Having been engaged in drama-based training since 1996, I was fascinated by the impact artists can have on an organisation and wanted to explore this further, writes Norma Pearson.
The Year of The Artist provided an opportunity for me to do this, through a collaboration with a photographer (Steve Hardman) on a bespoke arts-based training residency called ?Work Roles?. It took us several months and a great deal of hard work to find a host, but ultimately, we met with Avon Cosmetics who proved to be open and enthusiastic partners. They had limited experience of professional artists in their work place and the project was seen a real innovation for their human resources team.
There were 3 stages: research, participation and exhibition. In phase one we toured manufacturing, distribution, the customer services centre, and got to know people in all areas of the company. By being in the real working environment, taking photographs and talking to the workers at all level, we gained detailed knowledge and impressions of the working life of the company and its employees. This led to the development of the ?Many Me?s? arts-based business training programme for a group of training managers, using drama and photography workshops, and a mini-gallery was created to house an exhibition of Steve?s photographs which are a creative response to the environment and people of Avon.
The training evaluation showed that 90% of participants had discovered new things about themselves and some changed their work practice immediately as a result of the training. As most participants had at first been unsure of the value of the project for their own work, it was rewarding that there was such a high level of positive feedback. Indeed, the project has spawned many positive outcomes. Using both drama and photography we were able to reach a wide range of people, and this has led to new ideas for the design of bespoke training and other partnerships.
The company was able to address real operational needs in new ways which they were able to build into their existing evaluation and appraisal systems. The space used for the exhibition has now been adopted as a way of sharing internal communications through photography.
Norma Pearson is a drama practitioner who runs workshops and projects designed for personal development or simply for pleasure! t:01604 843615; e: firstname.lastname@example.org