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Sync: e-bulletin May 2011



plant growing at the edge of a pavement

It's May - right in the middle of Spring with summer around the corner. However tough the winter, by May the trees are always back in bloom, the plants are pushing through the soil, and the sun finds a way through the clouds on occasion to warm our skin and make us smile.

I love this photograph - it's a pansy that has managed to seed itself in a dull, grey pavement, pushing up in the most unlikely and inhospitable of places. Nature will out!

I've more reasons to smile than most at the moment and marvel at the miracles of nature because I've just become a grandmother for the first time - I promise I'll really try to only mention it once!

Given that it is spring, we are all surrounded by new life at the moment; and this signals new opportunities, new perspectives, new takes, new ways of doing, seeing, living, being...

But all this freshness can only influence us if we open ourselves up to it, if we open the window and breath it in; open the door and get outside...

It's not always easy to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves to be open to newness, but - oh boy - do we benefit if we do. All our leadership strategies, behaviours and beliefs could benefit from a quick shake out in the spring air - a chance to blow off the cobwebs and work out what is still serving us well, and what elements we might want to look at again in the coming months to see if they still fit....

We have some new perspectives to kick-start you into action - we have just uploaded 4 videos from the Sync Thinking day in March - lots of food for thought here.

Learning disabled leaders

We need to show what we can do (Mark Barber)

Mark Barber

Learning disabled leaders often don't get the profile they deserve, but they have always been an important part of Sync.

Since we began we have worked with Jez Colborne, Sarah Gordy, Andy Kee, Charlotte Stephens, Jamie Stewart and many others - learning from them and fully integrating them into all aspects of the programme.

At Sync Thinking it was the turn of Mark Barber to take centre stage and we have a short video of Mark, talking with Nicole Thomson of Anjali and our own Sarah Pickthall.

Mark speaks of his own leadership journey and what's important to him - having the chance to learn and lead, and the opportunity to inspire others. For Mark it is really important to be able to lead through what he does best, dancing, as well as to engage in the educational projects that he leads. Through his own dance, he can inspire others in a direct way - showing people what is possible, what they can achieve.

To watch the video of Mark and Nicole...

Reaching for the prize

I was ready to hear a 'no'... (Caroline Cardus)

Caroline cardus at the Impact day

Another of our video interviews edited for you is of a fascinating conversation between Caroline Cardus and Tony Heaton, Shape talking about ambition and daring to dream big.

Caroline is currently artist in residence at BALTIC, as part of being awarded the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary by Shape, deepening her practice which explores the themes of language and identity, and the juxtaposition of popular culture and sub-cultures.

Caroline spoke about applying for the bursary, about stretching her confidence and ambition and the processes that led to the decision to apply.

She speaks about the application she wanted to put in - not the one she felt would most impress the selection panel, but the one that truly reflected what she wanted to deliver. That clarity of direction and purpose obviously shone through, as she was successful in an extremely strong shortlist, but that wasn't the only benefit.

Caroline says that she was 'ready to hear a 'no'. She had reached that enviable state where actually it had become more important to her that the work was what she wanted to deliver rather than whether she got it or not.

See Caroline Cardus and Tony Heaton's video here...

Growing our leaders

So when Deepa applied to work with us again this time .... we jumped at the chance to employ her again - right person, right time ... (Tabitha Allum, StageText)

a photo of Deepa Shastri

The third of our videos features Deepa Shastri and Tabitha Allum. Deepa is well known for both her work at StageText and at Shape / London 2012 working on the Unlimited Commissions programme. What is less well known is that the latter opportunity was a Cultural Leadership Programme placement designed to stretch Deepa's leadership learning and behaviours.

Tabitha Allum, who heads up StageText, was Deepa's boss before the placement opportunity came up, and now, coincidently, is her boss again so was perfectly placed to take us through the growth of Deepa in leadership terms.

The two of them formed a highly amusing double act and, if you watch the video, you'll also find out the Tabitha has also choosen NOT to employ Deepa at various points in her career too - despite her very many skills and talents...

You'll have to watch the video yourself to find out why!

To watch Deepa Shastri and Tabitha Allum

Stretching beyond your comfort zone

a photo of Rachel Gadsden at Sync Thinking

Our final video is a conversation between Rachel Gadsden and Nikki Tomlinson of Arts Admin. Nikki has been working with Rachel on developing her successful bid for an Unlimited Commission from London 2012.

Rachel speaks about having a hidden impairment and of the additional pressure she has felt, because of this, to speak up and be counted as a disabled person. She talks in particular, about the support that the Sync 'family' has provided to make that comfortable, and indeed, beneficial. Rachel's work is politically motivated, and is designed to appeal to all, not just to disabled audiences.

To watch Rachel Gadsden and Nikki Tomlinson,,,

Pitch up!

Sync South East presents Pitch! Wednesday 15th June 2011, 10.30am – 5.00pm, The Stables in Milton Keynes

The Stables at Milton Keynes

Before we go, I just wanted to draw your attention to our sister project Sync South East, and let you know that there is a fantastic day programme of activity happening on the 15th June that might interest you.

Sync South East is a leadership development programme for disabled artist and arts workers in the south east of England. It’s part of Accentuate, which is looking to create a cultural shift around disability in the way we all include, involve and inspire.

Pitch! is a great opportunity to meet everyone involved in the programme and there will be pitches, provocations and persuasion from 30 disabled artists and arts workers and 10 disability-specific organisations and projects all in one place – far too good an opportunity to miss! There will be performances, displays, discussions and debates – and plenty of time for introductions and networking.

For example, want to see Being me Being (a project involving hidden disability, visual art and yoga led by Sarah Scott), or a live capture artwork (being created by Rachel Gadsden, or watch dance by Mark Barber - both mentioned above? You can find out more from our Facebook site (search for Pitch!).

The event is free to attend but due to limited spaces, please let us know if you can make it by emailing

See you again in June - hopefully at the Stables!

All the best

Jo Verrent

Sync Project Manager

To go to Sync South East's own site

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