I applied for the Arts Council of Wales bursary to attend the Small-Scale Development Programme as I am fairly new in post running Span Arts and wish to re-energise the organisation. The organisation suffers from a wide range of challenges, coupled with the fact that it serves a rural area and I was in need of some inspiration.
Leicester, was a long way to go from deepest West Wales to find some kindred spirits and a shot of expertise and advise. I was worried the journey wouldn’t be worth it, but as soon as I arrived at College Court, I felt inspired and that I had met a group of people who were all struggling with very similar challenges.
In fact, I instantly saw one delegate publishing on Hootsuite, whilst I chatted to another about all of the responsibilities she covered in her role and I knew I had found the right place.
The course tutors were an inspirational team of professional women who shared an inordinate amount of experience and expertise between them. Each tutor had an almost uncanny knack of cutting through any waffle to get the most salient points of all of the topics covered.
I was particularly inspired by Mel Larsen’s session on vision, who asked the poignant questions about why our organisations exist and what the future would look like without them. She told us to imagine what the world would look like if all things were possible and backed it up by sharing ambitious examples of others. She spoke of Oxfam, who strive to achieve a ‘world without poverty’ and reminded us to articulate a vision that was aspirational rather than achievable. This seemed like a brilliant idea to me. I also found my 121 with Jo Taylor a real boost. She told me to take it slow and that great things can still be achieved by stealth and with patience.
Throughout the 2 days I kept meeting like-minded, creative and courageous individuals. I was thrilled with the national remit of the group, and the fact that at one point you could sit next to someone who was a specialist in Italian baroque music and another time talk to someone about belly dancing.
Key things I’ve learnt:
- We are not alone and the challenges we face are not all of our making!
- That folk and contemporary dance are hard artforms to sell everywhere, not just in Pembrokeshire!
- That we would benefit from using more creative ways to find out what people think and want.
- That people who work in the arts sector are lovely people.
The course was intense and I absolutely loved the way that it was kept on schedule. It was really respectful of everyone’s busy lives and ensured that we didn’t waste a minute!
It’s very rare to access such high quality professional development in the arts from Pembrokeshire, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. All I need to do now, is find the time to implement the lessons learned to help find a robust way forward for Span Arts.