IdeasTap is fantastic. For those not in the know it provides opportunities for networking, funding, and career growth for emerging creatives in Britain. To my knowledge it’s almost unique in that it includes people from all disciplines. There’s no snobbery, and you don’t have to have achieved anything much. All you need is to be willing to interact and to try things out and you’ll get along just fine. There are all kinds of weird and wonderful people on there, and it’s a brilliant resource, even if the only thing you use it for is the social networking.

But there’s so much more to it than that. I’ve heard about and applied for more creative jobs through Ideas Tap than I care to mention. I’ve signed up to get free head shots, and been able to attend seminars about tax for freelancers (in the hope that one day I’ll be one).

As we speak, one of my friends is using the crowd funding facility to get a great show up to the Edinburgh Fringe. It’ll have tie ins with schools and a political element, too. IdeasTap members don’t just use the opportunities they get for their own gain – they’re public spirited, and interested in making real changes for the better.

Ideas Tap also allows members to gain experience where they might not otherwise have had a chance. I won my first ‘brief’ in 2012. It was for writers, and gave me the chance to go to Birmingham and work with High Tide for two days, exploring what it would take to get my writing on stage. At the time I was truly miserable, stuck in a hellish job, and really doubting if I’d ever get the chance to do anything remotely interesting with my life. Winning that brief gave me a glimmer of hope and spurred me on. I admit right now that I haven’t kept up my ties with High Tide. However, I’ve got 3 extra years worth of notebooks full of scribbles and I’ve had other successes because I was – this sounds wanky and I really apologise – inspired to keep going at that crucial point when I was about to give up on everything.

I’m very vocal in my belief that creative people don’t really need an extensive period of study to do what they do. You don’t need a load of degrees to be a photographer, or a PHD to be a filmmaker. Are you an artist? Great. Grab a sketchbook. A writer? Lovely. Pick up a pen. A Musician? Awesome. Choose your instrument. Now sit down and do your thing. Realistically, regardless of what happens we’ll always be creatives to some extent. But in so many cases Ideas Tap has proved to be the difference between someone who does something on the side (and there’s no shame in that – some of us have to) and someone who can do their thing full time. The right connection made here, the right brief won there, the right funding secured at the right time…. Anything could be the key to an amazing future. And I don’t know anywhere that makes those opportunities as accessible as Ideas Tap.

In the coming months the news is going to be dominated by politicians making all kinds of empty promises to woo older people into voting for them. It would be so easy for the voices of relatively few young artsy types to get drowned out in all of the noise. We can’t let that happen. We all need to do whatever it takes – campaign, rally, shout from the rooftops if that’s how you want to go about it. Whatever your thing, we need to save Ideas Tap.

Add your voice here: http://www.saveideastap.com/

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