Step by step
You want to make or organise something, but you don’t yet know exactly how to go about it. How do you turn your ideas into a concept?
It is often useful to put the concept down in writing in a so-called initiative report, which can help when it comes to getting the project financed.
From first idea to concept
- Determine the reason and the background history. How specific are your ideas, and what stage is the project at?
- For whom is the project interesting? And is that for financial, artistic or other reasons?
- Do you have a patron or principal? Who is involved in the project?
- Does it cohere with other projects?
The mission provides a concise reply to the question: What is made or organised for whom? Anyone must be able to conclude from it what kind of result may and may not be expected. Add something to the mission about the image of your project. Will it be for an élite or low-threshold?
The mission also indicates the place that the project is intended to occupy and what makes it distinctive (positioning). The project is profiled with the image.
The target group(s) and objective(s) can be derived from the project mission and image.
Whom does the project target? Specify the ‘for whom’ of the mission in terms of target groups or market segments. You can distinguish between main and secondary target groups, such as friends and acquaintances or local residents. Make an estimate of the size of the target groups.
The profile of the target group is important too. It includes such aspects as frame of reference (favourite newspaper, TV programme or hobbies), age category, educational level and income bracket.
Specify the ‘what’ of the mission in terms of the different target groups. Formulate objectives for the different target groups.
The spin-off of a project has to be charted too: the side effects or the pros and cons of the project. These may be economic spin-offs in the form of extra catering revenue at the location where a festival is held. There may also be a social or cultural spin-off. Try to generate as many positive spin-offs as possible and to avoid negative spin-off for residents and the environment, for example.
Requirements and limiting conditions follow on from the chosen target groups and objectives. They may also be added to the project by the patron or principal. These requirements may apply to the result of the project or to the process that is intended to lead to this result. Requirements may refer to the costs, the type of staff (volunteers), the location or the time.
Often you may already have a fairly specific picture of the final result when you embark on a project, but then new possibilities and/or requirements crop up in the course of the process which change that picture. It is therefore useful to deliberately ask yourself now and then whether a different form or a different product might not be more suitable. The development of alternatives is a creative process that calls for an open atmosphere and the free exchange of ideas. Creative techniques to generate new ideas include think-tanks, visualisation and free association.
Make this choice on the basis of the objectives and project requirements:
- investigate the desired and undesired consequences of each alternative,
- arrange the alternatives in order of quality,
- ensure that there is a clear picture of the feasibility, the risks, and the time, resources and possibilities available,
- examine the alternatives critically and with an open mind.
What does this choice entail? In other words: What are the critical success factors? These may include availability of funding, expertise, accommodation, destination and other factors. The feasibility of the project is at risk if the critical success factors cannot be met.
Make sure that all of the items listed above are absolutely clear and that there is an unambiguous picture of the final result. You must also make clear how the project is different from other projects so that it can be communicated. You want to convince the public of why they should come to see your project.
The basis of a concept is often a statement, a short, succinct sentence that conveys its essence (like an advertising slogan). The particular character of the project and the desired image clearly emerge from the statement. It therefore plays an important function in communication with the surroundings. The statement can reinforce an image: take names like Kunstrai, Springdance. A particular theme or metaphor is often chosen (Kunstbende), the location (Over het IJ-festival) or the moment (Pinkpop).