‘Are we there yet?’ Like impatient back-seat drivers towards the future, that was the question that a group of Wales-based Clore Fellows posed to a group of their peers – experienced and emerging leaders drawn from across Wales’s cultural sector– at our recent Leadership Development Day underneath the spotlights of BBC Wales’s Television Studio 1.
Kicking off a series of events that Clore will be producing across Wales between now and 2017, we wanted to explore the aspects of Welsh cultural leadership that make its cultural output so distinctive, and wonderfully so, and where it might head next.
What, then? A pride in radicalism, rebelliousness; the potentials of scale, and how a small nation has the opportunity to make genuine democratisation of culture not merely a dream but a reality; setting an international example in approaches to environmental sustainability: in discussions that brought together visual arts curators, theatre producers, museum leaders, circus performers, cultural policy experts and academics, themes such as these helped current and future leaders to build a picture of what their cultural landscape might look like over the coming decade.
As Clore’s Director Sue Hoyle expressed at the start of the day, leadership is not a job title, but a choice, and one that is available to us all. It was a choice that every participant made in attending and contributing to the event, spurred on by the growing community of Wales-based Fellows that have engaged with Clore’s programmes since 2005. Yvonne Murphy, talking to the room about her 2013/14 Arts Council of Wales Clore Fellowship, spoke powerfully of having her eyes lifted to the horizon, and of being allowed to become the person that she always had the potential to be.
‘Sit. Feast on your life.’ Words from Derek Walcott, remembered by the Arts Council of Wales’s Chief Executive, Nick Capaldi, reminding the room that our myriad of unique individual experiences contain the seeds of inspiring and successful leadership. Picking up this thread, relentless optimist and self-confessed ‘gang-maker’ Tim Smit painted the trail of his life, of the lessons and decisions that carried him from platinum records, to a brief attempt at pig farming, to the Lost Gardens of Heligan and finally the Eden Project, an environmental utopia with social focuses, which to date has contributed over £1 billion to the Cornish economy. As a project with values and vision that are pertinent to many of Wales’s most inspiring initiatives – Emergence’s series of provocations surrounding COP 21, for example – we asked Tim Smit: how did something so huge become so real? The answer? If you genuinely love an idea, it’s likely that other people will want to love it too.
We’re excited about continuing the conversations that we began in Cardiff into our future work in Wales. In June the 2015-16 Clore Fellows will immerse themselves in a study visit to Cardiff and the Valleys, and later in the year we’ll be holding the second of our Wales Leadership Development Days, also in the Valleys. If you’re based in the area and want to find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch with William.firstname.lastname@example.org