Collaboration, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Artists – Agile Leaders

Just over a year ago, I started working with a new consortium called Agile Leaders. Led by ADAD (Association of Dancers from the African Diaspora, now with full NPO status!), the other members were East London Dance, led by the ineffable Kiki Gale, and Ochee Design led by Jason Kelly. I won’t name them all individually but it really was an exceptional group of people I hadn’t met before who included Judith, the quiet and wise Chair of ADAD (she’s from Irie Dance, a company I worked with years ago when we did Felix Cross’s Mass Carib); Jeanefer Jean Charles, a choreographer who did the Big Dance amongst other exciting projects, authoritative and perceptive; and of course the irrepressible Jeanette Bain, Chief Executive of ADAD who drives us all – Their particular obsession was to help artists from a multiplicity of creative backgrounds to increase their capacity for collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship. They secured funding from the Cultural Leadership Programme and commissioned me to do some work with them to help set it all up. So, to kick it off, we had an intense but hugely stimulating four days where I took them through the CIDA ‘COSTAR’ innovation process to generate ideas, assess them, polish them and then plan the innovation implementation. It was exhilarating and we all got a huge amount from it – they were endlessly inventive, questioning, challenging, and creative – through out it all, we never forgot for whom we were doing this and everything was focused on those emerging and established artists who might have the hunger for new ways of working. The group then went on and used the tools I’d given them to develop a remarkable training programme for collaborative work. They recruited a wonderfully mixed group of new young filmmakers, writers, choreographers, a story teller, photographers and musicians. They’ve been broken up into groups of three of four and have been developing a project each. Agile Leaders bought me in to work with them all to help kick off the development of new ideas and then, a few months later, I watched a dummy run of the presentations and was blown away – interesting, stimulating stuff! They have their formal Showcase on Thursday evening at Stratford East (7pm, admission FREE!) and if you can make it, it would be well worth it – I think one group will be selected to receive seed funding to help them bring the idea to reality – heaven only knows how the judges will make that decision! Good luck to them all!
[Anamaria Wills – w: http://www.cida.org; t: anamariacida; e: anamaria@cida.org]

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