As you may or may not be aware, RiteTrax is more than just an events promotion company. We are a creative social enterprise, a ‘profit for purpose’ business aimed not only at providing a platform for underground culture, but at enriching the lives of those we work with by providing valuable work experience in the creative sector through our regular showcase events and, in the future, workshops and studio sessions.
Earlier this year I applied to the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in Liverpool to enrol on a programme of learning funded by Lloyds Bank, coupled with £4000 business funding from the Big Lottery fund. It seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t afford to pass me by – an opportunity to test RiteTrax’s viability as a social enterprise and seriously develop the idea. I’m delighted to share that I was accepted onto the SSE Start Up programme for 2016. The support I am going to receive will help us transform this project into a genuine social business that can can enact social change in Sheffield through the creative arts. The programme is all about developing individuals as social entrepreneurs and giving them the skills they need to turn their business ideas into sustainable social enterprises and I’m really excited to be a part of it.
With support form the SSE we hope to expand our business and really spend some time thinking about how we can engage different groups of the wider community in the work that we do. We are aiming to secure a studio space in the next year so that we can begin to provide affordable creative space to aspiring artists, musicians and poets in Sheffield. Establishing a physical hub for RiteTrax will also see us take our first steps towards holding creative workshops aimed at developing creative and digital skills in the community. This will likely see the development of the RiteTrax record label too and all of the potentialities that may bring.
Our aim is to ultimately create a sustainable physical and digital platform for underground culture whereby existing creatives can come together to create and collaborate and aspiring creatives can come for support and guidance to begin their creative journey. The whole cross section of creative mediums from spoken and written word right through to projected visuals and banging beats should be encouraged, shared and represented.
By holding regular monthly showcase events which merge poetry, art, acoustic and electronic music as well as other creative forms, we aim to give those involved something regular to focus on and work towards that is quite unlike anything else. Other events such as our warehouse parties and festivals allow us to open up to other local businesses such as independent retailers, restaurants and community groups, emphasising notions of community cohesion and inclusion. Our RiteTrax on the Bole Hills festival was an example of how we can reach out and make an immediate impact on our local community with little more than a can do attitude and a supportive network of peers. With backing from the local council and a successful crowdfunding campaign we were able to provide the local community of Crookes with a fantastic day showcasing music, art, poetry and local businesses.
Our plans don’t end with events either, we want to encourage the development of a thriving community of artists that produce amazing original new art and provide the platform for it to be appreciated, whether that be onstage or online. As we develop and grow, you can expect to see our first series of music and poetry releases in addition to art and poetry compilations, both physical and digital. Along with the development of our physical space and activity, we aim to have an accompanying amount of digital content to showcase the journey.
Needless to say, after incorporating just over a year ago, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made in our first year of operations. After crowdfunding over £1500 to launch at Yellow Arch Studios in October 2015, we’ve since worked with over 100 artists and held regular monthly events in the city, promoting everything from spoken word and live art to bass music and street magic. We are very thankful for all of the support we’ve received in Sheffield, not only from all of the artists but from existing promoters, businesses and venue owners. A very special thanks must go out to the team at Golden Harvest, who invited us to make their venue the home of our monthly showcase night, allowing us to build the momentum we needed to be accepted for schemes like SSE. We couldn’t have done it without you! A special thanks must also go out to the amazing social enterprise Reform Radio, for their continued guidance and support, and for giving me and Adam the opportunity to host our own monthly radio show which now forms an integral part of platform. A big thankyou must also go out to all of the funders, not only SSE and o2 ThinkBig, but all of those who have donated to our numerous crowdfunding campaigns or attended our events. BIG UP!
To celebrate our first year as an incorporated social business, we are holding a very special creative culture showcase at Trafalgar Warehouse on Saturday 22nd October. Since our inception we have aimed to promote quality local artists, whether that be the mind-bending party bassline of Phatworld, the intricate paint work of Dala or the haunting ambient techno of Isis Moray. One way of doing this is for us to invite successful out-of-town artists to Sheffield to shine a light on the fantastic local scene here. We are so grateful to be in a position where we can invite one of our favourite electronic musicians of all time, A Guy Called Gerald, to join us for our 1st birthday celebrations for a 2 hour live hardware set. We’ve also got live sets from Korg endorsed Mistabishi & Isis Moray, alongside DJ sets from local bassline dons Dr Cryptic, Phatworld and Kabal resident Dj Pipes. It’s not just about the music though, there’ll be a live art showcase featuring live drawing and spraypainting, live spoken word and a full audio visual production. If you’ve not been to a RiteTrax event before, this is the time to come and get a taste of what we do.
Full event details on Facebook here, tickets available from the following outlets: Party For The People, Skiddle & Eventbrite. Here’s to our 1st year as a creative social enterprise, let’s hope that we have many more!