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Sync: e-bulletin June 2010


Hard times

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. (Chinese proverb)

A photo of some half polished precious stones

Last week, arts organisations found out that the cuts pushed out by ACE in this year were going to be small – with most organisations having to accept reductions of £1,000 - £2,000 overall. As the budget sinks in, we can sense that this may be the tip of the iceberg with more cuts hitting hard for the next four or five years. Hard times indeed.

The protection of artists and front line work comes at a cost. Both Arts & Business and Creativity, Culture and Education (delivering arts and education work) were hit 8 times as hard.

As the proverb above illustrates – hard though they may be, we can face hard times positively, and learn from them. One thing that helps leaders navigate though the narrowing streets of funding and capacity is knowledge – you need to know what’s happening, where and when and for whom.

Knowledge is power so they say, so here are some leads to follow to keep yourself in the know:

Arts Professional This is a link to their key reporting of the cuts so far:

And if you want to register for a free trial:

The Guardian There is a specific section dedicated to the news on arts funding:

Arts Council England It is always worth checking ACE’s news section too:

Sync Intensive profile: Robin Meader

I think everyone in the world has a need to have a story or we would be under a dark cloud. Sometimes people had a good story and something got in their way like bullying, politics, anti social behaviour or unhappy relationships. We sort out problems in stories and this can help us…(Robin Meader)

a silloette of a storyteller with images coming out of their mouth

Another way to keep focused when times get dark is to find inspiration in others. This month, we are uploading a case study of Robin Meader, who is on the Sync Intensives programme.

Robin works two days a week as Artistic Director of Open Storytellers, the only learning disabled storytelling company on the planet! He is passionate about storytelling. When he's not weaving and working tales with his company, he's listening to other people's stories. Not all our stories are easy to tell. Robin also works at Somerset Self Advocacy supporting other learning disabled people to speak out and be heard.

Robin is inspiring – even today, so few learning disabled people get to genuinely inhabit positions of real power and control. Do read his case study and find out more.

Read the case study on Robin Meader

Rank and circumstance

One of Bobby Baker's images, showing a skull inside her head.

Our article this month is produced in partnership with Bobby Baker.

Bobby is an extraordinary artist and this month's article Rank and Circumstance is a result of conversations with Bobby over the last few years exploring how we create rank (and pull rank) within the disability community and within leadership circles and how we shift and change ourselves in different circumstances within our organisations and projects.

In the disability field, the learning disabled community are often assumed to be at the bottom of the pecking order – as Robin Meader (above) knows well.

Within leadership too, there is a real sense of hierarchy and this article encourages us to reflect and debate our positions, to ask questions around authority and the pace of our lives. Why do we assume fast is better than slow, for example, when we have the wonderful parable of the tortoise and the hare to draw upon?

This year has been a rich one for Bobby, seeing her publish her Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me alongside her clinical psychologist daughter, Dora Whittuck.

You can enjoy the full article here:

Further inspiration

a crackle of lightening and smoke to represent inspiration.

So where else can we find inspiration?

Some find it in books or through researching on the internet, some find it through networking and meeting new people, some find it through events and activities.

On sync, in our case studies section, you'll find a wide range of people talking about their particular takes on leadership (just go to the sync site, look in sync stuff and checkout the case studies -

Or if you are in need of face to face refreshment and inspiration, it's not too late to book yourself onto some of the free or low cost sessions taking place as part of CLP’s Re:freshers event that we mentioned last month. Some have now reached their capacity, but others have a few spaces left.

Sarah Pickthall will be blogging about the Re:feshers event in the next few weeks leading up to it - and indeed right through the event itself and for a week or so after - so even if you can't make it to London for any of the sessions, you might be able to get a taste of the inspiration from your computer screen.

Sarah's blog can be accessed through the CLP site, linking through to Refreshers.

Follow this link to go straight to the blog page

Final thought – what’s really important?

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. (Albert Einstein)

Photo of Chip Conley

So times may be hard, but there is inspiration out there to keep us thinking, developing and moving forwards.

I recently watched a short video on TED that really inspired me. Have you really thought about what makes your life worthwhile, and how you can bring that into the way in which you work?

It’s by a guy called Chip Conley, who owns a number of hotels in America. In it he focuses on how we can measure what makes life worthwhile, rather than just measuring financial impact of what we do.

One of the questions he poses within his talk is this:

  • How do you feel about how you spent your time today?

This really stopped me in my tracks.

I thought about yesterday. A sunny and beautiful day. I was at home, working in the front room and my eyes kept being drawn to the window. I kept promising myself that I’d take 10 minutes and go and enjoy the day - anyone else do this? But there was always one more email, one more text that needed answering.

How do I feel about how I spent my time yesterday? I feel I squandered it. I gave no time to me or to the simple wonder of the day.

Chip speaks about leadership in 21st Century. He talks about how leaders need to develop organisations and working cultures that create the environment in which others can be happy. He then goes on to discuss how organisations need to survive, to succeed and transform the lives of those they come in contact with.

I really enjoyed his simple emotional equation:

Happiness = wanting what you have over having what you want

But how do we bring this into our leadership? How can we ensure our work recognises that it's not just the financial bottom line, or the number of people signed up to a particular project that matters? Chip says it's all about what you count. He describes this brilliantly when he says:

If your only tool is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

If we just count numbers, be that pound signs or people, then that is all that will matter. We need to find other ways to count the less tangible things we value.

So today? It's another sunny and beautiful day and I made sure I enjoyed some of it.

To watch the TED talk:

That's it for this month, and if you are like me, enjoy the sunshine!

Jo Verrent

Sync Project Manager

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