When Twestival Came to Nottingham

Like most people, I only heard of Twestival shortly before it was due to happen. Just over two weeks before. I wanted to make sure I was there as I was fed up with missing out as all ‘local’ events took place in Sheffield or Leeds. I was definitely going to go until I realised that no one had arranged it.

I sent out a few tweets on Twitter to see if someone else was interested. There was interest but no one was stepping forward to arrange it. So I took the plunge, and others followed shortly after.

Getting the venue was the first task and the first of many that fell into place with great ease. The Castle pub was chosen. An iconic Nottingham pub named after Nottingham’s biggest non-landmark, opposite the tourist trap that is the Robin Hood statue. It has a function room that can handle 75 people, it has wi-fi (key requirement) and it serves London Pride.

The blog and ticketing system for every one of the 202 Twestival’s was provided centrally by a dedicated team who cannot be forgotten in this whirlwind of activity. It is the blog and ease of ticketing that allowed each event to promote and sell itself.

The first blog post at Nottingham Twestival was posted on 29th January 2009, only 3 days after the first call out on Twitter, was announcing the venue. The following post was call for help to make the night one to remember asking for co-organisers, musicians, stand up comedians, DJs and projectors.

I was starting to get logo envy from a couple of the UK Twestival’s which were further ahead in their organisation so a shout went out on the blog and on Twitter. Within 2 days we had a fully formed logo for Nottingham courtesy of @lucyhg of hg design studio. It was as this point that the possibilities for Twestival become clear.

To contribute to the global effort of promoting Twestival I wrote Using Twestival To Increase Your Audience While Helping Raise Money for Charity for Twitip.com.

In order to promote Twestival outside of Twitter, @JoannaButler set up both Facebook and LinkedIn groups to spread the word. Both of these groups quickly grew in size and help others to connect via Twitter.

With plenty of people expressing an interest in the event, it looked as though it was all going to happen. And that meant that money was going to have to be spent. If all money raised was to go directly to charity: water, an amount of sponsorship money would be needed.

It was at this point that something brilliant and unexpected happened. Another event was being planned, in Nottingham, for tech people. The inaugural NottTuesday was being planned by @adambird of Esendex for Tuesday 10th Feb 2009. It provided not only a relevant local company to approach as a sponsor but also a target audience of punters to approach for the Twestival. Adam agreed to sponsor the Twestival after only a single Twitter, and many of the people who were there on Tuesday also attended the Nottingham Twestival.

The night got off to a bizarre start as I posed twittering for the Evening Post article on Twitter which also plugged the Twestival. It was also here that I had my first face to face meeting with those whose I had been in contact with over the past couple of weeks. Joanna Butler helped work the room to make sure everyone knew about Nottingham Twestival. CJ held a camera at me, not for the last time, as she interviewed me about Nottingham Twestival. She then proved to be the tech saviour by providing the projectors for the Twestival.

Raffle prizes for on the night also proved easy to come by with generous donations from Nottingham Panthers ice hockey team, Just the Tonic comedy club and Wild Duck Productions.

The only thing that was missing was any volume of ticket sales which would be the case right up until the doors opened on the night.

Somewhere amongst all this, the idea of the UK Twestival Gumball Rally surfaced. Four guys would drive from Newcastle to London on the day of the Twestival visting other Twestival cities on the way. And Nottingham was to be included. I arrived at the venue at 12:30pm to meet the guys completely pumped up with energy and was streamed live to the web before I had even drawn a breath. I’m told they were only there for 30 minutes but it was such a whirlwind that it could have been any amount of time. They left us to shoot off to Birmingham, Oxford and finally London.

As snow fell heavily in Nottingham and the fateful refresh on the ‘Tickets Sold’ page painted a single digit turnout for the night it was all looking a bit bleak and futile. Setting up in The Castle, CJ and I got the projectors and laptops set up for a multimedia extravaganza of a night and hoped that the dodgy wi-fi we had seen in the afternoon would behave itself.

At 7.30pm on the dot, the first person arrived, then in quick succession others too. It was happening, the first Nottingham Twestival was in full swing! We had Monitter, 4charitymate, Flickr, video.liveearth.org on screens with Twestival.fm playing through the speakers. People who couldn’t attended were twittering #nottstwestival to join in from home.

The raffle was a success with very happy winners. All money from ticket sales and raffle tickets, plus the majority of the sponsorship money all went to charity: water, to fund clean water projects.

New friendships were created, old friends caught up on the past. A great time was had by all. Nottingham needed this. charity: water needed this. 1 in 6 people in the world needed this.

So that was that and its all over now. Not quite. Twestival never truly finishes, it just rests until the next time.

Short URL: http://www.martinwright.tv/u/11

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