Anna, Emily, Johnny & Susan, Wakefield, 13 June 2012

Monday, 11 February 2013

The AirSpace development session

I have written up what happened with my three questions: and how that led me to plan an activity with the other 2 AirSpace directors.
The three questions that I was given were:
Which direction do you want to face?

How do you make the gallery relevant to the community in which its in?

What are the connections between everything that you are doing and how do they work for you?

Originally this was meant to help move on our group project, but has a much greater reach than we thought - something which was quickly realised.
I realised that attempting to answer these questions could help greatly in planning for the coming two years at AirSpace Gallery, and if the questions could be explored with Andy and Glen (co-directors at AirSpace Gallery) we could figure out what each of us wants to do, and build this in. 

What I realised was that though I am a named Director at AirSpace, I am not able to invest as much time as other Directors (as I work 4 days a week - and need time for my own practice as well.) For this reason, I need to make any involvement really work for me. 
I feel that with a small artist led organisation like ours, it is important to keep in mind the individual career aspirations of those involved, and ensure that time give (often voluntarily) has some kind of alternative benefit. For this reason I planned a facilitated activity to work with Andy and Glen, in order to try to understand our individual career aspirations for the next two years, and to look at those alongside our plans for the direction of the gallery for two years, and to see how these relate to each other.
Keeping the original 3 questions very much in mind, the activity was structured like this:
1. Each participant has 5 minutes to write down all the things they do for the gallery.
- then sort into: things you still want to do, things you would like support to do and things you no longer want to do.
Each participant then shares these, and a discussion around identifying gaps, and possible solutions for shifting roles/responsibilities takes place.
 2. Each participant has 3 minutes to note down goals and ambitions for the next 2 years.
3. Each participant has 3 minutes to note down all the things they would like to see the gallery doing over the next two years.
Then participants present their goals and ambitions, and then what they would like to see the gallery doing - and links between own goals and gallery goals are explored as well as links between participants.
(This helps us to understand what informs each of our approaches.) Very helpful! 
4. Participants note down 5 points in relation to what they feel AirSpace is and should be, with a view to write a new/relevant mission statement. These are looked at and discussed, and links/crossovers explored.
5. We discuss the original 3 questions set out at the beginning to see if we have answers yet.
A new mission statement is written in the subsequent weeks, plus a timeplan set out, and an arts council bid completed (almost).
The process was really helpful, and actually showed each of us what our individual approach is to the gallery, what we need at this point in time, and what we can offer.
We have a board meeting next week (for our newly structured board) and we can present what we did, and how it has been developmental for us.
And Yes we have written a new mission statement: Here is the old one:

AirSpace Gallery aims  to be the centre for the Visual Arts in Stoke-on-Trent and the region, providing gallery, studio, educational and meeting spaces.
And the new one:
AirSpace is a collaborative, artist led project in Stoke-on-Trent, providing professional development opportunities, studio and exhibiting space and support for artists. Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions, events and activities AirSpace gallery brings critical, high quality conceptual art to the region.
(Though we are just living with it for a few days before the board meeting and might change it.)

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