Out of my *comfort zone*

It’s that time when I reflect on my working practise and where I am professionally. What I’m doing that I could be doing better, what I’m doing that I probably should drop “Dump the bad – keep the good” check my professional *identity* etcera etcetera…

My first idea was to take a look at my creative practise, I used to work in and around theatre. Youth projects/arts projects, strategic development of creative projects was a sideline. That has now reversed. So I went way back, having been told over a pub lunch on holiday this summer that I should do something to feed the artist in me. The best conversations happen over lunch don’t you find? My artistic specialisms have been acting, photography and creative writing. When I looked back at my work I realised that whilst I still occasionally speak at conferences and events (acting) and having not so long ago un-retired my camera and started posting my photos on posterous and flickr and made contact with lots of other photographers whose work I like and admire, that left writing. For many years I didn’t write at all, but I’m not talking writing letters, or blogs, I’m talking sitting with my lap-top at three am trying to let the story out because you really should be prepping for a presentation or meeting and this story wont let you rest until its finished, once it is that’s it, carry on as normal). I blame the Arts Award (www.artsaward.org.uk)  for re-awakening the story teller in me (or is that fantasist? Who could know, no-one reads my stuff, how could they, I don’t let them!!) surrounded as I was by so much creativity. Something approaching ‘tentatively’ I created The Telling – a posterous site, to post some of the plot lines and story snippets of things I’ve been dreaming about for the last ten years or so.

I felt a bit of a fraud though, although it felt good to let go, it was too easy, only one person responded with a comment and it didn’t really ‘push’ me in any particular direction. Perhaps I should have sent a script out but really I’m not that brave (or patient) so instead I’ve signed up for a short online course with the University of Edinburgh – yes I know!! How cool am I !? Non academically hands on creative that I am (and how cool are they for offering online creative industry ‘cpd’ short courses  http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrc/teaching/cpd/ ). Also, next week I’m picking up where I left off with Own-It/University of the Arts, London and will be participating in a ‘Change Play Business’ meet at the London College of Communciation. If you think, these don’t count and I’ve got it wrong please let me know. I am listening and open to suggestions if you’ve got a better one. No really I am.

And this is what prompted my need for continuing professional development:

An invitation via my social networks to take part in a community arts event for the promise of ”expenses and a little bit extra’ which I don’t usually do (if you’re reading this creative sector students) without written commitment and a really good reason (ie. more than a DM on twitter and in order to break new ground. I had my suspicions, a lack of communication and overall a fairly laissez faire approach to pre-event info ). I took a punt because a good business is nothing if its risk averse and obviously the tip here is, can you afford to take the ‘punt’? I think my participation really enhanced the event and I had a nice thank you via twitter and feedback from people at the event but no reply to my “to whom/where should I send my invoice for travel expenses?” and no real conversation – which leaves me disappointed and shows that sometimes real conversation, important conversation can’t happen on twitter and often not even via email. I barely got to speak or meet the people present who were already ‘twitter connections’ but I did make some new connections with people I met. Small compensation but the weather was lovely and I re-learnt an old and basic lesson, if it matters then cross the i’s and dot the t’s and just because someone has a big profile/reputation online doesn’t mean they are good at what they do or reliable or courteous.

I mentor professionals, I’ve been around a long while but sometimes you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and do things that make you uncomfortable, or do something new, or untested because if you stop learning you lose your edge, the shiny-ness about your business that draws people to you and interests them in your services. Having had a sharp reminder of the need for due process, and coming up to the final meet with my latest mentee Becca who is part of OYAPs first group of Young Creative Leaders and is going to be a force of great ideas and motivation to reckon with in the years to come, see here:  http://www.oyap.org.uk/currentProjects.html  

I thought it was about time I pushed myself. I don’t mean to imply I’ve been rolling along doing alright and that work hasn’t been without its challenges and obstacles just that personally I was at a point where I knew what I was doing and after a life time of ‘in at the deep end’ it’s time for a ‘me-check’.



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Artsmonkey... Culture Active... Firestarter Arts active in the promotion, delivery and development of cultural projects and ideas, with a specialism in youth arts and theatre arts also a bit of a social media diva and photog