What's in a name?
Leadership within arts organisations is crucial to their success. That’s why 5 years ago a new training initiative was established – the Clore Leadership Programme – to help develop leadership skills in the specific area of culture and the arts. I went to meet this year’s “Fellows”, as they’re called, earlier in the autumn, during a day focusing on learning and participation. The session I led turned out to be a lively one, with a barrage of questions asked and issues raised by the group. We didn’t have nearly enough time to cover many of them fully, so it was great to have the opportunity to meet some of them again recently to go into things in a bit more depth.
The discussion was once again really stimulating and wide ranging. One of the many things I went away thinking about (and the subject of some debate with the Clore Fellows) was what we call our departments and programmes. Education? Learning? Participation? Discover? Connect? Engage? These, and variations on the themes, are just a few of the titles currently in use by arts organisations. I’ve heard both praise and criticism for each, and there was certainly no consensus about the most appropriate title during our discussion.
Ultimately, the words you use are far less important than the work you actually do, and the approach you take. But words are important, particularly when that work and approach are not always fully understood. At ROH we’ve called both our work and our department “Education” since the programme was first established in the early 1980s. We’ve stayed with that title, one advantage being that people, not least internally within our own organisation, are familiar with it. But the programme’s grown and evolved hugely, and continues to do so; should the title change to reflect this? Thoughts are welcome!