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What's in a name?

By Royal Opera House

27 November 2009 at 5.53pm | 1 Comment

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!

By Royal Opera House

27 November 2009 at 5.53pm

This article has been categorised Uncategorised and tagged Education

This article has 1 comment

  1. Jo Smith responded on 3 December 2009 at 3:36pm Reply

    I notice that quite a few arts organisations are starting to rename their established Education depts. with the title Creative Learning (or even Participation and Learning). The cynic in me sees this as an attempt to potentially access certain pots of funding or a blatant attempt to fit with a certain trend or ethos in this sphere. However, although the name changes, the understanding of and even the delivery of the work doesn't always follow suit. The shift in focus of this kind of work is subtle yet not always clearly communicated to the parties involved, and that's where confusion takes hold. I think the term Education can cover a whole gamut of experience, but essentially as you say 'the words are important' because essentially in our society Education is nearly always connected to formal school or university/college learning. Perhaps either a new terminology or a new approach to the communicating with those who we wish to reach is what we need - a sense of something blossoming from the term 'Education' as opposed to literally changing a title.

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