Bettakultcha arrives at Leeds Town Hall!

A couple of guys have an idea, get it going then make it up as they go along avoiding any sort of sponsorship deal, arts grant funding, or bank loan. Guess where they end up after three years of travelling to the most interesting venues of the Leeds area? Yup, Leeds Town Hall. Ivor Tymchak explains what’s next …

Is Bettakultcha set to become the Calendar Girls of Leeds? It’s a similar story but with less nudity. In fact, one of the Bettakultcha protagonists always insists in keeping his hat on. The Hollywood offers aren’t rolling in just yet for the duo behind the Bettakultcha phenomenon but the offer of a civic building right in the centre of Leeds in the meantime suggests that they won’t be too long in coming.

Ivor Tymchak and Richard Michie are two opinionated guys who met one night three years ago at a creative networking event. Such was their loathing of some aspects of the commercial world (but in particular the woeful state of slide presentations) that they decided to do something about it. They came up with Bettakultcha and used the format of 20 slides, 15 seconds each, no sales pitches for each presentation.

Their first event acquired some provenance by being in that masterpiece of Victorian eccentricity, Temple Works in Holbeck. On a frosty February evening the unheated boardroom held thirty or so of the most influential and feared artists from the Leeds cognoscenti. What happened in that room on a strange and magical night was alchemy, the practice of turning base metals into gold.

The ingredients of Bettakultcha are so unassuming, so commonplace that it would appear nothing remarkable could spring from them: volunteers give slide show presentations about their passions, no sales pitches are allowed, there is never any theme, some presentations are improvised and promotion is done mostly through Twitter. But that is the magic of anything that is greater than the sum of its parts; it shouldn’t work so brilliantly, but it does.

And as the experiments progressed different laboratories were used; Dock Street Market, Left Bank, Brudenell Social Club, the Corn Exchange – even other cities, and it became apparent that the first few successes were not simply flukes. The gold kept appearing. But then something else unexpected happened: the gold got purer. By a virtuous process of creativity, the presentations simply got better and the presenters more confident in their delivery. The event had taken on a life of its own.

This is the same alchemy that gave birth to punk music in the late 70s. Despite what the mainstream media tries to tell you, you don’t need to be an expert to produce something of interest, an enthusiastic amateur can come up with a subject for a five minute presentation which is far more interesting than anything a dancing monkey boy on TV can yodel for his puppet masters. You’ll either get this, or you won’t.

So the glittering gold became noticed by the good burghers of Leeds Town Hall and they imagined that some of it would look well amidst the splendid details inside the magnificent Victoria Hall. It is right and fitting that the cultural wealth of Leeds should be shared amongst its people and it is with great pleasure that Ivor and Richard announce the Bettakultcha event on January 9th 2013 at the Leeds Town Hall.

Kudos too to Leeds City Council for embracing this cultural revolution. Let’s see what the future brings.

Tickets are available from the Town Hall Box Office online and in person. Be quick, they’re bound to all go.


    1. Hi Nick,

      Whilst the format of the actual PowerPoint slides is the same as Ignite and other presentation events like Do Lectures, Pecha Kucha, Flash talks and even short talks at TED and TEDx. Where we differ is the atmosphere of the event, they are never themed, so talks can be on any subject. Anyone can apply to speak, so we cover all areas of the interest and we run the event more like a cabaret than a lecture.

      I guess as the famous song goes “It ain’t what you do, its the way that you do it” I hope you come along to find out.

    2. Hi Nick, I hope we never give the impression that we somehow ‘invented’ the format of so many slides in so many seconds because we clearly didn’t. As Richard has pointed out, we have simply stamped our brand on the format.

      Richard and I care a great deal about the organisation, presentation and promotion of Bettakultcha. Not being constrained by some other company’s branding of the event through sponsorship or grant funding means that we have a free hand in tweaking any aspect of the experience that we feel could be improved.

      It is probably this attention to detail that makes all the difference.

  1. Just goes to show what simple ideas can achieve.

    When I first heard of Bettakultcha via social media I had little idea what to expect; just that those ‘in the know’ were passionate about it.

    I’ve since been to, and enjoyed, four or five evenings of what I’d probably describe as ‘thinking person’s standup’.

    That in itself would be an achievement for Ivor and Richard, but they’re already taking the concept into other fields. As an example, We’ve used Ivor at Leeds Trinity to work with second year journalism students on improving their presentation skills. We use a variation on the ’20 slides – 15 seconds – no pitching’ mantra to inject some life into their end-of-module PowerPoint evaluations.

    I’m sure ‘the Bettakultcha method’ has many applications, and it’s great that Leeds leisure services people have latched onto a home-grown product and given it the chance of exposure at the Town Hall.

    1. Thanks for the endorsement Richard (and the opportunity to help out at Leeds Trinity). As excited as we are about the achievement of securing Leeds Town Hall for a BettaKultcha event, I suspect that you are right; the other applications for the BK template are only just being realised.

  2. Great news. Just a word of advice about getting tix. For the International Beer Festival at the Town Hall there was a booking fee for buying tickets online. However, if you called the box office there was no booking fee(!)

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