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Sync: e-bulletin March 2010


The Synergy of Geese

Synergy comes from the Greek word synergia, meaning joint work and co-operative action (

Geese flying in a V formation

Whilst we wait for the chicks to hatch and Spring to properly arrive, we've been spending the last month contemplating the wonder of geese in relation to leadership.

Now before you think we've lost our way in this long drawn out winter, bear with us.

Canada geese fly in a V formation for good reason, being able to move faster and maintain flight longer than any one bird flying solo.

Synergy is best explained by many a dictionary as 'the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual' and we wholeheartedly agree with this idea.

It was Tony Heaton, Director of Shape who first told us about the wonder of Geese and we looked at it again at our recent Sync Networking Meeting at the Arnolfini in Bristol in late February and there's just so much in it to inspire us.

Our March article touches deeply into this natural phenomenon, finding parallels for our leadership journey and how we might benefit from flying together as artists and creatives.

Go straight to the Synergy of Geese

Tanya Raabe

I'm having the the time of my life (Artist, Tanya Raabe).

Tanya Raabe painting at the Tate

In our case study this month we throw the spotlight on Tanya Raabe as she weaves some of her magic at Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool.

Our conversations with Tanya touch on the power of the artist collective and what this has meant to her through the highs and lows of her career to date.

She talks lucidly about the different ways she forges relationships with people: with the subjects who sit for her, the public who hover around in the gallery spaces, and the social networks she employs, and how she's bringing more and more people into her audience mix.

We consider her natural coaching style as she brings all her experience, skill, talent and infectious humour into line and delivers her most exciting year to date.

Go straight to Tanya Raabe's Case Study

Leading as an Artist

For our future to remain bright, we need artists to be leaders to help envision the positive future that can be, by helping point out the present that shouldn’t be. (Dr Robert Cutietta)

an artist darns leading as artist into material

Last month we promised you a focus on leading as an artist, honouring many of our members who are artists across all disciplines .

We all know that artists allow us to see the world differently but for many artists, the idea of leading and leadership brings up an uncomfortable set of feelings around power.

For many artists the right to 'just do' without a leadership role is favourable.

A recent discussion with Aaron Williamson, currently Artist in Residence at Spike Island on an Adam Reynolds' Bursary, was an example of this, where Aaron clearly does not feel at one with the idea of 'leader'.

However, we are still very much drawn to artists who push the boundaries of excellence, wonder and intrigue. Whether they sit in the disability movement, the mainstream, or both, we can't help but follow them.

For others, artistic expression is all about community and connection and is awash with leadership qualities and inflections, and many artists, like Tanya, do see themselves as leaders.

We are keen to explore whether our Sync membership feel differently now about their relationship with leadership than when they first signed up. Do tell us if your feelings about leading have changed, and if they have, how and in what way.

Sync - Intensives and Placements

I can't wait to start engaging in the Sync process, working with a coach and meeting the other people who will be accompanying me on this journey. (Sync Intensive Member, Susan Austin)

a photo of Sync Intensive participant Susan Austin

We are delighted to have secured our Sync Intensive cohort and in the same breath feel disappointed that we were unable to run a programme for 20 this time around as there was so much interest in the opportunity.

We are delighted that Theresa Kiyota Rahman de Swiet will start her Sync Leadership Placement at the Whitechapel Gallery and Deepa Shastri will be starting her time at London 2010. They join the Sync Intensive Programme as part of this.

What's different this time round is that many of those on Sync Intensives will be writing their own case studies and articles for future monthly bulletins.

We have always wanted Sync to be about more than the individuals who conceived the notion that we could be stronger as a community in exploring the interface between disability and leadership, despite our different starting points, personalities, and now we're putting this into action.

Next month, Sync Intensive member Rachel Bagshaw will be taking up the pen! Rachel is currently working as Training and Learning Projects Manager at Graeae Theatre Company. Watch this space.

You can find out more about the people on Sync Intensives by going straight to the Sync Blog.

See you again in April hopefully with lighter days and Spring fully underway. It's been a long wait for us all.

Sarah Pickthall

Sync Coaching

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