How to write a bio – for artists, writers and musicians

As a grassroots venue that showcases new artists for the most part, we often see people struggling with writing a bio for the first time.

Making art is the easy part – Caroline Misselbrook doing what they do best!

In a culture where we’re taught not to blow our own trumpet or talk about ourselves too much, writing a bio can be really daunting!

A bio is about helping the people publicising your work and connecting with your audience. Usually, the person reading it already likes your work or has an interest in it, so is receptive and supportive from the get go – this is good to remember!

A bio is basically a story, it’s a narrative piece told to capture people’s imagination, so approach it as a creative project rather than a chore.

Here are some simple pointers, we’ve written these from the perspective of a venue using bios to promote artists, but they’re also applicable to bios for other uses:

1) Keep it short – around 50 – 200 words or less if you can manage it, as people rarely have time to read a long bio. You can always link to a longer one to say all you want to say, but keep the initial one short. Another way to approach this is to write a snappy, one or two sentence bio, followed by a slightly longer one, with more information lower down if people want to use it.

2) Write in the third person, so refer to yourself as ‘she/he/they/your pronoun’ rather than ‘I’.

3) To save time updating your bio, avoid info that dates it. For instance, your year of birth rather than your age, the date of your first exhibition or album rather than ‘last year’.

4) Include personal information and your influences and inspiration. Use your own tone and language, your bio needs to read as your voice, use the creative skills you have to write your bio. Also, if you are comfortable and it is safe for you to do so, talk about your identity and how it relates to your art – this can help draw in people who share some of your experiences.

5) Don’t forget to talk about your work, too! A personal bio is nice, but you’re talking about the art you make, which can be hard but is important to do. Genre and context help people decide if they want to learn more about you and it’s important to make your work sound worth checking out! A useful trick for this is to pretend you are bigging up somebody else’s work, like a ringmaster in a circus: ‘Roll up and see the magnificent, wondrous glory that is …..’, play with starting with this and really exaggerating how brilliant your work is – and then tone it down until it feels right. This helps to overcome reticence about ‘boasting’.

6) Include things that excite you about your artform – love of symbolic language, your enthusiasm for the instruments you play, how using ink thrills you … don’t be shy, that passion is what will interest people reading your bio. Also if you have a good story about how you found your artform, allude to it!

7) Include a photo of yourself, ideally engaging in making or performing your work, or if you’re a first timer with no performance photos yet, snap some with your instrument or in a place that inspires you. Some publicists will want a headshot, some like a full body shot, so if you can, include both. Also, if you use a special font or logo for yourself, include it!

8) Mention your achievements – this isn’t conceited at all, it is giving people an idea of your path so far and telling your story. Including positive reviews or quotes after your bio can also be really useful for somebody publicising your work. You need to make yourself stand out as worth your audience’s time and money.

9) Don’t forget a ‘call to action’ – invite people to follow you on social media, listen to your new album, view more of your work online, check out your book, come to your show etc. Put this right at the end so the publicist using your bio has the option to edit it out if their policy doesn’t allow this, but use your bio as a way of inviting people to engage with you in future.

10) Ask for help! Writing about yourself can be really tricky, so get some feedback from people who know your work and can help you describe it. Remember, you have to write your own bio in your words, but other perspectives can help you get there.

11) Stop putting it off! Having a good bio and basic publicity info is key to getting your artwork seen, so don’t keep your work to yourself – get your bio done and get it out there. Although the arts is a very competitive field and many artists experience barriers due to continuing inequality of access, and we never want to belittle the impact of these challenges, the most common issue we see across the board is artists standing in their own way by listening to their inner critics! Give that blockmonster the heave-ho, the world needs your art now more than ever.

One last thing – if you can’t do all of what we’ve suggested, do what you can. Imperfect and done is better than not done at all.

How about you? What things do you like to include in your bio or see in others?

Posted in Advice for artists, Behind the scenes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A little gratitude

Two years ago we were readying ourselves to fundraise for our future, and in Feb 2020 we raised £25K to support a change in direction to a more venue-based business model. Less than a month later, the pandemic closed our doors for most of the next 16 months.

