Looking ahead: Where next?
Updated: Sep 22
The end of October 2023 sees this round of Culture Collective funding come to an end. The opportunity to work as Programme Lead for the Culture Collective network for the past 2.5 years has been one of the great joys of my career, and there's a huge sense of pride and achievement at the work we've done together (as well as frustration that a permanent funding stream for participatory arts remains elusive - though that's for another blog).
Whilst 2.5 years has gone by in the blink of an eye, I'm also excited by the possibilities of what's ahead. Culture Collective has been fairly all-consuming, and as someone who thrives on the variety of freelance life, I'm excited to get my teeth into some new challenges. This moment of change brings an opportunity to really reflect on where I'd like to focus my energy next. I'd love to connect with those who might be working on areas of mutual interest over the coming months and years.
Themes and areas of interest (the issues I want to devote energy to)
Community and participatory arts: Obviously. Culture Collective was an intensive, inspiring experiment in the power of community arts, and what it takes to support it properly. My heart will always belong to local festivals, community choirs, village halls, libraries and yarn bombing. You can explore examples of my work in this area here and here.
Activism, equality and social change: My (ongoing) Masters in Social Anthropology explores what it takes to realise social change, what inspires us to take action, and how local actions connect with broader social change. As a long term feminist campaigner, I'd love to bring activism more closely into my work portfolio. You can explore examples of my work in this area here and here.
Grassroots / local power: I'm interested in disrupting hierarchies of power, in explorations of local direct action, citizen democracy and communities doing things for themselves. You can explore examples of my work in this area here and here.
Ethos and approach (the working environment I'd like to build)
Connecting action, research and advocacy: I'm really interested in how small-scale action can inform wider-scale thinking, how research can be used to make practical and meaningful change, and how we intentionally make space to centre new perspectives.
Values-led: I'm curious about how we design work environments that mirror the kind of sector we want to build, with fair pay, sustainable working patters and respect for one-another's commitments, capacities and responsibilities.
Collaborative: Culture Collective has been a joy for working with kind, brilliant people who support each other to do their best work, celebrate one-another's expertise and create exciting opportunities together. More of that, please.
Skills and experience (how I can usefully contribute)
Learning and evaluation. Helping projects, funders and organisations to think about what works, what helps, and where there's space for change. My approach is qualitative, conversational, creative and rooted in relationships. You can explore examples of my work in this area here, here and here.
Coordination. Juggling multiple elements of complicated projects, making things happen on time, on budget, and without anyone having a breakdown. You can explore examples of my work in this area here and here.
Advocacy and workshops. Championing the work of community and creative activity, fighting for more support for it, and sharing what I've learned to encourage more people to give it a go. You can explore examples of my work in this area here and here.
And (this one's for my own accountability), I'd like to create a bit more space for enjoying my own creativity this year. I've recently joined Applied Arts Scotland, and am looking forward to exploring new creative opportunities and inspirations. Here's a starter for ten on that.