“…Sir, Yes Sir!”

August 6th

My second week in Edinburgh at The Fringe is punctuated by a trip home and  intense emailing back in the real world, as people start to drip back into work in my various networks…

So let’s see what else is happening on the flip-side of Menagerie….

I now have a backlog of four Arts Council, and one City Council reports to write, as well as two key funding applications. I am a terrible procrastinator on these – always wanting to do the projects – forgetting we need to raise the money too.

Funding is the key to a lot of our projects, and in particular those that involve risk-taking (which to be fair, is pretty well all of them). Funding is in many respects the safety harness for crazy projects; which truly are the only ones that have potential to make a difference…

Projects without funding from governments, foundations or authorities may well still go ahead, but the support acts as a catalyst and stabiliser. We then use our self-generated funds to push projects as far as we can into the riskier realms.

This week, I have been working on proposals involving either creative training for businesses, supporting creative artists in their development or our future artistic output.

We have proposals in at the moment for Executive coaching in Moscow, Enterprise development in South America, Team Building in a legal chambers in London, Audience development in Poland, Preventing Cyber- Bullying in Germany, Pan-African business development and supporting Creative entrepreneurs on the creative margins of Europe! We also have our own organisational development application in to The Arts Council and our biggie – our proposal for our Festival (Hotbed) for the next two years!

Our Legal Chambers proposal is working on a type of “Working Hard, Playing Hard” ethos for a Chambers in London. This is a day’s workshop to lay foundations for growth…challenging Administrators, Clerks and QCs to dynamically connect and move in the same direction.

Our Audience Development project is in Poland working (hopefully) with Agata Etmanowicz who was the Tiger of Tatras (see Blog…). This project is intriguing and challenging but one I am really looking forward to – how do you get people involved in culture as participants and as audience members? How can you create that sense of breaking down barriers so that arts activities are universal but retain their integrity and quality… I am not sure I know the answer but I will challenge myself and my colleagues in Warsaw and Wroclaw to explore the questions.

The EU application is with seven other partners looking at supporting Creative Industries and individuals on “The Margins” of Europe. The project will look at connecting successful organisations and individuals with those struggling to survive (or thrive) or those at early stages. Our role will hopefully be in supporting training and providing expertise in professionalising of creative individuals and organisations to get them to think and engage like Entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile in Cambridge we are working on a staff development project for Cambridge University Business School and some really interesting proposals for work supporting the spread of Enterprise teaching and opportunities with CEDAR at Anglia Ruskin University. Working with Professor Lester Lloyd- Reason.


I have supported CEDAR on some really interesting projects spreading Enterprise engagement. Most recently I supported CEDAR’s Bridge International project with UKTI, Barclays and Stellenbosch University bringing start-up companies from South Africa to the UK.


Projects bubbling away with CEDAR include a pan-African Enterprise project and one in South America. The idea of Enterprise Engagement being a governmental priority in many countries in the world is clear and CEDAR have a unique way of engaging in teaching using businesses and practitioners that supports this.

Another proposal is for a teambuilding session with a company in Bratislava, Slovakia….

We did a session a few months back for a conference for The American Chamber of Commerce in Bratislava. We were the graveyard slot of a long day where the sessions started at 9 am and we were on at 4pm. I watched, as 200 people became 100 then 60 then 30… However my determination to get these 30 people inspired put the devil in me and for our 45 minute session we had folks running a round jumping on tables and generally challenging themselves and each other in how to survive conferences like this…

The earlier sessions had included a motivational speech form an American communication “expert” on Leadership Communication which included us as an audience having to shout out Sir, Yes Sir!! When we agreed with what he said.!!!

To be fair I was just about the only person not screaming it out so maybe I was the only person who thought he was a crass, mis-guided egotistical twat who knew fuck all about anything…

Anyway he shall remain nameless and I am sure he and his stupid fucking dog (he brought his dg with him) would have hated my session on energy and engagement if he had stayed around – but of course he didn’t because my session wasn’t going to involve him listening to himself masturbate over deep and meaningful leadership lessons like be a follower not just a leader! That’s it .. that was the only lesson – apart from shouting Sir Yes Sir every five minutes.

Anyway he made me feel better about myself and taught me some valuable lessons:

  • Be confident but not arrogant
  • Don’t just talk about yourself
  • Say things that matter
  • Don’t be a twat

Anyway that conference was depressing at the time (surprising I was depressed after!!??) but worthwhile now as one of the 30 people that stayed liked our session and we got a customer out of it who wants to team build!

Actually, as with most Teambuilding requests it is all about Change – and how to handle re-organisation. For us this will be working with the team on their growth mind-set – essentially how they view the future and the challenges it may bring.

Our proposal is to run a two-day session – working towards achieving a seemingly impossible task… being truly effective in the workplace…we shall see.

More and more I am looking t the role of Engagement and Creativity in times of shift. During a meeting this week at Napier University in Edinburgh I was intrigued and inspired by a project Team Academy which focuses on teaching entrepreneurial business through learning by doing. A concept I have been propagating since I began workshops.

Team Academy


Our main contribution to these projects is around Engagement and Growth …to blow open people’s concepts of what can be achieved by individuals, by teams and organisations. Who they engage with and why – are they up to the task? if not how can they get to that place…?

Through workshops for Lawyers, Theatres, start-ups and established universities we are seeing common threads – people want to know how to gain ownership over their destinies and how to be part of a dynamic entrepreneurial story, whether it is their own company or not.

This is why we do these workshops using Artists and other Creatives … we love it, it feeds us (financially and organisationally), and challenges us.. but we also think it makes a difference…

Sitting behind all of this is our own company Organisational Development and re-working of  our business plan which is sitting clearly on the agenda – overdue!

We must look at our model so that our art stays at the heart of what we do – but also that we are entrepreneurial and fully engaged in making theatre and making a difference

Sir Yes Sir!!!!!