Like so many others, we had to adapt! Today we run a social centre and arts space to keep our community fed, warm, connected and entertained through these challenging times.

Thank you to everyone who has kept us going over the past two years, moving us from what felt in some ways like a hopeless position to feeling truly useful through the pandemic and beyond.

For now, we continue to run community café events three days a week, a community pantry four times weekly and events online and off.

Who knows what the future will bring, but we’re so grateful to still be here ❤️

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Covid update Monday 29/1/2022

Covid update: TLDR we won’t be dropping all our measures this week – because we’re still in a pandemic.

We’re very glad to see infection rates falling and to have seen lower rates of hospitalisation and death in this latest wave, thanks to so many people now being vaccinated, availability of tests and better treatments for severe ‘rona – yay science.

Whilst this is good news overall, the risk remains stronger for the most vulnerable in our society and we will carry on keeping safe in order to ensure that those with underlying medical conditions can use our space and access our events more safely.

We aim to gently phase in less social distancing and a more relaxed, informal way of mingling as we move into Spring, but we’re not doing so just yet.

For now, we are still offering table service, spaced out seating, limiting our capacity and asking everyone to wear a face covering when moving around the space. We’ve set up good ventilation and will generally have the doors open unless it is absolutely freezing, in which case we’ll open doors for at least 10 minutes per hour as recommended by the WHO. Our air extraction system is on constantly and we monitor CO2 levels to ensure good rates of airflow.

Add asking all our crew to take a lateral flow test when they work and to wear face coverings, enhanced self isolation requirements for our crew and enhanced hygiene practices, we hope that those needing social contact and a place to come and meet people will feel safe and cared for here.

Our live events will continue to stream online on a pay-what-you-can as an ongoing way of making them more accessible. We have no intention of stopping doing this, please do support this decision by coming to our online events and spreading the word about them!

Thanks everyone for your continued support and encouragement. Stay safe and well!

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Inflation for ordinary people

We just shared this over on Facebook with a text description – adding it here as it’s important info to get out there.

Our community pantry might be seen as somewhere that folks who are unhoused use, and yes we do have regulars who are unhoused, living in hostels or vulnerably housed, but the vast majority of people using our pantry are housed and working.

The cost of living has gone up so much in the past two years and people are really feeling the pinch. We see it every day here.

Whilst our pantry helps in the short term, longer term this inequality needs to be addressed. Our ambition is for our pantry to be unnecessary – because food waste and food poverty are a thing of the past.

For now, sadly, it remains all too vital.

Huge thanks to our Patreon supporters and those who donate and pay forward items, helping us to keep this vital service going.

jack monroe
@BootstrapCook Twitter thread posted on 19/1/2022 – link to original thread:

Text reads:

Woke up this morning to the radio talking about the cost of living rising a further 5%. It infuriates me the index that they use for this calculation, which grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation as it happens to people with the least. Allow me to
briefly explain.

This time last year, the cheapest pasta in my local supermarket (one of the Big Four) was 29p for 500g. Today it’s 70p. That’s a 141% price increase as it hits the poorest and most vulnerable households.

This time last year, the cheapest rice at the same supermarket was 45p for a kilogram bag. Today it’s £1 for 500g. That’s a 344% price increase as it hits the poorest and most vulnerable households.

Baked beans: were 22p, now 32p. A 45% price increase year on year.

Canned spaghetti. Was 13p, now 35p. A price increase of 169%.

Bread. Was 45p, now 58p. A price increase of 29%.

Curry sauce. Was 30p, now 89p. A price increase of 196%.

A bag of small apples. Was 59p, now 89p (and the apples are even smaller!) A price increase of 51%.

Mushrooms were 59p for 400g. They’re now 57p for 250g. A price increase of 56%. (This practise, of making products smaller while keeping them the same price, is known in the retail industry as
‘shrinkflation’ and its insidious as hell because it’s harder to immediately spot.)

Peanut butter. Was 62p, now £1.50. A price increase of 142%.

