23. 02. 2018
Voices from 2028: A whole of staff conversation
Each year the entire staff cohort of Country Arts SA gathers for two days of workshops, presentations, updates, conversation and connections. These all of staff days are an important way to nurture and maintain a healthy workplace culture (making sure everyone is on the same page and has all the relevant updates about direction, practical stuff and future vision) and also an opportunity to bring new voices into contact with the organisation.
Just over a week ago now, I attended the 2018 whole of staff gathering and I was asked to facilitate an hour session with everyone to share some insight into my role (and approach) and encourage people across the organisation to think about things they could do to create meaningful opportunities for young people to engage with the work of Country Arts SA.
So I decided to invite some inspiring creative people in their late teens and twenties to come and share their perspectives with Country Arts SA staff. We ended up having four guests who could attend – Jesse Budel, Jess Martin, Emma Richardson and Kirsty Williams. I asked each of them to prepare a letter from their future self (in 2028) and read it to the Country Arts SA staff. Each of our fabulous guests then sat in smaller groups and shared some of their experiences of really great youth engagement projects and some examples of less great youth engagement. In four separate blogs here in the Diary of a Creative Producer I’m going to share (with their permission) the letters that our four guests read and a little bio about each of them so you can go and have a look at some of the awesome things these young artists are getting up to.
To finish off the session, I then gave all of the Country Arts SA staff a blank A4 piece of paper that I had folded into a zine and I asked them to create their own little reminder zine of the things that had stood out to them from the session. I also asked them to write one action in their zine of something they will personally do to make space and opportunities for young people in the work of Country Arts SA in 2018. I collected all of the zines and took photos of them to collate all the actions into a big anonymous list (before returning them so everyone can hang onto their little reminder zine). The anonymous list is a way of everyone getting to see all the different kinds of ways young people can be part of our work. I’m also going to directly and individually follow up with everyone across the year about their chosen action. Not to check up on them, but just as an accountability buddy to see how their action went/is going and if they need any help to realise it.
There were some people who chose not to make a zine and commit an action, but overwhelmingly most of the staff got really involved in the whole session which was awesome and really heartening for me and our guests. I’m pumped to touch base with everyone later in the year to see how some of their actions went.
P.S – other activities, presentations and sharing across the two days included a panel with Vitalstatistix Director Emma Webb and artists Jimmy Dodd and Emily Steel, some group discussion with artists who are completing residency projects with Country Arts SA in 2018 (including Dave Brown from Paper Boats, playwright Elena Carapetis and Jamie Harding from Generate8 in Mount Gambier), a cultural walk with Clem Newchurch, a session looking at mental health and self-care in the arts industry, updates from regional team and HR and a whole bunch of other bits and bobs.
IMAGE: a snap of the reminder zines made by Country Arts SA staff, Tuesday 13th February 2018