I couldn’t believe it was ending. I and 192 Culture Resetters were on a Zoom Call at the end of the Final Assembly for Culture Reset. No one wanted to leave the call. We all looked wistfully at each other in our respective boxes, each of us contemplating the long journey ahead full of action and possible agitation.
On Friday 11th September I shared an hour and a half of brilliance. By this I mean listening to inspiring presentations from fellow Culture Resetters whom were brave enough to share their journey towards a new direction in cultural production as well as reflections from key note listeners whose apposite words gave us all the courage to step forth into the ‘new normal’ and make the processes of cultural production better than before. We were encouraged to find new models of leadership which are distributed, and to leave the ‘Hero Leadership’ model behind. We were urged to insist upon things as insistence is an essential act for change. We were reminded that we advance when we all advance.
Claire Doherty, Programme Director for Culture Reset, spoke of how those who are responsible for Cultural Production are ‘Boundary Riders’ and this really resonated with me as this is how I see my role Déda and how I see others who are making culture in similar roles as mine. A role which entails deftly ‘riding’ the boundaries between artist, community and organisation in order to enable each of these parties to co-create with each other equally in the process.
During the four-week intensive, I developed my question, did extensive field work, jumped into several zoom meet-ups with other people on the programme and, with other producers, artists and directors, imagined the future. I listened to and read provocations on the Culture Reset website and delved further into the podcast series ‘Postcards from the Edge’. One of the podcasts deeply moved me. It was with Tania El Khoury, a Live Artist from Beiruit who is interviewed by David Micklem (from 64 Million Artists and Programme Director for Culture Reset) about the aftermath of the enormous explosion in the Port of Beirut which happened on 4th August and how she as an artist has responded to the injustices which surrounded this event.
Most of all I listened to those in my group and their words of advice and guidance (sometimes over a glass of wine after the kids had gone to bed!). It was this process that I began to realise that I had become part of an amazing community of like-minded people who were courageous enough to give themselves over to the Culture Reset process.
I then created a Street Dressing for Déda’s Derby Well initiative. This was called ‘Locked-down drawers’ and in essence it captured a moment in time which reflected back on my time in lockdown and forward to the discoveries I had made through Culture Reset. In the drawers were objects such as seeds and gardening tools as well books that have influenced me such as The Art of Relevance by Nina Simon. Through the process of making it, I began to feel reconnected with my purpose in life, after several months of being on Furlough.
The layers of learning in Culture Reset were complex and multi-dimensional reflecting the 192 people on the programme and the 20+ open discussions on the CR Slack workspace. I took part in zooms about such topics as Artist Advisory Groups and Artists, Organisations and Communities.
One exercise we did was to envisioning the future and we decided between us that the future was a place where the arts on prescription was commonplace, where young people are at the heart of what we do and where arts and cultural buildings were less like palaces of grandeur and more like social spaces for discussion and debate. We decided that we hoped that the future held the promise that participating in the arts would be perceived as good for you.
Whilst taking part in Culture Reset, I also contributed to putting together Déda’s Culture Recovery Fund bid as well as Hubbub Theatre Company’s bid to the same fund. During my times working on these bids I held the values of Culture Reset close to me and tried to channel my learning into the bid writing process. The challenge now is learning how to navigate change in an ever-changing world, and for this we need to become Boundary Riders. www.culturereset.org