It’s a sign of the times when you apply to be part of a national programme and when you actually get to start it five weeks later so many things have changed. At the point of applying to be a part of Culture Reset I had spent several months on furlough watching the events of the world unfold before me through a myriad of digital channels. I had grappled with my own priviledge in a world craving social justice after the Death of George Floyd, reading ‘Im no longer talking to white people about race’ to try and make sense of it all. Reading Arundati Roy’s open letter to The Financial Times on 3rd April ‘The Pandemic as a Portal – what India and the world needs to do next – jolted me into seeing that this pandemic had firmly hit those of greatest need in our world; and then there was the feeling of helplessness on a local level as I cancelled all our project activity until further notice.
It was in this context that I began to search for ways to do my own culture reset. I found the Creative Mornings community and began to look forward to the monthly meetings of the Derby Chapter which covered a range of topics from Nature to The Underdog. And then came along the Culture Reset Programme which immediately spoke to me as something that would help translate my passion for the transformational power of the arts to action in a post-Covid, more socially and environmentally aware world.
Also during this time I had had regular conversations with Steve Slater, Déda’s incoming Director who stimulated my thoughts around equity and inclusion further and who supported me during the Culture Reset application process.
My application listed a range of themes and approaches that I wanted to explore over the four-week intensive and touched upon my own lived experience as a woman, worker, wife and mother and cultural leader. It also framed how I wanted to look at the processes of cultural production in my work through using the principles of cultural democracy.
On 20th July I nervously pulled up to my PC to attend the First Assembly of Culture Reset, having found out that I had been accepted on to the programme a week earlier. It was amazing to be part of a meeting of so many incredible people, all with their own professional purpose to bring to the programme. The three keynote speakers that had been lined up by the CR Team at People Make it Work were amazingly inspiring, each with a unique perspective of the reasons why a Culture Reset at this moment in time is critical. The speaker that I was most inspired by was Marcus Faustini, whose ground-breaking work with young people in the most disadvantaged parts of Rio De Janerio has become a blue print for empowerment.
I am now half-way through the programme, which is a four-week intensive for any Culture sector profession who is involved in cultural production. There are 192 of us in total in two cohorts (I am in cohort two). I have spent two weeks having brilliant conversations with people in a vast range of positions and places from the culture sector. Culture Reset has developed many resources that talk about how we can use the pause button brought by Covid 19 to actually re-examine how we make culture and re-align our values to those which work towards a more equitable world.
I am in the process of finding my question, which will form the basis on my action plan coming out of the programme. I am looking at how I can create a values-based framework for cultural production in my professional and voluntary roles at Déda and Hubbub Theatre Company. The values that seem to be speaking to me to be at me to be at the top of my list are equity and inclusion. I am benefitting enormously from the perspectives of the 9 other people in my group and through the skilful facilitation of Raidene Carter.
If you are involved in cultural production in any context, I would strongly recommend that you visit the Culture Reset website www.culturereset.org and check out the brilliant resources on it. Here is a list of my top picks to date:
Keynote speech by Marcus Faustini
Post Cards from the Edge Podcasts: Claire Doherty interviews Nina Simon – Unmaking and Unlearning
Five Steps to Reimagine your organisation (OF/BY/FOR ALL)
I am looking forward to creating my action plan over the next two weeks and shall post an update of my Culture Reset journey in part 2 of this blog.
Watch this space…