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Sync 100: e-bulletin February 2010



Deadlines approaching!

A warning sign - red triangle with an exclamation mark in the centre

We are sending out the February bulletin a little earlier than planned as there are some critical deadlines coming up that we don’t want you to miss. In order of impending date, they are:

  • Leading in London: Sync Associates - Applications close on Monday 22 February 2010 - This is a real opportunity for you to experience leading in major London venues and with nationally recognised leaders through a partnership between the Cultural Leadership Programme and Arts Council England. There is one placement available for up to three months full-time or up to six months part-time at Whitechapel Gallery and a six month placement, in association with London 2012 as an Associate Producer with Unlimited. Information on how to apply can be found on the CLP website in the opportunities section

  • Leads into Leading: Bristol – on Wednesday 24th February 2010, 11 - 3.30pm - Sync is holding a leadership session with a twist in Bristol in the Light Studio at the Arnolfini Gallery. Bristol and the South West is the home of some of the most exciting artists and performers, and we are very excited to be tapping into this pool of talent. Jo Bannon will be the artist in residence on the day. For more information or to book a place, email

  • Sync Intensives – applications close on Sunday 28th February 2010 - this is our bespoke programme for 12 disabled people designed to take the Sync thinking and learning deeper. It will pair leadership learning and one-to-one coaching – you can find out more on the Sync website – and the application questions are up there too.

Why not push yourself in 2010 and take a risk by applying for or coming along to one of these opportunities? Leadership is often about challenging ourselves…

Go straight to the Sync website for more info on the opportunities available

Agreeing to disagree

..…be a quiet little crip, without a chip…... (Ian Stanton in the song ‘Chip on yer shoulder’, 1995)

Two identical twin babies in a buggy, each looking away from each other as though they have had a row.

Leadership often involves challenging others. As a leader, you might have different opinions to others and need to make your feelings known. However, there are many ways to disagree. Our new article up on the website this week is all about disagreements and how we can disagree more constructively.

When we started Sync, we had an online forum for people to discuss and debate. We knew that just because we were all disabled people that didn’t mean we’d all agree on everything – why should it? We wanted to open up a channel where people could reflect and question. Being a leadership forum, we expected the discussions to be calm and moderated, with people genteelly agreeing to disagree when issues arose. We’d forgotten how passionate people are, how much they care about their opinions, and how different words mean different things to different people. We also forgot how divided we become when we realise not everyone thinks in the same way as we do, how quickly we can take sides and use our power to exclude, as well as include, the opinions of others.

Within the disability movement there is much to disagree about and similarly within the arts and cultural fields. Just because you share one element of your identity or interest with someone else, it doesn’t follow that everything else you think, feel and do is going to match up. Why should it?

You might expect that because we, as disabled people, recognise that sometimes we do things differently, we’d be good at dealing with difference, but it's not always so.

So how can you, as part of your leadership journey, improve how you deal with opinions and perspectives that are different from yours? How can you deal positively with conflict – still speaking out, but not destroying others in the process? Well, we don’t have all the answers but the article this month looks at different ways of disagreeing, gives hints and tips on improving your listening skills and also has suggestions for taking action before things get to boiling point and start bubbling over.

Go straight to the article Agreeing to disagree

Rita Marcalo

Rita Marcalo is an artist doing what artists are supposed to do: creating work that is surprising, challenging, transgressive and exciting. The point she is making, and her manner of making it, is unfamiliar; she is breaking all the rules. (Allan Sutherland, Guardian online (

A photo of the bare back of dancer Rita Marcalo, who is wearing a red bustle skirt

Our case study this month is Rita Marcalo, who recently gained international exposure.with her 24 hour dance piece ‘Involuntary Dances’ where she attempted to allow others to witness her own epileptic seizure. Rita attracted a huge degree of attention for her work, which is the first in a series of three pieces arising from her research into the conceptual and physical interfaces between medical research, epilepsy, movement and dance.

Linked to our article on how we disagree, Rita bore the brunt of some very direct and personal criticism for her work, and also drew some high profile public praise. Our video interview asks her if she expected such a forceful response – both positive and negative.

Before making the decision to create this piece, Rita didn’t see herself as a disabled person, feeling that her experience of epilepsy didn’t ‘fit’ the label. Her journey has now led her to confidently describe herself in that way, and she likens it to ‘coming out’:

Do you know what is the strangest thing? I feel a little bit like I felt when I came out as a lesbian: that there was this community out there that I belonged to but never knew I did because I wasn’t out to myself... This in a way has been a process of ‘coming out’ as an epileptic, and I am finding a whole arts community that I never knew I belonged to…

Whatever your opinion of Rita’s work, her journey is fascinating. You can see two short video pieces on the Sync site where Rita talks about her work, the strong public responses she gains and the ways in which she leads. There is also a written transcript of the videos on the site, which you can read alongside.

Go straight to the interview with Rita

What? So what? Now what?

Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it. (Jack Canfield)

a piece of paper being held up; it says 'So What?'

So, lots there to think about.

I was on a leadership day the other week, and at the end we were encouraged to reflect using these five words.

What? – what was covered, what did you learn, be reminded of, find out about?

So what? – what does it actually mean for you? What is there for you to work on? What’s relevant and timely for you right here, right now?

Now what? - and what are you going to do about it?

So I’m pushing that challenge out to you. Here is that ‘what’… now which of these can you use to push yourself forward? Quite simply, what are you going to do now?

  • Do you want to take up any of the opportunities currently on offer and stretch yourself? A placement, the Bristol event, or the intensives programme?

  • How do you tend to disagree? How do you deal with those who think differently to you? Is this something that you think you can work on? You can always read the full article to get yourself thinking more…

  • What can you learn from Rita Marcalo? Do you want to watch the video and find out more?

Next month we will have a focus on leading as an artist, and hopefully information on who will be taking up the placement places and who is on the Intensives programme.

Until then, have fun and keep warm – ideally at the same time!

Jo Verrent

Sync Project Manager

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