CEO Blog – w/c 27 May 2019

Action for Happiness.jpg

Action for Happiness poem taken from


This week has been incredibly rich, partly because I spent time with so many different people. I co-chaired a Future Arts Centres meeting to reflect on recent work, facilitated a group of North East programmers to select companies for our REACH strategic touring showcase, hosted a Venues North meeting in Sheffield, and worked with ARC staff to select ideas for our first Pizza and Pitches event.

It’s also been a good balanced week – spending time both in and out of the office, reflecting on impact of past activity, experiencing current activity through watching work at ARC, and planning future projects. Some of this planning has been with ARC staff, and some with external partners; some of those projects build on existing activity and others are entirely new.

Overall, it’s been an excellent week. Or maybe I just decided it was going to be?

I started the week fresh from a break, having had some annual leave. We’ve been thinking a lot about wellbeing at ARC, and I’ve committed to regularly sharing tips and advice – mainly to ensure at least once a week we encourage staff to stop and consider how they are, and whether there are things they – or we – can do to improve their wellbeing. Other staff are leading on other activities – ARC’s walking club, a monthly singalong and healthy office snacks, but my job is to keep wellbeing on everyone’s agenda.

There is a wealth of information out there to share – the New Economics Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing and Action for Happiness are two of my favourites – and this week I shared Happy at Work, a manifesto by Alexander Kjerulf. He argues that being happy at work is a choice, and whilst aware that many people aren’t able to make this choice, I felt there were some useful things to be taken from his thinking. I particularly liked the simplicity of his ideas, such as happiness at work being infectious and that the best way of making myself happy at work is to make other people happy.

The idea of choice runs throughout his manifesto and I’ve tried to hold onto an awareness of that all week. I’ve tried to remind myself that in any stressful or frustrating situation, I have a choice about how I react – I can share my negative feelings, and allow the situation to pull my mood down and that of others, or I can choose to keep it as an external issue, be practical and not let it infect the rest of the day.

Its definitely been easier to do that after a week’s break from work (see number 13 in Kjerulf’s manifesto: I recognise that happiness at work also comes from the time I don’t spend at work) but I am going to try and hang on to that choice.