Reflections on the Creative Communities Fellowship

Back in November I entered the ‘Creative Communities Fellowship House’, a five day residential retreat in Yorkshire to explore how to exercise leadership in using arts and culture to drive transformational change in my community.

In early 2020 I had been selected to be part of the first UK cohort of the ‘Creative Communities Fellowship‘, an international partnership between Derby Museums and United States-based NAS with support from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy (CSIS).

The ‘House’ was the culmination of a year of online learning and gatherings to connect with other creative entrepreneurs across the UK. Through online retreats, small group work and a series of modules, we learnt new tools and strategies, completing assignments and sharing our thoughts and experiences. Eventually meeting with people and bonding over good food, silly games, dancing, singing and walks in the beautiful surroundings was nourishing and important, especially in the context of the challenges of Covid-19.

Morning walks to connect with nature and one another

Our learning was supported by a team of facilitators from the USA and the UK who generously shared their extensive experience with us. We were able to take advantage of one-to-one meetings with mentors and shape the schedule around our own enquiries.

It’s been an inspirational journey to be part of a community of people doing pioneering and important work in their communities. Getting to grips with tools such as Design Thinking and Logic Models, and seeing how they can be applied with a focus on equity and participation, is something that I’m already bringing into my creative practice and sharing with my community. I’ll be striving to continue the learning and collaborate with others on this journey.

Huge gratitude to the whole ‘House’ – there are too many special people to mention, but you know who you are and you all brought the magic in so many different ways. However, I WILL give a special mention to Hannah Fox, whose tenacity and ambition brought the Fellowship to the UK. The Creative Communities Fellowship was funded through Arts Council England and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch).