The programme involves targeted training, some provided centrally to all Fellows and some that I have been able to chose and attend separately. It also involves attending lots of conferences with topics such as The Future of Everything and High Level Creative Industries. I also get a Coach (what a treat), and a Mentor, (mine is the extraordinary Vicky Featherstone of National Theatre of Scotland, just appointed Artistic Director at the Royal Court).
Another part of the programme is an attachment/placement with an organisation where you work on a specific project at senior level. Fellows have placements in the TATE, the Southbank and the White House to name but a few.
I have been working at the Barbican looking at the organisation from within and without, and examining its relationship with key external stakeholders. Right now I am finalising a report with recommendations for the senior management team to action. It has been fascinating getting such insight into such an extraordinary organisation, not to mention attending fantastic artistic events such as Einstein on the Beach, The St Petersburg Philharmonic and the Bauhaus exhibition, as well as seeing these events being put together.
In relation to my project, I have conducted lots of interviews, had internal meetings with all the heads of departments, met with people running arts organisations, Olympic Legacy head, Arts Council head, MPs, councillors, artists, architects, political cultural advisors, producers and many more. Each conversation has been elucidating. Conversation is without doubt the best way of learning for me. Nothing I could read in a book would equal the fantastic open conversations I’ve been fortunate to have in past few months. I have also been looking at the Barbican’s digital strategy and have facilitated meetings between senior staff and the many people working in the organisation who are closet digital gurus!
The Programme continues apace, a selection of the areas I have had training in or am working on delivering work with my colleagues on are: Cultural Diplomacy, Advocacy, Finance, Strategic Planning, Philanthropy, Marketing and Branding, Governance, Coaching, Media training and many many more.
One of the key aspect of the programme is meeting with some of the most extraordinary Cultural Leaders who run the best known venues, festivals, museums etc and are so generous in discussing their experiences and most particularly their failures. I think in the main however we are all inspired by their diversity. Their generosity in opening up to us allows us to see there is no one kind of leader, there is no one model. We all learn to feel extremely capable by being who we are, not feeling we have to fit into any mold of what we imagine it should be to feel like a Cultural Leader. We learn to use our natural capabilities and talent to effect change. That is my immodest aim for when I return to Ireland, effect change. Change in the arts world and change in our society.
Wish me luck!