Setting up a Yorkshire and Humber Skills Network

Interesting week – we ran a couple of sessions, one in Hull and one in Leeds, for creative organisations and practitioners to come together to talk about skills – The NSA supported us doing it and it gave a chance to promote their work, and to meet the two Founder Member FE Colleges in the region (Leeds and Grimsby). But I am sure they will all forgive me if I say that the really valuable result was getting a group of industry practitioners together to explore what skills are needed, what are in short supply and what new skills will be needed in the future. A group of us have been trying to do this for a couple of years, actually. I guess life has just got in the way. But now we are launched. We’ve set up a Ning ( and the sign ups were coming in thick and fast on Friday, I noticed. In CIDA we’re going to make an effort to keep it useful, with a range of information, but of course we want all the members to send in stuff, too. (Keeran, for example, from SAA UK has uploaded some gorgeous photos from some of their workshops). When times are tight, and they are going to get tighter as we know, the temptation to cut back on investing in professional development is very strong. But of course it’s the very time when you shouldn’t be doing that – higher level skills provide a route out of the worst impacts of the recession and it’s one investment you’ll never regret. However, realistically, it can be difficult and so I’d really like to think that we can use this network to help each other – whether it’s with information about what’s going on where; or about spare places on existing courses, especially in house; or even about bartering between us: ‘If I offer you a place on this, will you offer me a place on that?’, for example, although of course the bartering doesn’t have to be training – it might just be an exchange of services. It was clear from Monoday’s Arts Council meeting of RFOs that people are already thinking creatively about how to deal with the coming cuts – the potential for collaborative working, shared resources, joint tendering etc, all put on the table as ideas for future solutions. Hopefully, our Ning will provide an easy means of doing some of that. One of the most popular ideas from both Hull and Leeds was the idea that the Ning can offer a specific knowledge exchange service – less jargonistically known as a ‘Does anyone know someone who…….?’ service. Manchester University runs a rather sophisticated version of it and researchers post questions and get fabulous responses from all over the world – a kind of open source knowledge exchange. Well, ours may not (yet) be international, but it would still be very useful if we just supported each other across the region! So Ruth and Adam will be putting it all together over the next couple of weeks – if you haven’t joined yet, please do – we all need you! If you haven’t had an invitation to join, please just get in touch with Ruth (; 01484 483140) and she’ll send you one – the more people we have on it, the more useful it will be to everyone! When we suggested it, Wieke from the YDC moaned, saying she didn’t have time to go surfing – and we all agreed with that! But the point about the Ning is that it shouldn’t be regarded as surfing – it will be a resource – like your favourite reference book – it will only work if it is of use to you, not a nuisance – so it will have stuff on it that you might find worth having a look at (like a weekly TED Talk – just fab, for those that don’t know them) but will also have stuff that is just plain useful – possibly a clash diary, so we don’t all put on skills events at the same time; the ‘Does Anyone Know..’ service; useful links, etc etc – Wieke specifically challenged CIDA to put up some of the handouts we use for Raise the Bar, the course we run for artists and creative practitioners running their own businesses which we’ve recently done with ‘The Fourteen’ (selected dancers in her CPD programme at YDC) , and so we’ve agreed to rise to the challenge – if others of you have good stuff you can share, you could just upload it –

Anyway, have a look and let us know any ideas you have – I hope to meet you all at our next meeting which will be early October – if you didn’t get an invite to last week’s events, please let us know and we’ll be delighted to add you to our mailing list.