Something that comes up repeatedly in the creative industries, is the need for time – to just be with a group of collaborators, and see what happens. We work in a beautiful and vital sector – but for reasons usually connected to funding dynamics, we very often work at pace surrounded by deadlines, driven by ‘outcomes’ and we are unable to prioritise the critical act of making space and time to allow ideas and creativity to grow.
For Entelechy Arts we are, like many others, a busy and relatively small organisation with constant to-do lists, funding bids to write, programmes to run. We are trying to find ways of making more space for creativity in the heart of the organisation and our operations – recently we’ve taken our team meetings out of the office and for a walk to our local stretch of the Thames in Deptford, we have cleared our office to make physical space for movement and creativity day-to-day, and are continuing with our second year of ‘A Date to Create’ enabling each member of the team to have a day to nurture their own creativity. Maybe you and your organisation do something to embed creativity – we’d love to hear and share.
More recently, on a bright Monday in September, we really gave ourselves time. We gathered together as a staff team with representatives from our programme members, associate artists and trustees to be creative together – with no pre-determined outcomes.
We took over a wonderful space in Peckham Levels for the day (highly recommended, for anyone looking!), and planned just 2 simple things. To eat together and be creative together. I had to resist creating a more formal agenda than this for the day – and lean into the ‘space’ we had created.
We shedded our job titles for the day. We shared lunch as a community – everyone serving each other, recommending the best sandwiches (they really were excellent). Robyn Herfellow led us in a vocal shouting, singing, saying, speaking, yelping extravaganza. We then covered the floor and tables with paper and got to painting, with twigs, leaves, sponges, brushes. There was chatter and there was silence. We then improvised movement together, taking it in turns to lead and creating a spontaneous, moving installation. Over the afternoon we filled the space with unexpected stories, impromptu installations, laughter and new connections.
What were the outcomes? Well – as you can guess from the point of the exercise, I can’t concretely tell you the answer to that.
For me, I noticed drawing and creative talents I hadn’t known were there, we laughed and shared the unique experience of shout/singing ‘Sausages’ in 50 different ways and singing an inane song about a Squid Pope. There was openness, gentleness and a deep appreciation for each others whole-selves. I feel connected to the people who were in the room – I feel I better understand their stories, their world and perspectives. This depth of engagement amongst our communities is vital to enabling us to continue to make authentic and important creative programmes.
It is critical that within the creative industries we prioritise making space in our day-to-day to take us out of our head and just be together, to see what creative seeds can be planted, and what may in time, flourish.