Corporate storytelling

The writers groups for young people I’m running this summer are coming together brilliantly. 14 great volunteers, 15 lovely, motivated young writers and a sense that this initiative is wanted, needed and kind of good and beautiful at the same time. As a CLP outcome this one is feeling very right.

However there are so many more nebulous questions and wonderings still opening up. Meeting with the other artist/practitioner people Nina Edge and Helen Carnac was wonderful for this. We’re all based in busy, fast moving cultural organisations, whose busy fast movingness sometimes means that more contemplative, spiralling, slow ways of being get lost.  The very different three of us seemed to gain strength in talking about our experiences of trying to define ourselves in relation to our hosts, and a cultural landscape, and in thinking about formulating a vision together-based in our actual practice.  Making work about leadership together. We reflected on how often arts conferences don’t have many artists at them-and if they do they tend not to be paid. We’re pondering whether artists could be more visible-could we do some speaking?

Watching “Imagine” on BBC1 the other night with a spread of mainly male, posh suited blokes talking about “the arts-they’re always positive!”, I had an even greater sense that there may be some viewpoints that are under represented…

Before this placement though I wouldn’t have thought so much of attempting to be a representative voice.  Now, I’m wondering how. How do people get the ear of DCMS or the Culture Secretary etc? Could they do with hearing from more artists directly?  I’ve been reading about the New Deal of the Mind folk (lobbyists? campaigners?) and they seem to have impressively pulled together a report, got some ears and voices. I wonder what gave them the confidence and motivation? Perhaps that’s one of the CLP questions I could ask.

So much of this leadership stuff (when it’s done in a fluid, flexible, feminine way) seems to be about relationships. So it’s with a bit of sadness and perturbment that I find out a really strong leader of a national literature organisation I’m on the board of is leaving. Can’t imagine who could replace her. In conversation with NWN Claire she was saying there’s a real dearth of leaders in this sector and that’s why organisations have to have a “succession strategy” which sounds like something King Henry 8th would have.  I couldn’t imagine wanting to be an organisation management type leader, but there’s obviously a need for more of them in the arts, as well as the other different types of leader. Not fast and furious in organisations, but influencing through their work, expressing attitudes and ways of being that might sometimes contrast current organisational models of efficiency and “power”.  I’m also sad that Isobel who has overseen and helped broker the relationship between me and NWN is leaving. It feels like she carries some of the narrative of this journey- but i’ll just have to have faith in my, and New Writing North’s abilities to construct and re construct the narratives and find shared ones. Apparently Aviva (formerly Norwich Direct) employ a corporate storyteller, to help employees and the company share their senses of who they are and when they’ve been. It sounds sort of beautiful and sinister at the same time.

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