This is our moment to re-shape the public’s relationship with the arts.

COVID-19 has shattered a relationship that was already distinctly uncomfortable. However, the current crisis could also be an opportunity to create something better. Perhaps this is our moment to re-shape the public’s relationship with the arts?

When a relationship falls apart communication becomes increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, the public’s relationship with the arts has been on rocky ground for a very long time.  However, now that circumstances beyond our control have caused  this relationship to break down completely, we have an opportunity not just to re-forge it but to re-shape it. 

If we want to rebuild this relationship, we will need to find a shared language. It would help if we stopped using words that explain our relationships from one side only – words like access, participation and engagement. We could also stop asking how to get ‘into’ the arts. Instead, let’s explore what we can achieve when we come out to play together in a level playing field. After all, one thing that COVID-19 has clearly shown is that our fortunes are entwined.

We may need a different language, but it doesn’t have to be a new one, isn’t it time to rediscover the language of creative development? Isn’t it time for a common language that focuses on the quality of our lives, moments and relationships and not on numbers and markets and transactions?

Creative development is the simple, natural, universal process that we are all engaged in. It does not seek to avoid the uncertainty that arises from our interconnection but invites us to engage with it and to seek a creative alignment with each other and the wider world.  How we do this will require us to face some significant challenges, but surely it is better if we face them together? 

I’m currently working on an open programme of creative development that can be tailored to the needs of any individual, group or community.  We are all looking to find new ways of creating, collaborating and contributing together.  Please see this as an open invitation to join us – drop me a line if you’d like to know more.

What will we explore?

Research helps to to keep us open and in development, it helps us guide and organise our creative development.

We can use the natural flow of a walk to consider ‘what do we want to explore?’ in three phases:

  • Phase one: Research: Who are we?
  • Phase two: Practice: How will we interact?
  • Phase three: Plan: What impact will we have?

Along the way we explore what it means to be in development, how we build research into our practice and how we can organise ourselves (or our group) so that we can keep going.

This helps us create a research book with three parts: a notepad, development guide and our organisation.

Our Next Steps:

  • Start collecting the things that make us who we are
  • Reflect on how we can learn from our experience
  • Make notes on how we can organise and share our learning

#ThisIsOurMoment #OurResource #OurResearchBook

Our resources

Creative development resources are the things that we can draw on to aid our development. They include anything that impacts on our development in a positive way. 

Resources are both an indicator of the impact of our activities and a mechanism for creative development. We can analyse all our activities in terms of the degree to which they build, or restrict, our resources. They help us see whether we are making it easier for us all to be who we want to be. 

Resources are acquired through practice and improve with use.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

(Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics)

Focusing on building resources together helps us work towards a society where every one of us has the resources we need to fulfil our potential.

Next steps:

• Reflect on the resources we have and those that would like to acquire. 
• Consider how we can support each other to build our resources.
• Design a strategy to build the resources we need to be our true creative selves.

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Creative development is a distinct paradigm with its own set of values, concepts and processes that are often at odds with modern social norms. 

There is nothing new about creative development,  it is a natural and intuitive process, however it does question many popular assumptions about what we value and how we interact with each other. 

At its heart, creative development is about the quality of our lives and the moments we experience (rather than the quantity of our material possessions). In contrast to certainty, competition and disposability, creative development focusses on creativity, collaboration and sustainability.

Creative development  operates on the understanding that our fortunes are entwined, that it is impossible to isolate any one of us from each other or from the society that shapes us – and that we all help to shape. 

Creative development does not seek to avoid the uncertainty that is an inevitable consequence of our interconnection  but invites us to engage with uncertainty – to question, listen, explore – and be open to what follows. 

Creativity is about what we don’t know. Surely, the cost of man’s arrogance can no longer be tolerated? Now is the time for those who don’t know. This is our moment to be in development and adopt more creative, collaborative and sustainable approaches.  

Creative development is a universal and collaborative process. It is not achieved at the expense of others.  We do not compete for scarce resources rather we seek the positive mutual development in which we all benefit from each other’s creative development.  I suggest that it is only this positive, mutual development that can ultimately break the ongoing cycle of poverty, inequality, injustice and dependence.

Creative development is a strategic paradigm, it is about making the best use of all our resources to achieve our long term goals. It’s not just plastics we throw away, unfortunately, too many of our social interactions – our projects, events, courses and programmes – are arranged without sufficient regard for diversity and sustainability.  In contrast, strategic approaches to creative development ensure that everything we do takes place in the context of our long-term development as individuals, groups and communities.

Creative development is a robust and coherent paradigm in which all our motives and actions are derived from the same source – a shared recognition that the quality in our lives emerges from a creative alignment with each other and the wider world. 

Creative development invites us not to take things for granted but to engage with and explore fundamental questions like who do we want to be?  and ‘what do we want to achieve?’ 

