Thursday 8th December, 2011
Whilst desperately looking for the professional development that would take my career to the next stage, I came across Sync Intensive 2011! Would the programme enable me to reconcile my disability, and notions about my disability, with my desire to become a leader in the creative sector? No other development scheme had come anywhere near answering this question. Would Sync Intensives 2011 be the one?
Since early 2009 I’d been concentrating on increasing my own leadership skills to deliver projects for myself and others. During this time, I embraced many valuable opportunities including the Clore Short Course and various Cultural Leadership Programme events.
However by June 2011 I knew that I had omitted one important area of development, namely ‘How do I operate as a visually impaired person working in the creative industries and be taken seriously’. For me this included issues about how people ‘see’ me, how much does the guide dog affect people’s behaviour towards me and how I know when I’m using the disability as an excuse/cop out for not getting down to something I should be doing.
Fortunately, Sync Intensive 2011 was then advertised and I spent the next month, on and off, thinking about and completing the application. I immediately recognised that the structure of the programme and the people delivering the content (Jo Verrent and Sarah Pickthall) were exceptional. So with baited breath I awaited to hear whether I was successful!
Once I had obtained one of the ten places, I wondered whether I was unrealistically hoping for the programme to be ‘a magic bullet’! Would it live up to my expectations?
The answer was ‘Yes, better than I could have hoped for, also being slightly different from what I had envisaged’. I expected the ‘Disability’ to be tackled very head on. However, the programme has been far more subtle and effective than that approach.
The two days, just over a month apart, when we all met up in London were not simply fabulous networking opportunities, but provided precious time to work on our internal energy and drivers (session one) contrasting with our external influence and social networking potential (session two). These sessions together with the three one-to-one coaching sessions and the opportunity to write an article about our practice, has given me confidence to endeavour to fulfil my creative goals, rather than hide away behind the disability and wait for something to happen.
Sync is currently under review for future funding from ACE, so the question needs to be asked ‘Whether Sync should continue and in what form?’.
Personally, I believe that it is essential that we offer inclusive programmes run by disabled leaders that can assist everyone to reach their potential. Disabled leaders often think that they have little to offer the mainstream/inclusive world. Thankfully Jo Verrent and Sarah Pickthall recognise that the inclusive approach to professional development is the only realistic way forward in the 21st Century.