The following guidelines provide a brief overview to people wishing to understand how to use technology and art for solving pressing social problems. However, if you decide to organise an event, please start by filling out our application form.
In this way, we can learn more about you, and share all our resources, including a detailed guidebook. It will help you get familiar with the process, so you can begin to plan organising your own event.
#1 Define the issue
The first and most important step is to select a human rights or social justice issue that you are deeply passionate about solving or a problem your organisation has been working on. Past Labs editions have dealt with issues concerning women’s rights, LGBTI rights, the shrinking space for civil society and much more. ACT Labs is a novel way to approach the issue that you have in mind and can lead to innovative new solutions or campaigns.
Once you’ve selected the issue, find out more about the problem. If you are not an expert yourself, think about reaching out to an activist or an organisation that has the expertise. Strong and compelling research should be at the foundation of the ACT Labs. Based on the analysis, create a brief for your participants who may be learning about the issue for the first time.
#2 Sponsors & Funding
ACT Labs is a non-profit endeavor. it is not meant to be used to make money, or to raise funds for charities or other organisations.
Similar to the organisation of any event, you will need to figure out your budget. Outlining your budget will give you clarity on your costs. This means doing a little research and calling up places to ask for prices on anything from venue rental and food costs to transport, marketing and swag items. ACT Labs provides all hosts with a welcome package that gives you detailed guidelines and tips on how to fundraise for your event.
To start, research the available grant schemes, for which your organisation is eligible in your country or region. Remember to start early since fundraising through grants is a lengthy process. Examples of potential grant-makers are ministries or national funds related to your topic or social innovation, non-profit organisations, private foundations, cultural institutions etc. You can also turn to sponsors such as tech companies, venues, food and beverage companies to help you cover the costs. You’ll be surprised at how many costs can be supplemented with in-kind donations. Also, use fundraising events or crowdfunding platforms to raise money for any aspect of an ACT Labs event.
#3 Participant Selection
The format focuses on bringing artists and techies to work together on solving pressing social issues. Each team consists of both an artist and technologist. Prepare a call for participants and distribute it through your event website, where you will explain the format, program, issue and present the jury members and mentors. Design inspiring visuals for your event that either focus on your issue or the types of participants that you are searching for. Blast the news by writing up a press note to media outlets that you think will reach your target audience.
Spreading the word will be crucial to securing participants in your event. Disseminate information regarding the competition and event through your already established social media channels. Reach out to artist and tech communities. Pin up posters on university campuses or give a talk on your issue. Once you have a good-sized pool of applicants of artists and technologists, review their applications and match those that are selected.
#4 Program Design
ACT Labs provides templates and tips on how best to structure and tailor your program based on a carefully tested approach.
Curate your event program. Think about how your opening and closing session will look like. Do you plan on including lectures such as design thinking sessions or lighting talks on idea generation, teamwork and collaboration or intersecting art and tech? Also, it’s important to schedule a presentation of the issue on focus so the participants are acquainted with the various facets of the problem you aim to tackle.
Besides the participants, who will be attending your ACT Labs? Mentors have a crucial supportive role in the process. There are four types of mentors that you will be looking for: communications/advertising mentors, art mentors, tech mentors and issue mentors. Mentors will carry out workshops with the teams to nudge them along.
Also, think about about who you will want to be on your judging panel or who will be attending your final pitching session?
Whether you are an institution, organisation or an activist, you will need to set up a team. A strong core team will be crucial to the whole organisational process. You will need people to handle various aspects such as communications, events organisation, logistics, tech etc. For the ACT Labs event, you will be able to handle the logistics management on your own.
Some of the key logistics questions include finding the right venue to host your event to providing meals. During the event, you most probably will need to engage volunteers to help you with anything from registration to live streaming. Documenting the event through video or photography will also be essential to show the results. ACT Labs provides hosts with a full checklist of different logistical and organisational components.