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Bautopia Culture & Creativity Conference Porto Oct 2022 Key Takeaways


I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bautopia Culture & Creativity Conference in Porto last week. It was a fantastic conference in a very beautiful city and I was fortunate to arrive for the weekend before the conference so I had plenty of time to explore. I am so glad that I did as the city really is beautiful and it also gave me extra time to explore the city’s creative spaces. Throughout my visit I walked a lot and saw a lot, met many interesting people and listened to lots of very interesting talks and panel discussions. Here are my top takeaways for the creative sector in Northern Ireland from my time in Porto both from visiting the city and from the conference itself.


Creative Hubs Are Growing Globally Yet Struggle for Support

The number of creative hubs are growing globally and they can and do provide huge social and economic impact and benefits to local economies. However they still aren’t widely understood and often struggle to access funding and support as they don’t fit neatly into either arts and culture or technology and innovation funding pots.(I was quite relieved to realise this issue wasn’t just a local one, but seems to be widespread)

Creative hub in Porto


Collaborative Workspaces & Cultural Projects in Rural Areas

There is a huge and growing potential within rural areas for both collaborative workspaces and cultural projects that are embedded within the local community and heritage. If done right the social and economic benefit of both is huge. At the conference we heard from Miguel Herrara Guiterrez and Ana Ramos from The Genalguacil Pueblo Museo. A cultural project set up in response to the brain drain within a small Spanish village which now draws top artists from around the world, over 20,000 visitors annually, has been featured in media such as the New York Times and has now started to reverse the population decline. I thought this was interesting for Northern Ireland and had huge potential for our rural areas.

Miguel Herrara Guiterrez speaking at the conference

Creative Confidence is Key

Creatives and artists have the ability to change things, respond to global social challenges and address complex issues. They just need to believe they can and be given the opportunity to participate in solving these problems. At the conference we heard some inspiring stories from Martin Larsson about Cross Innovation Labs where methods from the creative sector are used in other industries – e.g. finance, industry, the public sector or healthcare – to achieve cross-fertilization, contribute with different perspectives, and create innovation. It would be great to see this type of innovation involving a variety of artists and creatives happening in NI to address some of our many social challenges. The key takeaway for me from the conference was the power that creatives could have to create lasting change if they had both the self confidence and the confidence of their local communities and governments to innovate and problem solve. I think we have a long way to go in Northern Ireland to build this confidence, and I also think there is a role for collaborative workspaces and creative hubs within this work.

Street Art in Porto


There is a Global Creative Skill Shortage

There is a current and growing skills shortage of creatives capable of solving future global and local social challenges and problems. Current ways of thinking must be unlearnt and new ways of working collectively must be reinvented rather than producing more of the same. Changing the education system will take some time, leaving the potential for Creative Hubs and organisations to step in and get involved in making these changes.


Accessing Finance and Protecting Your Intellectual Property Resources

We learnt about some great free resources available for creatives and creative organisations on accessing finance and protecting your Intellectual Property 


Outdoor Spaces Have A Huge Impact

I know we don’t have great weather, but throughout the conference I noticed in each of the different venues and creative hubs we visited the beautiful outdoor spaces, a mixture of courtyards, gardens and terraces. Having access to these spaces and the fresh air and natural light had a huge impact on my focus and concentration and they felt like natural easy spaces for networking, conversations and connection. I left wishing we had outdoor spaces in our studios, I think it would make a big difference to the mental health and wellbeing of our residents as well as productivity and concentration.

Outdoor networking at the conference


Local fashion

This is more of a personal one, but I wish someone would open a fashion store in Belfast selling wearable independent local and European brands.

Local fashion sold within a creative hub in Porto


Here is a link to the conference for more info: and you can also watch bits of it online:

#blickstudios on
This week in the final month of the year, as the year draws to a close we are thinking about what we want to get done before the end of the year. Having a look at what tasks we have been avoiding so we can get them done and out of the way and start 2023 without anything hanging over our heads. Is there anything you have been avoiding in your business that you know you would feel better if you just got it done?

#creativestartup #creativebusinessowners #creatives #smallbusiness #smallbusinessbelfast #smallbusinessowner #businesssupport
January seems the return of our kids animation workshops in partnership with Can Do Academy 

These mini animation master classes by Can Do Academy are a great introduction for children to the colourful world of Lego animation!

The workshop will allow participants to make a complete animated Lego film on an iPad, using sound effects, visual effects, titles and lots of imagination!

Your child will learn to use special iPad apps and they will receive a copy of their film at the end of the session! They can bring their own Lego characters or use the ones supplied by us.


Date: Saturday 14th January 2023

Time: 10am – 12pm

Venue: Blick Shared Studios, 51 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 6RY

Age: Children 7 – 14 years

Cost: £20 + booking fee

Book through our website link in profile
It’s that time of the year again, this week in our Creative Roundup we are highlighting some local festive markets and workshops, all ways you can support local creatives this Christmas. We have also listed some other opportunities and events that might be of interest to NI Creatives.


