CLP Re:Freshers : The Story So Far

After an invigorating and thought provoking array of 22 ninety second speeches at Wednesday night’s drinks reception – listen via the Audioboo box here – the Wellcome Collection opened its doors to a swarm of leadership talent on Thursday morning for the first of two packed days of events and the conference centre has been buzzing ever since.

In Keynotes for the 21st Century Dr Nina Smith invited three wildly different cultural leaders to present their stories and views on the road ahead. Writer and journalist Gary Younge asked of the phrase cultural leadership “whose culture, how to lead and where?”, and discussed political correctness and tokenism. Musician and businessman Feargal Sharkey discussed mavericks, describing the UK music industry as one of the most entrepreneurial organisations in the world. Sarah Weir, Head of Arts and Cultural Strategy at Olympic Delivery Authority, focused on positivity, not giving in to the doom and gloom and being clear about what you want. “If you’re not quite sure when times are difficult – leave it.”

Feargal Sharkey’s Keynote:

Journeys & Discoveries brought Paul Boateng, Clayton Shaw, Padma Rao, Paul Gladstone Reid and Sol B River together to lead a discussion on support, celebration, a proper understanding of globalisation and working on having a mindset that’s fit for purpose. Rao asked “how do you mix primary colours to get multiple shades out of them?” and “how tuned in are you with your strengths?”, suggesting people consider what narratives they want people to remember. Gladstone Reid discussed the marriage of the cultural with the commercial, the idea that artists can have their feet firmly on the ground and have potent imagination at the same time. River gave the artist’s perspective, telling of his shift in to trying to make his career more sustainable by starting to look at policy and leadership. His photograph of Obama shaking a policeman’s hand on his way in to Downing Street has been very important to him:

Boateng introduced an old African saying – “it’s each and every feather that makes the eagle fly”, and talked of his struggle against being a silhouette – “a black one dimensional cardboard cut out” – and of the importance of understanding globalisation and building resilience. “Managing diversity isn’t an optional extra, it’s an absolute imperative.”

Here’s a live blog recording of the Journeys and Discoveries session:

Leadership Emerging From Practice was a sparkling “in conversation” with Helen Carnac, Nina Edge, Kate Fox and David Jubb, discussing the trials, tribulations and successes of artist practitioners ‘embedded’ in arts organisations. Edge spoke of her experience at FACT where curators looked at 20 years of work – “there’s an aspect of leading accidentally that emerged”. Carnac talked about collaboration and “making in society”. Her placement at Craftspace was a very reflective one, bringing makers together to lead from practice. She emphasised the importance of sharing, “the placements need to be a two way conversation.”

So far this week there has been much mention of austerity, cuts, uncertainty, doom and gloom but the focus is on the need for resilience, innovation and creativity. The buzzing networking events and enthusiastic group discussions on the subjects of diversity, celebration and resilience place importance on sticking together, collaborating and thinking creatively.

Meanwhile the Amplified team have been talking people through the brand new, free and easy to use CLP Network: a place for alumni to connect, discuss and potentially collaborate. After Re:Freshers Week some of the content we’ve gathered will appear in the network to encourage future discussions on the wealth of ideas and information that was covered, but for now you can explore it all on the CLP re:freshers 2010 page in words, audio, photos and video.

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