Putting your money where your mouth is, and putting your mouth on the side of a building.


Richard Bolam presenting James Wallbank of Access Space Network with a fat cheque.

Or, as we say in South Yorkshire, UK, “put up or shut up”, more internationally interpretable as “you talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?”. What this all means in common parlance is that if you want something to happen, then you need to make it happen.

You may or may not be aware of Access Space, Sheffield, UK which is a charity that operates a free, open-access media / arts lab, with a rapid commercial prototyping lab attached. They offer lots of free services, as well as paid-for consultancy and training.

I have been a “Spacer” on and off for 12 years and am a big fan of what they do there.

To cut to the chase, the charity is desperately short of money, partly due to the contraction of  arts funding, but also the general commercial malaise in the UK. They have three fundraising schemes in operation and I have subscribed to two of them. One is a “Friends” scheme where individuals can commit a few pounds a month to supporting the organisation. I have been paying £10 per month for some time, but a small contribution scheme like this needs lots of sponsors.


My mouth was so big they had to take the front door off to get it in.

Another is the just-launched “Sponsor-a-day” scheme where you can “buy” a day for the amount in pounds sterling equal to the day number of the year. What that means is that January 1st costs £1, January 2nd costs £2 and so on. As soon as the scheme was announced I bagged 24th April 2013, day 114 ( my 49th birthday) and I designated it as the official launch of the beginning of the countdown to my retrospective year 24th April 2014 to 23rd April 2015.

The third scheme, which I can’t afford but other people may be able, is  “100×100” where they are looking for 100 sponsors per year who can afford £100 each per month.


Myself and sound artist Sunshine Gray in my purpose-built branding booth.

For my purposes I used the space and the outside of the building as a publicity stunt and satire on branding and promotion. I invited people to come and talk to me about my upcoming Retrospective project, and also provided old-school snacks, drinks and competitions. It was a huge success with so many people I didn’t get a break all day.

So, I’ve done my bit, and now it’s your turn.


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