DATE: Sat 19th Nov
TIME: 11am - 4pm

DATE: Sun 20th Nov
LOCATION: Bullitt Hotel, Lobby

 DATE: Sunday 27th November
TIME: various
COST: £5

DATE: Saturday 10th December 
TIME: 10am - 12 noon
LOCATION: Portview Trade Centre
COST: £30

DATE: 25th Nov 
TIME: 5.00 - 7.00pm
LOCATION: Teolai, 30 Main Street, Castlewellan
COST: £55

DATE: 30th Nov
TIME: 5.30 - 8.00pm
LOCATION: The Merchant Hotel, 16 Skipper Street, Belfast
COST: Member £5, Non-member £10


The 100 Archive charts the past, present and future of Irish design by publishing 100 notable communication design projects, selected each year following an open call.
CLOSING DATE: 31st Jan 2023


Group exhibition showcasing women artists
DATES: 21st - 26th Nov
LOCATION: Artcetera Studio

DATE: Thurs 24th Nov
TIME: 10am - 12pm 
LOCATION: The F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio, 200 Newry Road, Banbridge

DATES: Friday 18 – Sunday 27 November 2022

DATE: Nov 21st TIME: 5.00 - 6.00PM GMT

DATES: Wednesday 23 November 2022
TIME: 18:00 – 19:00
LOCATION: online

DATE: Thursday 24th November

DATE: Tue, 29 November 2022,
TIME: 17:00 – 18:30 GMT

DATE: Thu, Dec 1, 2022 
TIME: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM GMT

Link to full blog with details and links on our profile
What do you want to achieve this week? This week’s question for reflection is super simple, but also a really good way to start the week. What do you want to achieve this week? Be really specific and honest with yourself. What is genuinely achievable within the timeframe and what is most important? Setting realistic and achievable goals is important, so you stay focused and don’t feel discouraged but also so difficult. It is easy to be overly optimistic with your goals and to-do lists or to focus on the things that are most enjoyable or easier, not what you actually need to get done to move forward.

I have to remind myself every week to be realistic about what I hope to achieve. Breaking down my weekly to-do list into urgent tasks (usually client work, admin etc) and things I would like to get done (big picture work, funding applications, new projects etc). I try and map out my urgent tasks then set aside some time and schedule in at least one thing from my things I would like to get done list each week so that I keep moving forward and working to achieve my overall goals.

How do you work out your to-do list and set your goals and priorities?

#creativeentrepreneurs #creativebusinessowners #smallbusiness #creativestartup #creative entrepreneurship
Did you know we have lots of free industry expert videos on our website? We have highlighted them on this week's creative roundup on our blog alongside different events and opportunities for creatives this week
We're excited to be bringing back our peer mentoring group

It’s very simple, but also very effective. Starting in January 2023 on the last Tuesday of each month we will host a get together with a small group of self-employed creative women or women in the process of starting a creative business to chat about business and life. Each person will get the chance to speak. Sharing their monthly progress, plans for the following month, future goals and aspirations as well as any challenges they may be facing. This process gives you the opportunity to connect with and learn from like-minded creative women and helps with motivation, accountability, goal setting and planning. 

As we want the group to be a safe-space for sharing we will be limiting numbers to a maximum of 8 participants. There is no cost to joining the group, but to ensure commitment and suitability participants need to fill in a short online registration to secure a space.

You can find the registration form on our website (link in profile) or if you have any questions about the group email

#womenfolk #womenindesign
#creativewomen #creativebusiness #creativewomencommunity #womenentrepreneur #womenentrepreneurs #womenentrepreneurship
Sunday mornings have just become available to hire the Main Room in our Malone studios. Perfect for yoga, meditation, classes, workshops etc, only £15 an hour for regular ongoing bookings. Get in touch for more info
This week's question for reflection is a tough one. It can be hard to be honest with yourself about where you find fulfillment especially with a creative business that may have started out as a passion project. Things change, just because we once found something fulfilling or enjoyable doesn't mean we still do, especially when it has turned from a hobby to a way of earning a living and all the pressures that brings. Of course for practical reasons we may still need to do it for the time being at least, but it's worth reflecting on for the future
After a week being away doing my first business/ solo travelling since before the pandemic. This week's question for reflection is a simple one. What do you want more of in life? and in your business?

#personaldevelopment #businessdevelopment #reflection #intentions #questions
This week's question for personal reflection came from a conversation we had in the studio about wanting to improve our writing skills. In this instance it was for a funding application, but I would also love to be able to write better for our website and social media and just think it would be a really useful skill to have for so many areas of business. It got me thinking about other things I would like to improve my skills on over the next period including social media (it's so hard to keep
uptodate with all the changes) and listening (covered in our creative roundup and the subject of a blog we will be releasing later in the week). Time just flies by and nothing changes if you don't take the time to think about what you would really like to do with your time and what would really add value to your business and life. Its worth taking some time to have a think about what skills you would like to develop and invest your time and energy in for both your personal and professional life 

#investinyourself #improveyourself #improveyourlife #reflection #intentions
Like many others we have been slowly rebuilding our business following the pandemic. Doing a lot of work behind the scenes and trying to be more intentional with both what we put our energy into, but also how and why we are doing things.
As we continue to get busier  I want to continue this process and plan to begin each week with a question for reflection for myself. I thought some other people might also find it a useful exercise so if i get time each week I will share them here. 
I love this week's question "what did you enjoy working on most last week?" We so often forget why we started a business and what we used to feel passionate about as we get bogged down in the day to day work. We forget that it's possible and also ok to enjoy our work and to try to create more of that joy.