These are just the ones that I know off the top of my head – there will be many many more examples! When I started writing my recipe blog ten years ago, I could feed
myself and my son on £10 a week. (l’ll find the original shopping list later and price it up for today’s prices.)

The system by which we measure the impact of inflation is fundamentally flawed – it completely ignores the reality and the REAL price rises for people on minimum wages, zero hour contracts, food bank clients, and millions more.

But I guess when the vast majority of our media were privately educated and came from the same handful of elite universities, nobody thinks to actually check in with anyone out here in the world to see how we’re doing. (Fucking terribly, thanks for asking.)

Every time there’s a news bulletin on the rising cost of living, I hope that today might be the day that that some real journalism happens, and someone stops to consider those of us outside of the bubble. Maybe today might finally be that day.

(But seeing l’ve been banging on about this for a decade now, it’s probably not going to be. Thanks for reading anyway, I appreciate it.)

And just to add:

  • an upmarket ready meal range was £7.50 ten years ago, and is still £7.50 today.
  • a high-end stores ‘Dine In For Two For £10’ has been £10 for as long as I can remember.
  • my local supermarket had 400+ items in their value range, it’s now 91 (and counting down)

The margins are always, always calculated to squeeze the belts of those who can least afford it, and massage the profits of those who have money to spare. And nothing demonstrates that inequality quite so starkly as tracking the prices of luxury’ food vs ‘actual essentials’.

To return to the luxury ready meal example, if the price of that had risen at the same rate as the cheapest rice in the supermarket, that £7.50 lasagne would now cost £25.80.

Dine In For £10 would be £34.40.

We’re either all in this together, or we
aren’t.

Spoiler: we aren’t.

Now, picture if you will, the demographic of the voter who has kept the current Party in power for the last 11 years. Imagine the Chancellor having to explain to them that their precious microwave dinner now cost almost four times what it did yesterday.

Yeah, didn’t think so.

I mean of all the things, the Prime Minister claiming that he’s cutting the cost of living while the price of basic food products shoot up by THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY FOUR PERCENT is the one l’m properly angry enough to riot over.

Posted in Behind the scenes, Community news & views, community pantry, Covid Updates, Fundraising, Future plans, Getting involved, Our philosophy | Leave a comment

End of year pantry update & thank you

It’s the last day of 2021 so we thought we’d extend a thank you and give an update on our proudest achievement, our first full year running our community pantry, sharing surplus food on a pay-as-you-feel basis to cut down on food waste and share food in the spirit of mutual aid.

Whilst we’ve been closed, we’ve had time to tidy up and restock our shelves ready for January, whilst also running a kerbside pantry in our entry way so that those relying on us would still be able to get supplies. We also set up a hot coffee station on the rainy days when we were in, so people could grab a hot drink to warm up.
Thanks so much to our Patreon supporters, 61 of you now donating a total of £333 monhtly, as well as our patrons on Paypal and by BACS who contribute another £200 or so monthly.

Thanks also to the people who paid forward a total of 15 hot drinks and 10 soups this month, which adds to the total from our regular Patreon supporters and enabled us to share warm drinks and food as well as groceries, whilst it has been so cold and wet.

Ways to support the community pantry:

Join our Patreon community – make a monthly regular donation and get access to behind the scenes posts, live broadcasts and a library of recorded events!

Pay forward a meal, hot drink, groceries or toiletries 

Make a one-off donation of any amount

Spread the word about our pantry so people know about it! 

Click here to Tweet about the pantry

Click here to share the link on Facebook

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#covid19 update

Although the mask mandate coming into effect this week does not apply to hospitality, we continue to ask all visitors to our pantry and takeaway to wear a face covering unless exempt. We also continue to ask folks to mask up when not seated at tables and to order at their table to avoid unnecessary mingling. We also keep our front and back doors open and have air extraction and a CO2 monitor to check we’re ventilating properly.

We will ask you to wear a mask when you come in and offer you one if you don’t have your own.

