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THIS IS MY LAST WEEK - feels bizarre writing that down. I blinked, and two months has flown by! It feels exciting and sad at the same time, but most importantly it feels like the right time, the right decision and in the right context.

Those who know me, know I natter on constantly about change, being aware of when you are taking up space, understanding your position and the need to move on. I see change, moving on and acknowledge these things as positives, for both myself and the artists/organisation/communities I work with. I embark on creative journeys to achieve ambitions and when they are whole, it’s time to make change and challenge yourself. I reached this point recently at Déda and decided that the best change after 6 wonderful years was to move on, create space for new a voice, for someone to start a new chapter at the organisation and to allow Déda to continue to grow in new ways.

My goal when I took on the creative producer post was to not become a gatekeeper (sorry if that happened!), but a facilitator. To place artists and communities at the core of the work, driving forward their needs and ambitions, using my position to facilitate that. I have had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented artists, producers, marketeers, learning specialists, production teams, audiences, communities and students who helped to achieve that goal. I feel proud of the position that Déda is in artistically and I am proud of the achievement’s we made over the last 6-years. I have made mistakes, learnt some valuable lessons and had the space to develop as a cultural practitioner, which is all invaluable experience.

Somethings I want to note about Déda. Firstly, this organisation's outputs given the size of the team and resources, is astounding. The team work tirelessly to raise funds so that we could deliver exciting programmes in communities, support local, regional and national talent and bring exceptional international artists to the City.

Secondly, the staff team are a delight to work with and Déda has some exceptionally talented staff members who shine a bright light for the organisation. It has been a pleasure to work with such a range of talented people, so I would like to thank them for making the roller-coaster journey, worth the ride.

Thirdly, I would like to thank Stephen Munn, who lead the organisation during the majority of my time at Déda. He taught me a significant amount about leadership, created the space for me grow and supported me whilst navigating my personal & professional pathways. I can’t thank him enough for his leadership and trust!

Derby’s cultural sector is live and kick in’ (loved that TV show!). It has some passionate and hardworking cultural leaders, pioneering new models of working and pushing innovation across a range of art forms, communities and audiences – keep your eyes on Derby that’s for sure.

Some of my work highlights over the last 6-years include:

OffSite, Déda’s regional artist development programme supporting the artists, producers and festivals working in or developing outdoor experiences. The programme has had significant regional support and I would like to thank the festivals and partners for that: Appetite, Birmingham Hippodrome, DanceXchange, Lakeside Arts Centre, SO Festival and Wild Rumpus. It has opened up new opportunities for artists, festivals and producers and has shone a light on the amazing outdoor arts sector that exists in the Midlands!

Déda’s Artist Support programmes which changed significantly over the years. Although I do think this area needs to continue to grow and change, I am delighted with the way Déda now supports artists. Nikki and JD, Humanhood, Vidya Patel, Joss Arnott Dance, Tom Dale Company, MSDC Dance and many more artists have received bespoke support from Déda’s programme providing a nurturing environment that has elevated their practice and work. That has been incredible to be part of and experience.

Our relationship with our audiences and communities is stronger and we have started to confidently place our communities' needs and voices into the design and make up of our artistic programmes. Again, this is an area of continued development and I am leaving Déda with some exciting plans and funding in place to change the ownership of our programmes, spaces and building in years to come.

These are just a few highlights and aspects of my role I have really enjoyed getting my teeth into and I hope that the organisation continues to position artists and communities at its core.

I think that’s enough of me wittering on about my boring career – this blog will only be read a handful of times and I have re-written it about 20,000 so best call it quits! Thank you to everyone who has made my time and experience at Déda a pleasure and I can’t wait to take on the next challenge.

See you all in a new working life.

Phil Hargreaves,
Creative Producer

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