves: welcoming, accessible, celebrating work that makes a real impact.

We were thrilled and surprised when we found out that we’d got the funding. Having that pot of money to get things going meant we could start to follow our curiosity and ask a lot of ‘what if?’ questions about how we would run the event. What if we:

  • could do a full day’s event rather than just an evening meet-up?
  • tried to make it open to as many people as possible?
  • didn’t just get speakers from our own industry?
  • left part of the agenda open to chance?
  • made it into a community event?
  • could do good as we went along?

All these questions evolved into a three-part mission we want to share with you.

1. What if we’re curious?

We want Curio to celebrate curiosity. This means we’ve sought out speakers who we think have a great story to tell about following an interesting thread. Some asked a difficult question, some dug into data or research, some tried to do something in a completely different way. We’re really excited about all the stories they’re going to share with you.

We also want our attendees to follow their curiosity. So the last part of the day is an open workshop — we’ll set the agenda on the day, based on what people are most interested in.

We want to run the event with curiosity too. We’ve never done this before — it’s an adventure and we want to do things a little differently, learning as we go.

2. What if we’re open?

Being open means a few different things to us. First, it’s about being open to feedback at every stage of the process. We’ve already had helpful suggestions that we’ve put into action. So tell us what you’re thinking — we’ll listen.

Second, it’s about being able to open the event up to as many people as we can. A lot of the brilliant conferences we both want to go to cost hundreds, even thousands, of pounds. Putting on an event takes a lot of time, energy and money, and justifies those ticket prices. But it puts them out of reach for many people who’d love to go along. Because we have funding and we’re not-for-profit, we’re able to make tickets available on a ‘pay-what-you-can’ basis so that money won’t be an obstacle to attending. This means you might not get some of the things you get with other conferences (like a swag bag or lunch) but we hope you won’t miss them too much.

Another part of this is being open to hearing what we need to do to be accessible. There’s wheelchair access to our venue. We can reserve you a seat at the back or the end of a row if you need one for any reason. We can do pronoun stickers. We welcome babies and breastfeeding. We can hire a sign language interpreter. If you want to come but something’s getting in the way, let us know so we can find a solution.

3. What if we try to do good?

We also wondered if there was a way we could do a little good as we went along.

We’re not taking any payment for organising the event and we’re keeping our running costs low. Any profit we generate through our ‘pay-what-you-can’ model will be donated to The Clock Tower Sanctuary, a charity that supports homeless young people in Brighton. One in 69 people in our city are homeless — the work they do is incredibly important.

It’s also important to us to keep the amount of waste we create to a minimum. That means no lanyards, no plastic bags, no bottled water, no printed agendas.

So that’s our mission. We’re still following our curiosity, and we’re open to your feedback — let us know what you think. If you’re feeling curious or want to support our mission, you can get your ticket here.