Hosting The Silent Launch

Each year, to ignite the Fire Starter Festival, we hold a launch event, to bring together the Fire Starter community with key speakers, policy makers and academics, illuminating the condition for fires of change across public services. Previous launch events have been held as conference plenaries, with guest speakers, table discussions, and power point presentations. While the content provided by the speakers and generated by participants was strongly related to the Fire Starter ethos, it became apparent that the event design was following fairly bound and traditional principles, and did not truly demonstrate the core Fire Starter principle of modelling creativity, innovation and risk.

For the launch of Fire Starter Festival 2018, we felt that the time was right to take a chance, and hold an event in a creative and innovative way that still provided the impactful, meaningful and inspiring content to the participants.

FSF launch headphones

The Silent Launch was designed to allow participants to engage with not just the content of the day, but with the venue in a fresh way which would help them to gain new insight into the topics shared. The design centred around the ‘silent disco’ technology, which allowed participants to hear the content broadcast directly to their headsets, giving them the freedom to move through the galleries at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and interact with an exhibition which sparked their imagination.

FSF launch 2This process also allowed participants to interact in a different way with the speakers and the recorded content. By broadcasting directly to participants through their headsets, participants were able to reach a deeper level of listening more easily [1], and were more able to become absorbed in engaging directly with the content. It was also important to hold the event in a public space like Kelvingrove – not only is it demonstrating how we can use public assets in creative ways; it also allowed us to open the event to the general public. Anyone who visited Kelvingrove during the Silent Launch was able to hear the speakers, as all content was broadcast in the main hall via a PA system. This again fits with the Fire Starter Festival ethos of keeping events – and the festival as a whole – open and accessible to all.

Silent Launch FM

The morning was opened with a key note speech from the First Minister, who set the tone for the day and emphasised the importance of movements like Fire Starter Festival in creating lasting change in Scotland.

‘The movement you’re trying to lead – one which kindles sparks of ambition and initiative into fires of change – is therefore of fundamental importance. It brings organisations and individuals together, in an environment which encourages new ideas and new ways of working. Bringing together and harnessing your vast range of expertise, is essential in tackling the key challenges we face.’

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister

The Silent Launch was themed around The Year of Young People, and each of the speakers at the event were chosen due to their work to make Scotland the best place for children and young people to grow up and reach their potential . We gave each of our keynote speakers the freedom to choose where they wanted to speak from – some chose to speak from within the galleries, others chose an artefact that resonated with them. One of our speakers chose to use the ‘Madonna mic’ and walk around the main hall – and was asked by a tour group – mid speech – for directions to the toilets! In addition to our live speakers, we had a number of podcasts, produced by Young Scot, which shared the views, hopes and aspirations of Children and Young People – and some ‘fiery’ tunes to get people moving!

If you weren’t able to join us at the Silent Launch, this short video and some of the feedback from the participants might help give you a flavour of the day.

“Being able to listen to the speakers and tour the galleries. It felt good to move around and not be so constrained by having to sit still and listen”

“Just even the idea that a meeting could be held in such an open way challenged me. That I could walk freely through the galleries mingling with nursery kids and tourists whilst listening intently to though leaders sharing their stories was really exciting. I found I focused more intently and mindfully on what people were saying when walking around the galleries and the private books provided a safe space to express emotion – I was at times moved to tears by some of the personal narrative shared.”

“Innovative approach – moving around and the headphones made concentrating and networking with colleagues very deliberate and considered. Was so different and engaging, I think I’ve retained more post event than have in many previous events I’ve attended over the years.”



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