A Birthday Wish-list for ICN

Once a group like the INVISIBLE CITIES NETWORK, which promotes artists and their work, becomes established, what sorts of things does it need to keep going? Answer: Lots of sustained—and sustainable—energy, personal engagement, and fresh ideas from the people it attracts as members and friends. Rome was not built in a day, nor did it endure without the contribution of many. The INVISIBLE CITIES NETWORK celebrates its fourteenth anniversary on the first of April, 2015. I’d like to share my wish-list for ICN, for this year and beyond.

A room of one’s own. Over the years, our group has tried meeting in people’s homes, book shops, coffee shops, restos and theatre spaces. All of these had their appeal and their drawbacks. Some were too small, too noisy, cramped, poorly arranged, unreliable or expensive. What’s needed is a relatively central, stable, comfortable, free or inexpensive commercial or public site to get together, one in which refreshments are available, evenings and weekends.

The root of all good things. Although ICN has always functioned on a wing, a shoe-string and a prayer, over the years even some modest funding would have helped us to achieve more in the way of projects and events. Whenever possible, grass-roots organizations such as ours do need to enlist the talents of those gifted with the Midas Touch!

Mission IMpossible? On that very topic, the dreaded FUNDING APPLICATION comes to mind—Oy vey—in my jaundiced view, has there ever been anything so laborious, so intimidating, so often futile and downright intractable? Nevertheless, if there’s anyone out there with a different view, I am willing and delighted to be proven wrong.

Brains trust. Everything starts with an idea: such as building on the experience of hosting our Spoken Word & Cabaret Performances, as well as the ICN Creative Arts Conference of former years. As in the past, core activists within the group could get together to plan new ventures and, as far as possible, maintain them.

Virtual book tours. For example, along with social media sites like Goodreads and Scribd, a virtual book tour could be a novel way (no pun intended) to showcase our authors’ books by genre, topic or theme, whether newly published or not. What is a virtual book tour? In essence, the idea is to contact established online bloggers and blogmeisters who might be interested in featuring, commenting, or even reviewing a book or eBook, helping to publicize it and hopefully ‘create some buzz.’

Permanent book reviews online: Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get self-published books reviewed in most commercial publications. So there’s an obvious need to provide reader reviews for our author-publishers’ books. Previously, the Invisible Cities web site featured theatre reviews online, but we have yet to establish the same web presence for books. For this, we’d need keen volunteer reviewers willing to provide brief, fair and objective book reviews, so as to enhance the visibility of (self-published) authors and their books, online.

ICN online Anthology or Journal. A few years ago, we attempted to create our first open-submission literary anthology. Once the book layout was almost complete, the project stalled, and then was mothballed, in part due to lack of funds for printing. Now may be the time to refashion, update, and issue the first ICN Anthology as an eBook instead.

ICN Podcast. The software and technology is available to record, post, and archive online interviews and news about our authors and artists. Perhaps some enthusiastic ‘techies’ might come forward for the challenge and the fun!

ICN Video and webcast. On that note, of course there are the opportunities offered by YouTube, which features everything from amateur home video clips to the high-definition screen. Naturally, we can and do create these videos individually for ourselves, but there is something to be said for a promo series of artists and writers, posted on the web site of an established artistic-literary ‘brand.’

ICN Theatre Workshop. While I was living in Britain, I met a 70-something lady who belonged to a volunteer group called the Over-70s Theatre. Over time, they became so successful they were actually traveling to Berlin, Germany, to stage a performance there. Hence, a longstanding ‘folly’ of mine: the notion of setting up an informal facility to create and develop original theatre scripts and, where possible, to spotlight and dramatize segments from our members’ published books.

So concludes my wish-list for ICN. Contributions and ideas are very welcome: Please email: christina at princechameleon.com Website: www.InvisibleCitiesNetwork.org

Christina Manolescu, Founder of Invisible Cities Network, © 2015