Resources Article

Transformative conversations

Clore 18 Fellow Jo Bradshaw reflects on the first three months of her Clore Leadership journey. 

As the ‘back to work’ feelings kick in, and I start to plot the final three months of my Clore time I’ve been reflecting on the highlights of the first three months.

I’ve enjoyed and been inspired by some great training sessions, bonded with my Clore cohort at the residency, attended a conference all about failure(!), and wandered down my own roads of exploration into arts policy, knowledge exchange, the workings of government and best practice in disability arts programming.

But, I’ve realised, the real stand out for me has been conversations. It sounds so simple (and obvious!), but being part of the Clore Fellowship has felt like a ‘golden ticket’ to ask all sorts of people for a chat. And those chats have been revelatory.

As Laura Cream (Director of Public & Community Engagement, UCL) knows, I was suffering from a big case of imposter syndrome when I turned up to my very first ‘official’ Clore chat with her. I felt a bit of a fraud for not having an official businessy agenda, and really just wanting to spend time exploring ideas with someone whose work I so admired. Laura was just the right person for my first meeting, she was so warm, encouraging and expansive that we hit onto the most fabulous seam of shared interests around disability accessible programming, knowledge exchange, and the complexities of connecting the culture sector and universities. We’ve spoken since, and I’m delighted my first bit of bravery was so well rewarded.

In November, I got to experience the razor sharp insights of Elaine Gurian, who, fresh from speaking at the Museums Association conference in Edinburgh kindly made time for breakfast with me. Have you ever experienced someone, gently and with huge grace, pointing out your personal leadership challenges to you with humour and understanding within 30 minutes of meeting you… and being spot on? No? I now have! and thanks to Elaine I was able to see around the corners of an idea I’d been toying with, and make inspiring plans for a trip to New York in late January.

Then, just before Christmas, I made a pilgrimage to an organisation I’ve admired for years, The House of St Barnabas, to meet with CEO Rosie Ferguson. Her organisation does some of the most interesting, entrepreneurial work I’ve come across combining a mission to end the cycle of homelessness with running a truly gorgeous, arts focussed, members club in the heart of Soho. Rosie was able to articulate to me so clearly her mission, and how that mission was absolutely the heart of all the work they do; it was clear that her leadership is truly visionary – with a depth of authenticity that comes from being mission led.

As I move into the next phase of my Clore time I’m excited to keep using my ‘golden ticket’ to big conversations, and I’d nudge you gently (just like Elaine did with me) to find your own… send that email, ask that person you’ve admired for a 30 minute coffee, and see where those chats might lead you.

Themes Alumni Journeys