Diary of a Creative Producer

16. 04. 2019

Face-to-face with the Squad

Recently the nine participants of Art Squad gathered for four days of face-to-face time in Adelaide. Although the squad have been together as a cohort since October last year, their regular group interaction is via weekly video-link (we use Zoom) and digital collaboration hub Slack. Our time together in Adelaide was the first time most of the squad had met in person!

Ashton was one of the first to arrive. Pictured here in one of the Buxton Manor apartments which were our home for the face-to-face.

The purpose of the face-to-face time from a program perspective was:

  • Build connections and bond as a cohort;
  • Reflect and plan for the year ahead as an individual & as a group;
  • Practice leadership and group facilitation skills in a supported environment;
  • Have the opportunity to meet (some) key figures and peers in the South Australian arts sector, including representatives of Carclew and Country Arts SA;
  • Experience Adelaide during festival season, including attending selected performances & exhibitions to inspire, inform and learn;
  • Make, take and find time to be creative and to think critically about your/their own creative practice & aspirations.

In developing the final schedule I thought a lot about timing, environment, learning styles and I drew a lot of inspiration from my own experiences as a participant in many programs/events. There needed to be a balance between things I’d curated to provide access to new ideas, new people and new opportunities and between Art Squad self directing and exploring their shared and individual interests. You can see the working schedule here to get an idea of what our time together looked like. Minor adjustments were made before and during but this is a pretty accurate reflection.

I asked all of the squad to identify what they most hoped to gain from the face-to-face time and the biggest shared response was about their access to each other (that first dot point) so it seemed especially important that our location and accommodation provide plenty of space and opportunity to connect and bond. After looking at various options (and a few falling through because of timing) we ended up staying at Buxton Manor in North Adelaide. This gave us very convenient access to Carclew and the CBD where our formal activities were based and the accommodation itself provided us with privacy and shared spaces for ‘just us’. We didn’t want to be in a hotel or caravan park situation where we would be sharing common spaces with external individuals and groups – it was about having space dedicated to Art Squad community.

I think it’s okay to note that the ‘vibe’ of Buxton Manor – for us – was a bit strange in the sense that it’s very old-school and furnished in a very particular style. This wasn’t a bad thing and created lots of discussion about history, power and privilege during our stay.

A sketch by Belili of the fireplace in our ‘common room’ – a dining and lounge area in one of the five apartments that makes up Buxton Manor.

I’ve adopted the idea of ‘day leaders’ from my experience as a participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and this structure for our Art Squad face-to-face gave four of the squad the opportunity to practice their leadership and management of group dynamics. The day leaders role (in our Art Squad context) was to guide the group through that day’s schedule, including:

  • Ensuring everyone was where they needed to be, when they needed to be;
  • Greeting and thanking any facilitators/hosts/guests;
  • Providing opportunities for debriefs/questions as part of individual sessions;
  • Managing logistics (with support from me);
  • Managing any changes to the schedule to maximise impact and reflect learning.

On the first morning I promised the group that if they asked me any questions about the schedule (ie. what are we doing next), my response would be “Have you read the schedule? Have you spoken to your day leader?” I kept this promise. My role was to provide the schedule and framework and be there to provide back-up but the four days were about Art Squad navigating and learning together as a cohort.

Lyall snapping the rest of the squad during their grocery shopping expedition on the first morning.
Lyall and Ashton pictured exploring some techniques for phone photography in our social media sess led by Simone Di Sisto, Carclew Coordinator, Marketing & Development.
We didn’t get to see as many exhibitions as we’d hoped, but Zawa pictured here exploring ‘And the Earth Sighed’ an Adelaide Festival exhibition at the SA Museum.
Matilda was also putting the final touches to her first ever grant application during the first days of our face-to-face. This is Matilda pressing ‘submit’ just before the grant deadline. *fingers crossed* She’ll know the outcome in late June and we’ll keep you posted!
During the scheduled ‘down-time’ squad also made the most of their location. Pictured here L:R Nathan, Matilda and Eliza exploring Adelaide Fringe one evening.
During our visit and tour of The Mill, Belili loved this print so much that she purchased her own copy. Pictured here putting on the ‘sold’ sticker.
Poor Ashleigh ended up going home early as she was quite unwell, but she zoomed in Saturday morning to be part of personal presentations. Each squad member had 15minutes to make a personal presentation about them, their creative practice, their challenges and their aspirations.
Some final purchases after personal presentations. Belili and Matilda pictured with bags hand-made by Eliza (look for her Etsy Store String Potter to nab your own).

We took over the Country Arts SA Instagram account for the entire time we were together, so jump over there to see some of the other highlights. We also had Leighton Bond – a young Adelaide-based videographer – with us documenting some of the face-to-face so I’ll share a little video snapshot when it’s ready too.

Let me know in the comments if there’s anything from the face-to-face you want to know more about, either what we did, why we did it or what impact it had, or anything else you are curious about. We are very happy to share and that’s what this blog is all about!

Alysha Herrmann


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When

Beginning with consultation and building connections in 2017 - 2018, and then developing & delivering a creative program of projects, events, activites, initatives and mentoring 2018-2020

Type

Creative outcomes by and with young people (aged 12-26)

Presenter/Partners

Carclew & Country Arts SA with an invitation to other stakeholders and partners to come and play

Location

Regional, rural & remote South Australia

The Creative Producer, Youth (Regional) is a statewide role co-funded and managed by Carclew and Country Arts SA. The role of Creative Producer, Youth is to nurture and support young people (aged 12-26) living in regional South Australia to explore and express their creative aspirations. Young people themselves know what they want to do and how they want to do it. The Creative Producer’s role is to be a listener, cheer squad, connector, collaborator, facilitator, champion and ally. Alysha Herrmann was appointed to the role of Creative Producer in late 2017, she is based from the Riverland region of South Australia. Alysha is an award winning writer, theatre-maker and community organiser in her own right.

Find out more

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.