Creative Dundee

Blog: Two Years of Virtual Amps Breakfasts

Illustration: Lucy Dewar

In March 2020, our regular in-person Amps events moved online. Two years later, we reflect on how this shift to digital has benefited our network.

This week saw us hosting our 84th online Amps Breakfast, and today officially marks two years since we invited our Amps network to gather online after a nation-wide lockdown began. We had no idea that these opportunities to come together would become an anchor in the weeks of our community and team CD, or that they’d have such an impact in shaping and strengthening our network. Despite widespread digital fatigue, it turns out that sharing space online can spark the same warmth felt when we’re physically in the same room. Throughout this blog, you’ll find some words from Amps supporters alongside our own.

“It quickly became a lifeline to the outside world for me, as it did for many. To be able to socialise and have a discourse with others over a period where that otherwise would’ve been impossible was incredible and irreplaceable.”

On launching, our weekly online gatherings aimed to create space for comfort, openness and togetherness in a time of isolation and uncertainty—the impact of which was strongly felt by freelancers, who make up much of our network. We’ve held on to that care and connection as we’ve continued, watching these morning get-togethers blossom into a platform of support, a prompt to collaborate and—quite frankly—a joyous boost that we can carry into the rest of our weeks.

At each Breakfast, everyone has an opportunity to take the floor, even if it’s just to answer a quick and easy icebreaker question. Being randomly sorted into smaller breakout rooms mimics the possibility of ‘bumping into’ either someone new or a familiar face to have a chat with. Discussion prompts provide conversation starters, and a Pass the Mic—echoing the popular platform at PechaKucha Nights—before the end means you can share an upcoming event, your updated portfolio, or even just something you’ve recently watched or read that you think more people should know about.

“It’s just brilliant to be connected to other creative folks and hear about other people’s work and be able to bounce ideas around. My creative spark has come out from hibernation as a result.”

These morning sessions have been the starting point for commissions, collaborations, and clarity. There’s an ease in knowing that even if you can’t come along every week, it’ll be there for when you can. The awkwardness of walking into a room full of people you don’t know and inserting yourself into conversations is all too familiar, so having a welcoming space where you might end up chatting with an architect, a games designer, an events manager, musician or printmaker—whilst having some insightful exchanges along the way—beats the stuffy image of networking (even though that’s what we’re all doing!) that many people avoid.

Over two years, we’ve heard from 73 people across the city about their work and workspaces through Open Your Drawers. Two people in our team, Claire and Jen, have hosted almost exactly half of the Breakfasts each. We’ve held over 80 discussions on topics ranging from “what good can design do for our city?” to “how do we define what we do to others?” to “what’s piqued your curiosity recently?”. And we’ve recorded 66 ‘Amps waves’ as the hour ends, right before we each head into our individual Tuesdays.

“Amps has changed how I view myself. When I first joined I used to call art a hobby. I’m confident that this will be the year I call myself an artist which I fully put down to Amps and the platform it has given me to talk frequently about myself and instil a sense of confidence that I’ve never had before.”

Initially, these online gatherings were more of a stop-gap—a temporary solution to counter not being able to meet face-to-face. As time’s gone on, we’ve come to realise that connecting digitally can sit comfortably alongside events where we meet “in real life”—and for some people, for a host of reasons, they’re preferable.

So, what’s next for Amps Breakfast? How do we make sure this space evolves as the world around us tentatively moves forward, whilst holding onto what makes it special? This is a conversation we’ll continue holding with our network, making sure that Amps Breakfast serves its community and its purpose. We look forward to finding ways to invite new voices in, highlight more projects across the city, and complement these mornings with in-person opportunities, too. Whatever they hold, we’re looking forward to continuing to connect with our network—those already with us and those yet to join. Maybe we’ll see you on a Tuesday morning soon.

Amps summarising Breakfast in one word

This blog is one of several celebrating Two Years of Virtual Amps Breakfasts. Breakfast is a weekly opportunity that brings together supporters of Creative Dundee’s Amps network to chat and connect. New faces are always welcome—join Amps and come along!

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