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Next Steps:

  • Take a moment to stop, open up and notice our connection with each other and the wider world
  • Reflect on when we feel most ourselves and how we can allow creative development to occur..
  • Consider how we can interact with others so we can all be ourselves.
  • Analyse how our development can benefit others and the wider world. 

Every moment matters

Every moment brings
a seed of development, 
an invitation to collaborate and an opportunity to build a better world. 

Arts in development

Moments are the medium, the method and the goal of creative development.  

All our experience is made of moments. All development occurs in a moment. We experience the richness and quality of life through moments. Every moment carries echoes of the past and intimations of the future.

 Moments are the fundamental resources we need to be our selves. They are the building blocks of all creative development. They remind us who we want to be and help us find meaning in our lives and connection – with others and the wider world.

Understanding the moments we experience can make it more likely that we will have high quality moments in the future. 

We build our resource by recalling and sharing significant moments. (It is, for example, much more productive and helpful to share moments from a meeting or conversation than detailed minutes).

The goal of all creative development is to facilitate moments of quality (make them more not less likely to occur).

Next steps:

  • Start building our resource by recalling significant moments in the past and continue by noticing and recording moments as they occur.
  • Look out for moments that matter to the people around us and share reminders.
  • Consider how we can make it easier for people to experience more moments of quality.  

Who do we want to be?

This week we start a rolling programme of creative development, where every contribution counts towards our long-term development. Our development cycle repeats (at various levels) every day / week / month / quarter / year so we can start at any time and engage whenever suits us. Each week we focus on a specific element of a comprehensive development resource.

This is Our Moment is a resource to facilitate increasingly strategic approaches to creative development. It organises every aspect of our creative development and keeps growing and improving as we use it. 

We build our resource using a set of simple questions that all flow from (and inform) our understanding of who we want to be. Each question focusses on a specific element of the resource. Together they map out how everything can contribute to our creative development whilst also benefitting other people and the wider world. 

We start by exploring the central question of all creative development: who do we want to be?

The central question of development is: ‘who do we want to be?’ Ultimately, all our creative development flows from and feeds into our understanding of this question. This is a life-long process, which, if we work at it, becomes increasingly clear over time. 

Our responses are unique, there is no judgement, comparison or pretence involved, it is simply about understanding and accepting who we are, in this moment.  This honest look at ourselves is the starting point for our resource and all our creative development. 

We can use the natural flow of a ‘walk*’ to explore this question in three phases:

On the way, we reflect on why this is our moment to focus on our creative development and how we can build the resources we need to be ourselves. 

Next Steps:

  • Create a reminder of moments that help us be who we want to be.
  • Collect resources we can draw on to aid our development.
  • Organise our resources into the things we want to explore (our research book); the things we do (our practice manual); how we will keep going (our sustainability plan)
  • Identify our next step.

*To get the most from the programme you can order a Walks in Development map or book a Walk in Development (currently being delivered virtually over social media) from . Better still, why not subscribe @ and get a personalised programme tailored specifically to you, your group, or community?

 #ThisIsOurMoment #OurResource 

Letting go

When I see a broken branch hanging in a tree, I’m reminded of a moment in a wood when I realised that I need to let go of things that are important to me. I’ve noticed that trees are very good at shedding their dead wood but that I often need reminding.

Early on in a walk its worth considering, what can we let go of?

Letting go can be liberating. Sometimes we hold onto things because we’ve not worked them out, even though that may not be possible, unless we let them go.

I remember walking alongside someone who had become entangled in a host of confused feelings that seemed to pull them in different directions. As we walked they were able to look at each of these, one by one, in the cold light of day, and let go.  As they did so, it became increasingly clear that underneath all this confusion was a simple question which, as is often the case, contained its own answer.

I’m intrigued by how closely aligned letting go is with acceptance. Like a gift that must be both given and accepted, each is closely involved with the other.  It’s worth remembering that a gift is not a gift if it comes with strings attached and that nothing can be free until we let it go. 

As the trapeze artists knows only too well, all development requires letting go. 

Some questions to consider:

  • What can we let go of?
  • Are we carrying more than we need? 
  • What are we holding on to, that we could let go of?
  • Why is it hard to let go?

Other words to reflect on:

  • Acceptance
  • Allow
  • Open
  • Freedom

Still in development – and still walking

I am now offering virtual walks in development – walks we can do from isolation.

We take some time to focus on our creative development and support each other through the same process that happens on a walk but we don’t even need to leave our house. 

It’s very simple, we each stay in our own space but imagine we are walking together. During the virtual walk I send through some simple prompts and we share moments that occur to us through WhatsApp (or your preferred alternative).

After the walk I can support you to build your own creative development resource and show you how you can contribute to a collaborative resource that help us all focus on our long-term development. 

If you’d like to try it out just contact me to arrange a time, let me know how long you want to spend on your virtual walk, whether or not you want to invite others and if there is something specific you want to focus on and I’ll walk you through it. 

