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Sync: e-bulletin Sept 2011



....take a fresh bite on leadership.....

a  photo of a blackboard and a pile of books with an apple on them - back to school!

September is almost at an end, and for many of us we've been cranking things up after yet another lacklustre sunless summer, until this week that is.

September is traditionally the time to get out your planner out and start doing your prep. It's time to get back to the school of meetings, events and activities. So what's programmed in for this coming Sync ‘term’?

Our new intensives programme kicks into action in the next few weeks. We have two separate development days planned for October and November looking at leadership theory and practice from our unique set of perspectives and experiences. Our cohort will be writing articles and case studies about leadership as part of our monthly bulletins. We can't wait to see what they have to show and say. We’ve an exciting new element of Sync in development too – can’t say much more as it's all under wraps at the moment.

Sync has gravitas – the wealth of your ideas and opinion gathered over the years, which are too good to not seed a wider dialogue, particularly at a time of such cultural shift . We want more people to have the chance to be 'in sync' with us - a move that takes us beyond our boxes, and informs our cultural disposition and future.

It’s all change at Arts Council England too. We're meeting up with the new director of Organisational Leadership and Development Ginny Spittle this week. She is our new lead contact for Sync.

So what else is new?

The knowledge of Marmaduke is so essential. Just one man and the difference he can make (Mohammed Ali - Graffiti artist and producer)

a multi media image of buildings overlaid with sketches of individuals used to promote the arts project Loyal Enemy

There are two of us in the ‘backroom’ of Sync, and we’ve both been exploring our own ‘leadership’ in very different ways.

Sarah Pickthall has been refreshing her own artistic practice over the last few months, working with a collective of artists who are developing a new performance 'installation' piece based on the life of her great great Uncle, Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthall who wrote 'The meaning of the Glorious Qu’ran', a 'translation' still used today in schools and mosques.

The piece is called Loyal Enemy and was pitched at Decibel - the Arts Council's dynamic performing arts showcase in Manchester earlier this month.

It's been interesting to see how Sarah’s commitment to consensual working and community involvement is evident in this very personal impactful piece that sees her shifting position in the same way her blood relation did nearly 100 years ago. You can find out exactly who is involved on the project website

Jo Verrent will also be working in a different way this year. She has gained a Fellowship with the Clore Leadership Programme and will be finding out more about herself, the cultural sector and how she can make a greater impact in the future through the way she works over the next 12 months. You can find out more about the Clore Fellowship - it runs each year - on their website,

New ways of leading

Just because it hasn't been done before, doesn't mean it can't be done, or that its not a better idea than the ones that have been done before...... (David Jubb, David Micklem and Sarah Preece, the team leading Battersea Arts Centre)

A photo of Battersea Arts Centre

Everything seems up for change at the moment – did you catch the news that Australia has changed the way it accounts for gender on its passports? There is now a third choice for those wishing to describe themselves as transgender or of indeterminate gender. It’s a huge leap forward aiming to curb gender based discrimination and it’s being discussed here now too.

So what else is up for change? How about new ways of leading?

For many of us, part time working is essential – our access needs require it. But don’t make the assumption that leading in the cultural sector is out of bounds. More and more organisations are flexing to meet the requirements of staff, forming new models of heading up organisations. Take Battersea Arts Centre, for example – they have two Artistic Directors that work full time and an Executive Director who works three days a week. In this instance, her desire to work part time is not impairment related; she’s an artist too and needs time for her own practice. Remember, how you lead should follow who you are – you don’t have to fit into a box – carve out your own approaches and ways of leading and influencing.

New ways of thinking

metal people in a circle holding hands

Decibel, mentioned earlier, also saw the launch of Arts Council’s Creative Case – its new approach setting out how diversity and equality can enrich the arts for artists, audiences and our wider society.

The underlying principle behind Creative Case is one that we at Sync fully appreciate. It’s not about addressing past imbalances, removing barriers, reducing deficits and following legal procedure in the sector (no-one is saying these things shouldn’t be done too, however).

Instead Creative Case looks at the situation differently. It argues that diversity and equality are crucial to the arts in their own right – precisely because of what they bring, not inspite of it.

As Hassan Mahamdallie, the lead for Creative Case at ACE, says: The creative case is based upon the simple observation that diversity, in the widest sense, is an integral part of the artistic process. It is an important element in the dynamic that drives art forward, that innovates it and brings it closer to a profound dialogue with contemporary society.

We think this is true within leadership too. We know that as disabled people in positions of leading and influencing we can bring new ways of seeing and being to the table. We can show different perspectives, opportunities and options, enhancing and enlightening what others do and the way in which they do it.

Go on, go on, go on, go on….

a photo of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted

So go on, as Mrs Doyle from Father Ted used to repeat.

Our challenge for you this month is to think hard about what you bring that is fresh, invigorating, challenging, provocative, additional or exemplary to leading and influencing – and then to bring that out into the open just a little bit more.

It might be through your own artistic practice, or through the work that you do with an organisation – as employee, employer, governor, trustee, advisor or freelancer. It might be through what you write, what you say or simply how you do things.

So go on, put yourself and your unique way of being out there today. It's not just you who’ll benefit.

More soon, all the best

Jo Verrent and Sarah Pickthall


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