Our crew are all wearing face coverings and taking regular lateral flow tests. All of our paid crew have paid time off if they need to self isolate and have instructions to stay home if they have any suspicion that they’re unwell. This may sometimes disrupt our opening times, so please always check our page for updates.

Stay safe and well everyone – this is very exhausting but we know what to do and we’re doing it.

💉😷 ↔️🧼🙌🏻🧪 🪟

Please do not use this post as a forum to debate. Everyone who is impacted by this policy has been fully consulted and we require no more input. Thank you.

Posted in Covid Updates | Leave a comment

Hunting Hearts & friends are back with Yuletide Queer!

It’s about time Hunting Hearts returned to The Art House, their last gig being the now famous beforetime bash with BRASHER in March 2020 a few weeks before the national lockdown.

They’re back, and ready to… reads notes… Deliver you into a world of festive cheer? No, that can’t be right. They’re in the house presenting a laid back, intimate gig with old friends (Felix Russel) and new friends (Artemis), showing off some of their songs in a bit of a different context than you will be used to as a special Yuletide treat. So, bring your worst Christmas jumpers, it’s time to bring the trans agenda to Santa Claus.

Expect something a little like this:

Artemis are a 4 piece from Southampton usually known for powerful vocals, slammin’ riffs and sick beats, but we have invited them to tame their fury tonight for this one time special set… Expect some groove, chills, and thrills.

Felix Russel is a singer-songwriter from Southampton, using his teen angst for good by singing songs about toe fungus and heartbreak – we can’t think of anything more festive.

Join them in person (capacity limited to enable social distancing, so book early!) or online on Saturday 18 December 2021 in our downstairs #Bunker178 performance space.

Book here

2021-12-18T20:00:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Yuletide Queer

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Transgender Day of Remembrance 20 November 2021

Local groups have arranged a vigil at the Queens peace fountain on the evening of 20 November 2021 from 7pm

They will be holding space at the Peace Fountain and reading the names of those we have lost this year in remembrance – everyone please begin gathering from 6:45 for a 7pm start. Please remember that Covid is still a risk to people and to please allow for social distancing.

After the vigil, we’ll be hosting a poetry open mic from 8pm at The Art House. Booking is essential as numbers will be limited for Covid safety. Book here

https://tdor201121.eventbrite.co.uk/?aff=Blog
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What’s on for the rest of November 2021

A quick rundown of what’s on for the rest of this month:

Our community pantry and cafe will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 11am – 3pm serving hot & cold drinks, cakes and snacks, with pay-as-you feel soup, toiletries, groceries and clothing available.


Friday 19 November, doors 7.30pm / show starts 8pm – in person and online
Professor Elemental – book here


Saturday 20 November, doors 8pm – in person only
Transgender Day of Remembrance poetry open mic
Book here


Saturday 20 November 8pm – online only
The Travelling Talesman presents: Pages from Books Never Written
Book here


Friday 26 November, doors 7pm / starts 7.30pm, in person & online
Moving Voices Poetry & Song open mic with host RKP and special guest Aanka Batta
Book here


Saturday 27 November 1 – 3pm
Abolitionist Futures reading group
More details and booking here


Saturday 27 November, 8pm – online only
Lexi Wolfe presents: Mrs Oscar Wilde

Book here

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A reminder of why our pantry is so important right now

Jani here – I’ve just been catching up on emails after being in the kitchen making soup yesterday. I wanted to share one of them with you. I have also shared the recipe for the soup to our Patreon supporters here.

Somebody who works for the local Steps to Wellbeing contacted us, asking for more details about the pantry. They said that they are getting ‘more and more clients who are struggling to live on Universal Credit now that energy prices are rising and the uplift has ended.”

Asking for more info on when the pantry is open and what we provide, they said  “It might be a Godsend for some of my clients.”

We anticipate our pantry being very much needed over the winter, so thank you to every one of our supporters who enable us to keep it open and stocked up! 

Support the pantry with a regular donation by joining our Patreon community here.

Make a one-off donation of a hot drink, meal or groceries here.

Posted in Behind the scenes, Community news & views, Covid Updates, Customer comments, Fundraising, Getting involved | Leave a comment