Our creative development resource

This is our moment is a universal creative development resource. It introduces a simple, shared process that helps us all become more creative, collaborative and sustainable.  This involves, understanding the resources we need to be ourselves and seeking to build these resources together. 

We each use the unique moments we experience to create our own guide through the life-long process of discovery and development. Together, we support each other to be our true creative selves and build a better world – moment by moment.

Contact me if you’d like to support to create your own resource.

Please share

Creative Development is the art of being ourselves, for which we need each other, particularly in difficult times.

Here is a simple way we can support each other – please share anything in development i.e. anything that is (a) positive and (b) helps us learn from our experience. Every contribution can help us build our development resources. I’d particularly like to hear about the moments you experience in your development.

It doesn’t have to be finished and polished,  if you’re brave enough to share early, please do so, – I’d love to see anything ‘in-development’ and remember I am here to to help you through the development process. After all, sometimes all we need is someone to walk alongside us. 

In the spirit of sharing early, here are a few thoughts about this moment in our development…

This moment is all we have

This is our moment
It is all we have
All we will ever have
There is nowhere to run
Nowhere to hide
We can’t wait it out
It is with us always
We can’t access any other moment
The past and the future are both out of bounds
Beyond reach and responsibility
But this moment is ever-present
Inviting or demanding
That we engage
On its terms only
An invitation, an opportunity, 
A challenge, or a crisis
It’s terms
Are non-negotiable
This is our moment.

Art and the market

Here’s a little piece I wrote about the value of art for ‘The Venice Vending Machine’ which comes to Bristol this coming Friday. Details are below – if you’d like to join us you would be very welcome indeed.

“Art has an uncomfortable relationship with the market. Artists engage with other markets every day without a thought, yet when it comes to art we often feel uncomfortable. Why is this?

The market is a place of exchange that uses currency to create a common understanding of value so that an exchange can take place. But, does this really apply to the arts? Can money and the market give us an accurate indication of how we value art?

The Venice Vending Machine invites us to explore this and other important questions that go right to the heart of how who we are and the kind of society we want to live in. It invites us to explore who and what is and artist?; How we value art?; and who gets to decide what has value?

If it is down to the market to decide the value of art then our ability to participate will be directly related to our level of income. This is not just unhealthy, it is also unhelpful as the value we put on currency is inversely related to our level of income – a tenner has far more value to some of us than to others. So, we have to ask ourselves whether the market can give us an accurate indication of the value of the arts?

Even if we think we can get an accurate measure of the financial value of a piece of art we still need to ask if this is really a good indication of its value? This, of course, depends on what we value and what is important to us.

It has always seemed odd to me that there are many more reports about the financial contribution of our creative industries than there are those that suggest the arts may be important in other ways. This begs an important question: Is the value of the art that it makes money or is the value of money that it enables us to make and experience art? Isn’t the purpose of development to enable people “to live long, healthy and creative lives”?

Perhaps the reason we feel uncomfortable is because ultimately art, cannot sit easily in a capitalist paradigm? Perhaps we can only resolve this discomfort by understanding creative development as a different and often competing paradigm – one that values the quality of human experience above quantitative measures of income or property?

The capitalist discourse is indeed dominant and pervasive, but, perhaps it is not the only way to think and to live? Maybe it is time to talk about art in a different way? Isn’t it time we talked more confidently about what it means to be creative and more openly and honestly about being our true creative selves however uncertain, anxious or depressed we may sometimes be? Perhaps we could stop assuming that everyone else is competing with us and extol the virtues of collaboration and postive mutual development? And perhaps it is time to stop treating people – and our planet – as disposable and recognise the long-term impacts of our actions for all those around us?

It seems to me that questions like this that are become increasingly urgent for us all and I’m delighted that The Venice Vending Machine plays the vital and important role of providing an open, creative and playful space for us to consider them together.”

The Venice Vending Machine is a “collaborative live art public installation”, conceived by Venetian artist Marina Moreno. Its aim is to question the role and the value of Art in our society, whilst promoting emerging artists alongside some famous and established ones. 

Artists submit small pieces of art that are placed in the Venice Vending Machine and revealed through random selection ONLY by engaging in a conversation with the curator of the machine who will actively promote the artists as she facilitates a lively, informative and often surprising mix of live-art, performance and discussion.

It is OK

It is OK to be ourselves

It is OK to be in development

Being in development does not mean that it will all be OK just that it is OK not to be OK.

It is OK to be uncertain 

It is OK to be unfinished

What makes people awesome is not what we might become but who we are right here right now in this moment.

To be in development is to be open.

Open  to learning, open to new experiences, open to question  and open to others. 

We don’t need to ask  permission to be ourselves. We are the only expert in our own lives

We don’t even need to start, we are already in development.

We’ve been in development our whole life!

It is OK.