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Sync 100: e-bulletin Sept 09


Autumn gold rush

Does the experience of impairment mean that one becomes a different sort of leader? ( a question asked at the Leadership Lounge)

The podium at Leadership Lounge, Kathryn Duncan, Christine Bruno

It's been a September of opportunities - with leadership events kicking off left, right and centre. And disabled people have been at the centre of many of them - fantastic!

The decibel Performing Arts Showcase 2009, staged by Arts Council England presented the best work from artists with diverse practice, including those who may have limited opportunities to participate in the arts and this time, included work by some of England's leading disabled practitioners.

The Leadership Lounge event, chaired by David Bryan involved - two disabled women engaged in the cultural sector - from Australia, Kathryn Duncan and from America, Christine Bruno.

Both these strong dynamic role models also participated in the Lead On open space conference on leadership and disability, which was held last week in Cheltenham. It's been described on Facebook as 'ripper day' with Arcadea Cultural Equlity's status saying: it was so great to be in touch with so many disabled arts professionals, and come away with lots to think about. Hope we all keep networking!'

And a number of disabled people have gained places onLeadership Unleashed, a follow up to the Leadership Development Day and Leadership Development Day Plus organised by People Create. So watch this space and we'll try and get you feedback from all these events so if you weren't able to get to them, you can at least get a sense of what went on and get access to any leadership thinking that resulted.

To go to a review of the Leadership Lounge on Disability Arts Online


'...her openness only goes so far; like most disabled people, she sometimes disguises the true extent of her disability...' (In the Guardian newspaper talking about Lady Jane Campbell)

a photo of Jane Campbell

We've changed the Sync website over the summer and are changing the way we 'do' bulletins. Basically, the bulletins will be shorter, snappier and more focused and lead you to more detailed info which is held on the website for you to look at when you want.

Like our new article, reveal-ations. What do you choose to reveal and when? For disabled leaders this question is particularly resonant, especially when such 'out and proud' leaders such as Lady Jane Campbell (interviewed in the Guardian) even hide certain aspects of their impairments for fear of being seen in a particular way:

'I want to be open with the world that next year, or the year after, I'll probably be on a ventilator full-time. That I won't be able to swallow.'

But her openness only goes so far; like most disabled people, she sometimes disguises the true extent of her disability. In the Lords debate she began by informing the house that "the usual channels" might have to be invoked, and another member finished the speech for her.

'Such channels have never been allowed before. If i'd made that demand before entry, they might have thought, it's just not worth it.'

Robert Softley Gale

I asked Robert what happened when he ‘switched off’ the Robert persona, when he just was at home, relaxing and out of the spotlight. “Nothing”, he replied, “it doesn’t get switched off..." (from Robert's case study)

Robert in full drag

Many of you may know Robert Softley Gale and if not, our case study on him gives you a chance to make his acquaintance. He's the Equalities Officer for Disability at Scottish Arts Council and has spent the last 18 months making his mark on the Scottish arts scene, creating the Disability Arts Fund and enabling the development of many projects and programmes such as Caroline Bowditch's Dance Agent for Change post at Scottish Dance Theatre.

Robert is often described as 'larger than life' and choose to live life very much in the public domain - not many people have a website dedicated to their wedding. I asked Robert what happened when he 'switched off' the Robert persona, when he just was at home, relaxing and out of the spotlight. ''Nothing'', he replied, "it doesn't get switched off, it really is how I am, all of the time." Exhausting as it appears, Robert is genuinely that upbeat all of the time. Even when he is angry or frustrated, he experiences these with an energy that looks for solutions, for options, for the way through rather than one that gives in to the lethargy that most of us would succumb to.

If you want to find out more about Robert and what he thinks about leading , check out the case study on the website and again, do feel free to add your comments there.

To find out more about Robert...

What next?

We want to meet you!

a sync networking meeting

We are going to have a session at DADA Fest in Liverpool this Autumn so we can meet people interested in Sync and find out more about you and your interest in leadership. These will be open to old and new members and anyone who is interested but has not yet taken the plunge. It will give us a chance to check in with people and get different perspectives - what exactly do we mean by disability and leadership? Where are the differences for us?

There is still a chance to get us to come to you if you want - we want to run two more introduction sessions in the Autumn/Spring - let us know if you are interested.

And next month we want to bring you news of a brand development for Sync - Sync placement/s.

This will be a practical opportunity to put into practice aspirant leadership skills whilst based within a major arts organisation within London. Watch this space!

Jo Verrent and the rest of the Sync team

Want to go to the Sync Leadership site?

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