Monday 29 April 2013

Highlights again

A while back, I ran an Awayday for Highlights Rural Touring.  I was pleased when they asked me back to run another - repeat business being the sincerest form of flattery, in my experience!

Highlights are in the business of bringing art to people who wouldn't otherwise have access to it.  So they have a programme of theatrical productions, music, a craft tour, workshops and so on produced in village halls and similar venues in Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria.

In these difficult times, with arts funding being cut, the Board was keen to look at alternative ways of working.

As in 2012, we held the awayday in a Village Hall, which seems wholly appropriate for the organisation; and as last time, we were very well looked after, and very well fed.

The day itself was both stimulating and enjoyable.  We spent a large part of the day in small groups discussing priority issues, and then reconvening in plenary to share insights and ideas for action.

The level of commitment, both of the staff, and of the volunteers who sit on the Board, always impresses me, as did the quality and quantity of creative ideas they were able to come up with.  Even more important was their willingness to commit to action at the end of the day.

So I, for one, was reassured that they will not only survive, but continue to thrive, despite the very real challenges they face.  If you are in the North, have a look at their programme, and go along to support their events: they are always worth it!

Too cool!

I blogged recently with a link to Atau Tanaka's cutting edge performance at the Sorbonne.  Atau kindly sent me a link to this, which also falls in the Too Cool! category - a new keyboard called the Seaboard.

It has been developed by some of his friends whose wwwsite has more demos and information.

Needless to say, my kids all want one, but given I couldn't find a price on the site, I am somewhat nervous...

Friday 19 April 2013

Open Space

Yesterday we had the day on Learning and Teaching at Cardiff Futures.

We ran the day as an Open Space Event.

So the agenda at the start of the day looked like this:

Tricia Price, the PVC for Student Experience and Academic Standards set the context by telling us some of the issues that 'keep her awake at night.'

Participants then said what they felt it would be most valuable to discuss and crafted an agenda for the day, based on which of them wanted to discuss which issues.

 So a little later, the agenda look like this:

So that's what we did!

The beauty of this process is that people get to talk about the issues that they believe to be most important and interesting: it should ensure that nobody leaves feeling 'the one thing we really needed to talk about was...' and it acknowledges, honours, and draws upon the high levels of expertise that reside within the group.

Towards the end of the day, we came back together in plenary, and some highlights of the discussions were shared with Colin Riordan, the Vice Chancellor and the Tricia Price, the relevant PVC, as well as between participants.

We ended the day, as we usually do, with 'brief Action Learning' in the small sets that have been running throughout the programme.

This is the penultimate day of the programme: we have a final day of reflection and celebration in June; and then kick off a new programme with a new cohort in the autumn (book early to avoid disappointment!)