Today, I am the bearer of sad news. On the 2 June 2015, IdeasTap will shut its doors. It is a painful day for me, and for the whole IdeasTap team.
Over the last six years we have worked hard to make IdeasTap what it is today, and I am enormously proud of what we and our members have achieved together. Ultimately, however, we simply do not have the funding to continue - although we will honour all existing commitments to our members, partners, funders and suppliers.
I set up IdeasTap in 2008 amid the fast-growing global financial crisis. My trustees and I could see the impact it was going to have on young people leaving education and, in particular, we were concerned about those entering the arts and creative industries. We wanted to do something about it, and IdeasTap was our response: funding for creative projects, unique industry opportunities, training, advice, online and offline networking, job listings and more - all for free.
We've grown quickly, with just shy of 200,000 members across the UK today and millions of people visiting our website every year. We've given away more than £2.3m in funding and mentoring to our members and 62,000 people have benefited from opportunities we've created. That's quite aside from those who have met collaborators through our site, found jobs or been inspired by our editorial and advice.
But these numbers can't begin to tell the true story of IdeasTap. That tale can only be told through our members - phenomenally talented young people making bold, innovative, challenging new work. People like you.
Despite our success, to-date IdeasTap has been primarily funded by my charitable trust. Our efforts to secure government or corporate support have failed - and my charitable trust, which was set up in 1999 to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK, will soon run out of money. The result, regrettably, is that IdeasTap will close three months from now.
I want to thank the brilliant IdeasTap team, the wonderful arts organisations we're partnered with, the countless industry experts who have donated their time as mentors, judges, speakers and interviewees - but above all, I want to thank you, the members. You have inspired us every day, and made working here a rare privilege for us all.
After six years, the picture for the arts is still gloomy. Further funding cuts are coming. The cost of higher education is now dauntingly high. The recent Warwick Report suggests that the arts are not catered for by government agencies, and that arts education is steadily being marginalised - despite the huge value the creative industries offer the UK, both culturally and financially. I hope they wake up, and soon.
If running IdeasTap has taught me one thing it is that we have an incredible pool of creative talent in this country, who - given the chance - have an enormous amount to contribute to our culture, our society and our economy. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
I know that many of you will have questions and, to help, my team have created a set of FAQs which will hopefully cover many of your concerns. Please be reassured, though, that all of our existing commitments to members, partners, funders and suppliers will be honoured - and in fact we are today launching a series of special competitions and training events to thank our members that will see us through the next three months. We want to go out with bang - not a whimper.
Finally, if you have any thoughts or memories of IdeasTap to share, please leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you.