Guest Post: Fall Regional Meeting by Paul Gravett

Guest Post: Fall Regional Meeting by Paul Gravett, Paul Gravett Consulting

For a long time I have been fascinated by the words that have taken hold in our language in our roles as arts administrators and funders. Words such as diversity, sustainability, engagement, community, collaboration, networking and (a favourite of mine) transformative.

For a long time I have been fascinated by the words that have taken hold in our language in our roles as arts administrators and funders. Words such as diversity, sustainability, engagement, community, collaboration, networking and (a favourite of mine) transformative.

There is nothing unique about the words themselves, yet they have become entrenched in our language – almost like mantras, our conversations circle around them. Part of my fascination comes from the variety of meanings invested in the words, making me wonder if we are actually speaking the same language.

Recently BCTC brought together artists and arts administrators with the Touring Council board in Kelowna. This provided an excellent forum to pause our busy lives and ask ourselves what do we mean when we use the words community, sustainability, diversity and engagement.

Several people started off with the dictionary, which provided thought-provoking definitions – not because we didn’t already know a definition, but because the dictionary provided an alternative perspective.

And, through the afternoon conversations, it became clear that each of us had a slightly different perspective on these words and a slightly different approach when putting them into action. By sharing ideas, successes and challenges, we began to see new meanings with a deeper consideration of our work and our intentions.

Of course, the nuancing definitions are not unique to artists and arts administrators, but no doubt to our funders as well. To boost articulate communication, the most sage advice of the afternoon was to provide your own definition of what you mean by outreach or diversity in your grant application narrative (there is another one of our mantra words).

We started the morning with the typical introductions, and added the question, “What would I like to tell a funder, but have always been afraid to do so.” An interesting question that provided snapshots of where each person is in his or her work life.

One individual put it poignantly, “I would want to tell them this work is hard.” As many in the room wear the multiple hats of artistic director, marketer, and fundraiser (among others), there wasn’t a person in the room who could not relate to the sentiment.

In closing the meeting, one or two voices spoke up to applaud the level of the sharing and learning, and offer kudos to BCTC for providing the forum. For years, the Touring Council has travelled to BC communities, providing these opportunities to meet, talk, think and explore.

These are the important moments when we can pause our difficult, yet rewarding work, and consider deeper meanings and share new perspectives.

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