CEO Weekly Blog – w/c 29 July



This week I’ve reflected on how I spent my time over the past seven days, how good a use of time it was and what value I can extract from each part.

Spending a day out of the office with a colleague helped me think about doing things differently. In striving to change who gets to make and experience arts and culture, we know we need to change how we do things. As well as providing time for focussed discussion, there is something about being in a different environment which better enables me to imagine doing things differently. Perhaps its because I am physically removed from how we do things now.

It also meant we could properly talk through the risks attached to change. Acknowledging risk at the outset, being clear it’s a trial, and reminding everyone we can always revert to previous ways of working if the changes don’t come off are all vital in supporting people through change and protecting them from negative feelings of failure. Embedding this ethos in our culture at ARC has helped us make big steps forward in what we do, such as introducing Pay What You Decide pricing.

Meeting the head of a partner organisation, who does an entirely different job to me, and taking the time to understand some of their current challenges was also useful. As well as helping me better connect on an individual level, building trust and respect that supports effective partnership working, it has a wider benefit. As an arts centre, we see ourselves as an anchor institution in the local community. Understanding what is going on around us, and how our work contributes to that community is critical. It is important to have multiple perspectives on that, not just our own, so we can constantly check the relevance and appropriateness of our activity.

I’ve had lots of artist meetings this week too – both with artists we are directly working with, and those we are supporting through advice and guidance. I value all the time that artists give us, acknowledging that they are often unpaid for that time. We are undoubtedly a richer organisation from being influenced by these conversations and hope that feeling is mutual. I meet so many artists with fantastic ideas and huge ambitions – if we can play a part in helping them believe in those, and remove some of the barriers, perceived or real, to achieving them, then it is time well spent.

Holding a Business Plan review with managers this week also felt worthwhile. It provided an opportunity to reflect – and celebrate – progress to date and remind ourselves of the strategy behind our day to day work. We reviewed training, development and staff wellbeing plans – as investing in ourselves is an important part of that strategy.

Overall, a pretty worthwhile week although I know at least five meetings lasted half an hour longer than I intended. It’s difficult not to start imagining what else I could have done in that extra 2.5 hours, so my mission for next week is to keep a better eye on the clock…