A Question of Leadership was a day-long event co-hosted by Curious Minds and DIY Theatre Company at Liverpool Hope University on Thursday 13 September 2018.
The day was attended by 120 teachers, cultural organisations, artists, performers and academics and throughout the day we explored the themes of leadership research and cultural education and inclusion through workshops, presentations and arts activities – including a leadership song!
The event was opened brilliantly by DIY’s patron Jenny Sealey MBE, who highlighted how much geese can teach us about leadership. When the goose which is leading tires it rotates back into formation and another goose flies into the leading position; a reminder of the strength and effectiveness there can be in acknowledging our interdependence when sharing leadership.
Following Jenny’s inspiring provocation, DIY Friday Group members showed the Exploring Leadership film we have been working on with Hilary Easter Jones. Then Karen Flood of First Step presented her own very personal provocation about why re-thinking leadership is important to people with learning disabilities.
During the day delegates could choose presentations and workshops within three inter-linked stands; cultural education and inclusion, research and leadership. For example, Open Theatre introduced its approach to ‘Creative Enabling’ a methodology based on the collaboration of disabled and non-disabled artists. Mind the Gap shared their experiences of collaborating with an academic researcher – looking at parenthood and people with learning disabilities. Creative Minds presented their learning about leadership through their experiences of running a series of national Learning Disability Arts conferences and there were six presentations by practicing SLICE (Senior Leaders in Cultural Education) fellows on a range of perspectives on inclusive education in school settings.
Sharing DIY’s thoughts on Leadership
In the morning DIY presented the research we have recently been involved in: Defining Moments: Leadership and Learning Disability Theatres. This research was undertaken as part of Sue’s Professional Doctorate in Applied Theatre at University of Manchester.
Later in the day DIY’s Friday Group ran a workshop about leadership at DIY. We asked everybody to reflect on everything they’d heard and talked about during the day and to create a human machine made of sounds and actions to communicate what they thought was most important about leadership.
One group chose the words and phrases: Sharing Ideas, Listening, Loud Voice, Compassion, Considering Everybody. A second group offered: Taking turns, Think of the audience, Team, Everyone on Board, Believe. Two of the four groups returned to the geese analogy introduced by Jenny Sealey at the beginning of the day and created human machines in “goose” formation. It’s clear that “ the goose analogy has wings” as one workshop participant put it.
What delegates said about the A Question of Leadership event:
“one of the best conferences ever! (I’ve been to a lot)”
“A great day, vibrant, poignant and full of energy”
“A great celebration of inclusion through the arts”
“It was amazing and so fun and useful”