So what have I learned from the first week of running a new Diploma course online? How have I been inspired, reassured, or worried ? How will I take this forward as I open applications for the 2nd cohort of Creative Producers who will join the CGO Institute in April? And how will it influence my discussions for the next Diploma course on a parallel creative programme which I am conceiving with a completely different Faculty for mid/end 2021 ?
Firstly it is invigorating to be back in a classroom, and back in a structured programme, after 6 months dreaming up the idea and working on my own at the desk.
On Mon 2nd Nov 2020 I was joined by some of the Faculty of experts including Alice McGrath (Scotland), Martin Platt (NYC), Guy Chapman (London), Nick Williams (Perth), Hugh Wooldridge (London), Kate Taylor (Edinburgh) for the opening day to meet and greet our 9 unsuspecting creative producers. Then over 2 days of classes they had creativity challenges from Alice and then David Glass, industry overviews from Guy and then Ellie Claughton, and a deeper exploration from three of the CGO Guardian Group on challenging Equality in audiences and the industry from Andi Hall, Tanya Agarwal, and Paul Whittaker OBE . By the end of 12 hours of input from the 12 of us their heads will have been spinning, but they are already turning into a crack unit of creative producers working together to change the industry.
Zoom gave me the opportunity to have this illustrious and amazing array of Faculty talent dropping in without breaking their day by travel to a physical classroom. It allowed us to use mini classroom spaces for smaller group discussions. It allowed a level of focus that may be difficult in a noisy classroom. And it allowed tea breaks to be so much shorter, because we weren’t all scrabbling to make each other tea and get the last digestive.
There were other amazing advantages – the opportunity for me to be listening to an expert, knowing that we were film recording the session, and offering a transcription for later review by the students. The chance for me to look up references and links which could be added to the chat when one Faculty member mentioned in passing an amazing director or company or theatre which they wanted the class to research. These tools give me the chance to gather the highest possible percentage of dropped wisdom from each teacher, not relying on every person to hear and understand every word. This will become especially useful when we explore the producing landscape with people for whom English is not a regular language of conversation.
What was lacking, compared to say a 2018 classroom in Wood Green with my old cohort of MA students ? Definitely the buzz of arriving in a space, and the sense of greetings and pairings onto sofas and chairs for pre-class chat. Definitely some of the energy and body language which help inform me about a class mate. Oh and being able to pop off for a coffee and gossip with my Faculty members after a session. It is more business-like, less social. That is no bad thing, but it takes a moment to adjust.
What will I change for the next DipCP course which starts in April 2021 ? Maybe a slightly lighter load in the first week, although there is an amazing sense of exhilarating exhaustion from meeting so many experts. Definitely some more time after sessions for me to unpick what has been said by a Faculty member and do some contextualising across artforms, interests and country differences. I’m already adding in some of that to help individuals plan their own navigation routes.
Applications are already coming in for April 2021 from around the world, and I haven’t really started shouting out about the course yet. That is exciting – the word seems to be getting out there. Now my task is to reach corners of the creative society that are not known to me, not in my extended bubble. The Diploma programmes are designed to attract people who do not have easy routes to market, or the time/money at the moment to do a 1 or 2 year Masters course. It is designed to attract people who could be the creative producers we need to change the world one show at a time, and think differently about culture and the arts. Time for me to go find them.
And as to the new Diploma designed to attract and serve another sector of the creative workforce, I couldn’t be happier with the Faculty who are saying YES to my invitations to be part of the programme. I need to take some time to shape it, and then get the announcement out there. It will be the first of its find in the world I think, and complement a couple of exceptional programmes available in NYC and London. It will be, once again, pitched as at a price which is practical in this current and future cloud based learning world. My lesson from this week – allow more time for in class discussion and unpicking wisdom from experts.
Exciting times in the office of the CGO Institute overlooking the dog walkers, beachcomers, the Outlander fans, and pub visitors in the tucked away village of Blackness-on-Sea.