The Journey To Co-Creation

This is a quick recap of the first in a series of three workshops hosted in collaboration with PlatformThirty1 as part of our new Creative Agents programme. The session was led by Jodie Cresswell-Waring and held at Infinite Wellbeing Community Centre in Heanor on Tuesday 11th June 2024.

What does it take to be a conscious, co-creation Community Facilitator? How can we disrupt the Lead Artist & Project Manager model?
The session was structured to unpack these two pretty epic questions together. Jodie tapped into her vast experience of living and working in her community to help share insights about what it takes to hold space for deep connection and collaboration in the places we call home and how we all have a role to play in shifting how power, resources and ownership flow … and believe it our not it all started with Zebras!

Let’s Dazzle
Did you know that a herd or group of Zebras is called “a dazzle”. What a brilliant word! Like a pod or a gaggle or a swarm but so much cooler! Together, a dazzle of zebras can outwit their predators by combining their unique stripe patterns together into dynamic group patterns that make it almost impossible to separate out individuals from the group.

The workshop got us thinking about what might become possible if we could all be part of a dazzle of neighbours working together in the places we care about. This was defo my favourite fact about Zebras, but there were loads more and Jodie shared her top facilitator facts in a super playful and creative way using each of the zebra facts to get us thinking about what it takes to hold space as a community facilitator.

Then we each took a bit of time to think about what our own unique facilitator stripes might be. Digging into our unique interests, talents, skills, experiences, passions, place, positionality to create our own zebra stripes.

Before forming our own wee momentary dazzle as a group.

Greater Creative
Jodes went on to talk a bit more about her experience working in Blackwell Parish, where she grew up and still lives. Over the past four years, more than 4000 neighbours have been involved in Greater Creative, working together to make Blackwell Parish a community-led, connected, playful and proud parish that celebrates its people and places. You can find out a bit more about this deep, rigorous and inspiring work (and get along to support it) here.

Buzz Words
We spent a bit of time unpacked some of the buzz words that are currently thrown around and used very differently in different sectors. These are the definitions that Jodes uses in relation to her work:

Culture — the way of life of a particular people

“Culture is made by everyone, everyday in loads of different ways”

Co-Creation — Intentionally collaborating together to decide / make / do

“Co-creation shifts power, resources and ownership towards the people the work is intended to benefit, as opposed to the traditional ‘top down’ approach. It encourages every individual to activate their creative potential and realise their own ability to make change”.

Cultural Democracy — everybody’s heritage and cultural expression is worthwhile and deserving of an equitable share of power, resource and voice.

“Cultural Democracy describes an approach to arts and culture that actively engages everyone in deciding what counts as culture, where it happens, who makes it and who experiences it”

Co-Creation — Processes and approaches:
We talked about some of the different approaches and methods that underpin co-creation.

  • takes places with and not to
  • is process driven not product driven
  • has no set outputs but is outcome focused
  • prioritises how not what
  • shifts agency and power and challenges privelge
  • brings partners together on an equal footing
  • is relational not transactional
  • empowers and includes
  • requires transparency, self awareness and honesty
  • the end goal is for community to own and lead / and that you are no longer needed

And about some of ways of doing and being that make this work possible:
# Listening #Responding #Caring #Adapting #Representing

The standout theme from the session was around power and ownership. Getting us to think much more deeply and honestly about this. And sitting with some of the discomfort that this can throw up.

What power have you got? Where did you get it from? How do you use it?

Everyone had a go at using the Agency Scale designed to help people and organisations think about where power and agency sits for different activities and projects they are involved in. The tool was originally developed by Co-Creating Change a network and programme exploring the role artists, cultural organisations and communities can play in co-creating change together. Jodes made it clear that there is no right and wrong but that it can be a really important and humbling part of the process to be open and honest about where you’re at, how long it can take and how much work goes into really getting power, resources and ownership flowing in new ways.

If you’re curious to find out more you can dive into our Creative Agents Padlet and let us know of any other useful resources that we can add in!

Massive thanks to Jodie for sharing so openly and generously!

Creative Agents
We ended the session with a bit of a Q&A about our new Neighbourhood Creative Agents programme. You can find out more here and apply by sending us a completed version of this form here by 4th July.

We talked through the dates, application process and some of the requirements. A few questions that came up below:

Q: What if I live just outside Amber Valley
A: This programme is about working in a place you care about. The place, neighbourhood, street, village, community you choose to work with as a Creative Agent will need to be in Amber Valley. If have a meaningful connection and can tell us why you want to work here, its definitely worth applying.

Q: Can the budget be used to pay for my own time?
A: Yes. If that’s needed and important to making something happen where you live. Each Creative Agents budget / approach / situation will be different so we’re happy to explore what might work best for you in your context.

Q: Will shortlisted applicants be interviewed?
A: We’ll arrange an informal zoom call with all shortlisted Creative Agents in July.

Some lovely comments at the end of the session:

“Definitely got the cogs moving on what is possible to be part of for this community”

“I had quite a few “aha” moments”

“Its got my brain whirring!”

“I’m thinking about how I can change what I do already”

Next up!
Join us at Somercotes Village Hall on Monday 17th June for:
What it means to work on your doorstep Tickets, Mon 17 Jun 2024 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

We’ll be diving into what it means to work on your doorstep. Exploring the hats we wear as professionals, & the hearts we have living in a community. Sharing tales & talking through the beauty & brutality of these two worlds meeting in this practice.

We are Make/Shift. A growing collective of people, groups and organisations who believe in the creative power of communities to make positive change in the places they live.

We are rooted in Amber Valley, Derbyshire with networks reaching out beyond. We believe everyone is creative and want Amber Valley to be a place full of makers, where everyone’s creativity matters.

A big part of our work is testing new ways of working and learning together, which shift more power and resources to communities to make decisions, take action, and make change together on their doorstep.

Make/Shift is part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme. Find out more >>>

Platform Thirty1 are a local arts organisation specialising in enabling others to cultivate social change through artistic practice, cultural endeavour and creativity.

We are interested in changing the balance of power and agency through a co-created approach, with partners and participants. There are three core strands to our work:

Sector Development: predominately cross-sector work supporting professionals in arts, education, and neighbourhood spaces
Community: predominately co-creating with residents and a community-first approach in ex-industrial places in Derbyshire
Refuges: predominately women and children who are victims and survivors of domestic abuse
Find out more >>>

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