Jorge Lizalde

Culture lab consists of seven full-day sessions over five months.

Each programme day will begin with a check-in for all the participants and an outline of the day ahead. The morning and afternoon sessions will be dictated by the shape of the activity envisaged, but there will always be a check-out session at the end before freeing people to have their own space and time for reflection. In general, evenings will consist of a more informal session with an inspiring keynote speaker before dinner where there’ll also be room for relaxed questions and discussion.

We want to take participants away from their normal environment in a beautiful natural place that reflects the values of the programme. Consideration will be given to the geographical spread of everyone taking part in the programme and venues will be selected accordingly. The programme will be delivered in English.

The sessions are as follows:

Session One: What’s the problem?

1-3rd April 2016 (Machynlleth)

Culture lab begins with a two-day residential retreat at The Centre For Alternative Technology in Machynlleth. We want to get some unique insight into the kind of challenges we are facing across a range of fronts – economic, environmental, social and cultural – through input from some leading thinkers, policy makers and strategists. We want to provoke people to look to the horizon and think more universally about their challenges.

Session Two: What do we need to address the problem?

1-3rd April 2016 (Machynlleth)

We’ll share research and seek input from cultural leaders who put their values at the heart of what they do, starting to explore different ways of looking at the wider issues.

Session Three: What’s our strategy?

21st April 2016 (Brecon)

Drawing on systems theory, we’ll look at what we need to change and what interventions can be made. Referring to work by Donella Meadows around “leverage points” and her 12 Places to Intervene in a System, there would be additional exploration of how change happens through case studies and input from speakers.

Session Four: What leadership do we need?

19th May 2016 (Cardiff)

With a perspective on how digital is both metaphorically and materially affecting how society is organising itself, we’ll take a look at old and new models of artistic leadership. We’ll also explore how artists are leading change and how new forms negotiate the challenges presented by the need for sustainability, collaboration and a different approach to resources.

Session Five: What’s our story?

16th June 2016 (Newport)

This session is structured around an advocacy exercise developed by Harvard academic Marshall Ganz, The Story of Self – a powerful tool that uses storytelling to create a compelling narrative of leadership by aligning ideas around three questions: “Why me? Why us? Why now?”

Session Six: What’s our vision?

15-17th July 2016 (Port Talbot)

Launching the second residential, we’re inspired by Iceland’s attempt to crowd-source its new constitution in 2009. This facilitated session would challenge the group to collectively negotiate agreement on a new vision and manifesto or constitution for the cultural sector.

Session Seven: What next?

15-17th July 2016 (Port Talbot)

Focussing on individual needs, the session will be a natural culmination of the programme with individual evaluation, action planning and an inspiring graduation speaker.

Culture lab is going to be strongly participatory, deploying many key practices from action learning. So, it will be necessary for people to prepare between sessions. We’ll provide people with internal support through buddying and mentoring provided by the three facilitators while ongoing support will be provided through the creation of action learning sets who’ll meet between programme days. The time commitment between sessions will be just under a full day.

Culture lab contributions

Each place on Culture lab costs around £4,000. That’s a lot of money, which is why we have worked to attract funding from various sources, including The Arts Council of Wales. However, that funding doesn’t cover everything, so we are asking participants to help meet that gap with the following suggested banding:

  • £600 per person (expected from larger organisations and agencies £150k>)
  • £450 per person (expected for smaller organisations £100-£150k)
  • £150 per person (expected from independents and freelancers)

We don’t want to exclude anyone (even those in larger organisations) so let us know honestly what you can contribute. If you are from a grassroots organisation or on a very low income, we wouldn’t necessarily expect you to afford this. We also have some (limited) funding to cover travel expenses, if this would be helpful to you, let us know in your application.

Culture lab will promote and enable

  • Collaboration
  • Resilience
  • Sustainability
  • Advocacy and training
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Education in the political reality of the sector in UK society

Culture lab will be a strongly participatory programme offering opportunity for challenge, analysis, inspiration, reflection and discussion. We’re engaging leading thinkers, policy-makers and practitioners drawn from a variety of backgrounds and specialisms to contribute to the activity. Involving a mix of residential workshops and day-long sessions in beautiful locations, the programme will offer relevant training as well as informal sharing of experience as part of a close community of collaborators. Participants are expected to prepare between sessions while internal support will be encouraged through buddying and mentoring. Ongoing support will also be facilitated through the creation of action learning sets meeting between programme days. The emphasis will be on supported, non-directive development.

Culture lab key themes

  • Professional and personal development
  • A values-led approach
  • Time for reflection and space to do it in
  • Greater personal resilience and confidence
  • Emphasis on sustainability
  • Understanding 21st century leadership and context
  • Dialogue with peers
  • Fresh insight into practice


If all that sounds good to you …

Apply now

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