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Sponsored Partnership between ArtsProfessional and people make it work

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the last 12 months and hatch plans for the next. Laura Twemlow shares details of a new programme for the new year.

Millicent Fawcett statue

We might be orientating to ACE’s investment principles, focussing on an NPO funding application, realigning to a changed funding landscape or just be relieved to see the end of a year that challenged every aspect of our work.  

But wherever our energy and focus lie, there are some absolute truths as we continue our pursuit of a transformative, diverse and equitable sector. 

  • There will be further uncertainty as we navigate the pandemic’s enduring impact. 
  • Our wellbeing, leadership, resilience and energy will be tested and stretched. 
  • Business models and income generation will need to adapt to changing circumstances and audience preferences. 
  • The voices, work, ideas and connections we hold, share and develop must be equitable and empowering. 
  • Despite our very best intentions there will be mistakes made. 
  • The future of the sector depends upon talent, development, accessibility, change, ambition, partnerships, collaboration, communities and innovation. 
  • We need to demonstrate an unstoppable commitment to the climate crisis to lead, inspire, activate and mobilise beyond reducing our carbon footprint. 
  • Ambition, resolutions and intentions alone will not deliver results.

With this potentially overwhelming list (and that’s not everything), where should we invest our effort and attention? How can we turn good intentions and resolutions into transformative results?

Unblocking the sector

We’ve been actively listening to cultural leaders, freelancers, producers, curators, and under-represented voices to hear what they think is needed right now to unleash, unblock and transform the sector. 

Empowered, enabled people bringing their best

People are our greatest asset. Real, embedded, transformative change doesn’t happen without collective energy, ideas and commitment. Our organisational culture, values, policies and working practices need a step change to enable everyone to bring and be at their best. 

Equitable, skilled leadership for systemic transformation

A health check on leadership is essential. Bold decisions are necessary. To distribute power equitably, amplify underrepresented voices and create systemic change we need support, skills, opportunities and allyship. 

Real change with real results

We might feel allergic to even more change right now, but it is inevitable and essential.  To truly transform our organisations, we need to invest in change management - planned, resourced, co-created and brilliantly communicated. The alternative is stasis and irrelevance. 

Continuous improvement to grow and flourish

We must create the space to learn, develop, reflect and test our thinking with peers. Taking this time might seem like a luxury but transforming the sector won’t happen by chance. New technology, hybrid working, shifting habits and digital consumption have all had our attention out of necessity. Space and time for growth, iteration, collaboration and learning is a necessity. 

So, what is your resolution?  

How will you ensure your resolution leads to results? What are you promising to make happen in 2022 and beyond? What are you committing to in your NPO application? What extra skills, processes, insights, networks, capacity or experience do you need? How will you deliver new commitments alongside existing priorities? How can you continue to deliver incredible quality, outstanding work while addressing the challenges of uncertainty? 

We’ve evolved our oversubscribed Change Creation programme into Creating Transformation to answer these questions. It’s an initiative for these times, designed to support organisations, groups and movements to create radical momentum, overcome embedded resistance and create transformational results. 

Creating Transformation programme

Creating Transformation is an 18-month programme supporting arts, cultural and heritage organisations, groups and movements to work in these ways, creating dramatic results.

Co-designed and co-created with the sector, we’ve shaped a programme that provides a supportive peer network, space, time and knowledge for learning and sharing, a focus on effective change management and leadership, and addresses the challenges in the sector - equity, accessibility, the climate crisis, developing and retaining talent. 

Our programmes rely on practice that is necessary in all organisations seeking to create quantum shifts. Whether Creating Transformation is for you or not, I want to share my insight about what it takes to unleash and enable transformation.        

  • Urgency, momentum: Creating urgency to break through slow, incremental institutional rhythms, to generate a shared momentum that means everyone is in action.
  • Inevitable manifestation: Identifying the interventions to make intentions INEVITABLE and supporting leaders to build energy and action around those interventions.
  • Unleashed agency: Embedding the conviction that everything we want to change is already someone’s job, and that change is done by people, not to them.
  • Declarative practice: Promoting the definition of transformational promises and then the systematic, unstoppable delivery of those promises. 
  • Nuanced thinking: Understanding, navigating and responding to complexity with compassion and curiosity.             
  • Organisational reset: Recognising the norms and myths that enable complacency, creating leadership action to reset the narrative.  
  • Complexity and nuance: Understanding, navigating and responding to the dynamics and intersectionality of diversity.
  • Co-creation and collaboration: Working with organisations, communities, people and peers different and similar to unite around a shared purpose and ambition. 

Our focus for 2022 is supporting whole organisational growth, supporting people to lead, re-model, re-think and deliver transformative results that see the sector grow in relevance, sustainability, resilience and equity. What’s yours? 

Laura Twemlow is an Associate Consultant at people make it work and Co-Director of the Change Creation and Creating Transformation programmes. 

Creating Transformation is a new programme for the arts and cultural sector. Recruitment for the programme begins in January. 

This article, sponsored and contributed by people make it work, is part of a series sharing insights and learning to support the cultural sector change and develop to meet the challenges it faces. 

people make is work is a group of 60 freelance cultural leaders who work together with a shared mission. Together, they support the cultural sector to change, develop and transform. They do that with transformational programmes for organisations, leaders and creative individuals, direct strategic consultancy for organisations and cities and by offering free tools, guidance, advice and resources that everyone can access. They do all this to realise a fairer, more representative, resilient and relevant cultural sector.

Link to Author(s): 


There is not much that is missing from Laura Twemlow's creative investigation. Yes, transformation is the key and unblocking the organisation is imperative and much supported by experts. If we take the 1+3 scenario, that what has happened this year and what is expected during the next three years, major transformation supported by refinancing the sector cannot be an option; the government is locked into defensive positions owing to the pandemic. Serious challenges to what the government is doing is not based on one's political persuasion; there are practical issues to examine just as what the above article is trying to achieve This is a time when markets are virtually dead owing to reduction of attendance at venues. However, this is great opportunity for management boards and top managers to take stock and to consider all the options that Laura is proposing. I believe that one aspect needs greater consideration. Audience tastes and preferences are not static given the immense power and impact of social and digital media. A review of marketing is critical and that means reviewing what an organisation needs to produce, the ticket prices that they can charge, the place- where is the production going to be hosted and what promotional strategies are going to be more applicable now than was the case in the past. Let us start by accepting the fact that the total arts and cultural funding is not going to increase. Laura does not seem to directly mention 'boards of directors' to whom CEO's report. I have seen many passive and leaderless boards, where the chairs have no vision but they love meetings. However, I have also seen very vibrant boards where it is the CEO that drives the organisation, not the chair. The role of leadership is going to be critically challenging in the next three years, assuming that your organisation survives...