Jan 05 2022
It’s that time of year when we might reflect on the last 12 months and hatch plans for the next. We might be orientating to ACE’s investment principles, focussing on an NPO funding application, realigning to a changed funding landscape or just relieved to see the end of a year that has challenged every aspect of our work.
Wherever our energy and particular focus lies, there are some absolute truths as we continue in our pursuit of a transformative, diverse, and equitable sector.
- There will be further uncertainty as we navigate the pandemic’s enduring impact.
- Our wellbeing, leadership, resilience and energy will be tested and stretched.
- Business models and income generation will need to iterate and adapt to changing circumstances, audience habits and preferences,
- The voices, work, ideas and connections we hold, share and develop must be equitable and empowering.
- Despite our very best intentions there will be mistakes made and lessons learned.
- The future of the sector depends upon talent, development, accessibility, change, ambition, partnerships, collaboration, communities and innovation.
- We have to demonstrate an unstoppable commitment to the climate crisis to lead, inspire, activate and mobilise beyond reducing our carbon footprint.
- Ambition, resolutions and intentions alone will not deliver results.
With this potentially overwhelming list (and that’s not everything), where can we invest our effort and attention? How can we turn good intentions and resolutions into transformative results? We’ve been actively listening to cultural leaders in organisations, freelancers, producers, curators, and under-represented voices to hear what is needed right now to unleash, unblock and transform the sector.
Empowered, enabled people bringing their best: People are our greatest asset. Real, embedded, transformative change doesn’t happen without collective energy, ideas and commitment. Our organisational culture, values, policies and working practices have to have a step change to enable everyone to bring and be at their best.
Equitable, skilled leadership for systemic transformation: A health check on leadership is essential. Bold decisions are necessary. To distribute power equitably, amplify underrepresented voices and create systemic change we need support, skills, opportunities and allyship.
Real change with real results: We might feel allergic to even more change right now but it remains inevitable and essential. To truly transform our organisations, we need to invest in change management – planned, resourced, co-created and brilliantly communicated. The alternative – stasis and irrelevance.
Continuous improvement to grow and flourish: We must create the space to learn, develop, reflect and test our thinking with peers. Taking this time might seem like a luxury, but transforming the sector won’t happen by chance. New technology, hybrid working, shifting habits, digital consumption have all had our attention out of necessity. Space and time for growth, iteration, collaboration and learning is a necessity.
So what is your resolution? How will you ensure your resolution leads to results? What are you promising to make happen in 2022 and beyond? What are you committing to in your NPO application? What extra skills, processes, insights, networks, capacity or experience do you need? How will you deliver new commitments alongside existing priorities? How can you continue to deliver incredible quality, outstanding work whilst addressing the challenges of uncertainty?
We’ve evolved our brilliant and over-subscribed Change Creation programme into Creating Transformation to answer these questions: a new programme designed by the people make it work team for the arts and cultural sector. We’ve been supporting organisations and individuals across the UK to create and embed transformational change for more than 20 years. The work we’ve done designing and delivering programmes including Change Creation, and Culture RESET has informed Creating Transformation – an initiative for these times – designed to support organisations, groups and movements to create radical momentum, overcome embedded resistance and create transformational results. Our programmes rely on practice that is necessary in all organisations and groups when we’re seeking to create quantum shifts – whether Creating Transformation is for you or not, I wanted to share my insight about what it takes to unleash and enable transformation:
- Urgency, momentum: Creating urgency to break through slow, incremental institutional rhythms, to generate a shared momentum that means everyone is in action
- Inevitable manifestation: Identifying the interventions to make intentions INEVITABLE and supporting leaders to build energy and action around those interventions.
- Unleashed agency: Embedding the conviction that everything we want to change is already someone’s job, and that change is done by people, not to them.
- Declarative practice: Promoting the definition of transformational promises and then the systematic, unstoppable delivery of those promises.
- Nuanced thinking: Understanding, navigating and responding to complexity with compassion and curiosity.
- Organisational reset: Recognising the norms and myths that enable complacency, creating leadership action to reset the narrative.
- Complexity and nuance: Understanding, navigating and responding to the dynamics and intersectionality of diversity.
- Co-creation and collaboration: Working with organisations, communities, people and peers different and similar to unite around a shared purpose and ambition.
Creating Transformation is an 18 month programme supporting arts, cultural and heritage organisations, groups and movements to work in these ways, creating dramatic results. Co-designed and co-created with the sector, we’ve shaped a programme that provides a supportive peer network, space, time and knowledge for learning and sharing, a focus on effective change management and leadership, and addresses the challenges in the sector – equity, accessibility, the climate crisis, developing and retaining talent.
Our focus for 2022 is supporting whole organisational growth, supporting people to lead, re-model, re-think and deliver transformative results that see the sector grow in relevance, sustainability, resilience and equity. What’s yours?