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2nd October 2017 Bea Udeh

Incremental agile experiments lead to seismic changes #ADA

Project name: Colston Hall Extension
|| Location: Bristol City Centre
|| Description: Extension built in 2009 with wind turbine and solar
|| Architect: Levitt Bernstein
|| Developer/Client: Bristol City Council
|| Main Contractor: Willmott Dixon
|| Project Value: £20 million

ADA 2.0 Fellow, Sarah Robertson has noticed how the changes at Colston Hall need shouting about.  Now all that is needed is for the seismic conversations about the organisation to gently erupt.

About six months have passed since our announcement to change our name, and it is fair to say that two main things are happening:

  1. Our organisation is slowly becoming more confident and about our life-changing decision and dealing positively with the consequences and;
  2. Being part of the ADA is really helping me to break down actions and activities into manageable steps that can really make a difference

My work is less about experiments and more like a series of projects that are adding to the overall view of the whole. One of our issues is that Colston Hall is still pretty isolated on the issue – we need to work harder to bring ourselves more positively into the conversations happening in the city and engage more with audiences who might have felt before that the Hall is not for them.

For us, to achieve the above we need to act; to forget our nervousness around such a sensitive subject and use our music and creativity to do the talking. As Carrie Blake from Broadway said in my recent Action Learning Set, “Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” In other words, just do it!

So, we’re taking action in three main areas:

Artistic project – We are commissioning an artist to help us devise, create and run a community-based project with an artistic output to explore Bristol’s relationship with the name Colston and Bristol Music Trust’s position within the debate. The finished art piece will be a catalyst for conversations around the name – we will have created something that sparks discussion and debate, and will have given communities the opportunity to openly discuss their feelings around the name Colston. This is a real case of using art and creativity to explore an issue.

150th birthday celebrations – We want to ensure that our commitment to diversity is reflected on our stages. Our 150th birthday in September is a great opportunity for us to present a rounded and diverse musical programme at a high profile event and to encourage diverse audiences to attend. I have been working with our programmers to explore booking diverse acts, creating a welcoming atmosphere on the night by dressing down stewards and front of house staff and targeting print and communications at particular areas of the city to encourage new and diverse attendees.

Stakeholder mapping – I am working on a stakeholder mapping exercise to perform two tasks:

  • Identify our allies and think about how they can help us become more centrally aligned in the city wide conversations and;
  • Identifying our detractors and thinking about how we can bring them on the journey with us and identify more positively with our story

Hopefully doing this will help us to feel more comfortable internally about having an actionable plan to change our situation.

The relative ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of these projects in relation to such a seismic organisational shift will be hard to measure, but again, ADA have helped me to focus on the incremental rather than the overwhelming.

Watch this space for the results!