The day started off with an introduction to East Side Projects from Director, Gavin Wade. He told us about a compelling idea for ‘East Side’ to be a potential geographical marker for artistic social change, the east sides of cities often being the more historically deprived areas. This cohesion between the location of the building and the methodology of the organization created a buzz that was infectious. Sitting beneath Heather and Ivan Morison’s sculpture Black Pleasure, set the tone for the day as being one that was creative, inspiring and challenging.
The training was composed of different sessions, led by Mark Wright and Nicola Turner, both of whom brought their own experiences and leadership styles to the session. One of the main activities in the morning was drawing up a timeline of our placements, marking out significant events and specific turning points. My placement has been packed from start to finish, something which was evidently true across the board, and it was great to have the time and space to reflect on the last 12 months and everything that has happened. Seeing it written down on paper helped me to see patterns and notice which things had the biggest impact (even if it didn’t seem like they would at the time!). It was also fascinating to hear other people’s stories – the projects they had managed, their biggest challenges, anecdotes of when things hadn’t quite gone to plan and how problems were solved.
We then joined back together and Mark introduced us to a narrative-based methodology in which our experiences fit into the frame of a story, with people taking on different roles. He also spoke about the skills that creative people and companies have, skills which we often undervalue or disregard. It was particularly interesting to hear about his own journey and how he determined his own career goals and, in the process, created a bridge between corporate and creative sectors.
After lunch, we had two open sessions for anyone to bring forward discussion points and provocations. Conversations ranged from flexible working hours and management styles to being a woman in the arts and quiet leadership. It was great to have input from Mark and Nicola, especially because they have both had such different routes through into their current roles. The thing I found most valuable in these sessions though, was the potential solutions that came from other bursary recipients. We all work in such a wide selection of organizations and regions, which means together we have a huge breadth of knowledge and ideas. The snatched chats in tea and coffee breaks are always too few and far between and having the chance to hear how other people, who are at a similar point in their careers, proactively and creatively manage their own jobs was invaluable.
As I headed off to get my train back to London, I left with an even greater appreciation for all the opportunities I have had over the last 12 months and for the amazing network of young, creative people who, I believe, will continue to support and challenge each other long after this year is over.