Be realistic about what you can achieve and when #ADA
Steffy Clements, Projects Manager at Cape Farewell acknowledges that it's OK to wait until resources are in place as part of her fellowship at The Audience Diversity Academy.
I’m Steffy Clements and I am Projects Manager at Cape Farewell, a small charity with a big creative voice. We bring artists together with environmental scientists, and commission these creatives to produce work that engages the public about climate change.
When we signed up to the ADA programme early this year, we had an exciting year of projects planned including:
- presenting Michael Pinsky’s largescale artwork Pollution Pods at multiple sites across Birmingham to highlight the impact of air pollution in inner city areas;
- an ambitious locally collaborative expedition to the pacific Marshall Islands to creatively interrogate the impact of rising sea levels and nuclear testing on indigenous communities;
- and a project local to our HQ in Dorset, culturally translating the impact of farming on river ecosystems.
We hoped all of this would be inspiring material to fuel our experiments for the Academy!
Needless to say, the year has been very different to what we planned, as all our projects were cancelled in one fell swoop. As an organisation, we should be familiar with communicating through a crisis, after all, the climate emergency is the ongoing crisis that runs parallel to the pandemic, but it hasn’t been that easy.
Our lovely company manager Kim, who signed us up to the programme, departed from the company in early October due to some Covid-induced changes to her family circumstances. This left just me and our director David Buckland at the helm, both on part time hours with a hefty fundraising target, project development plan and strategic review in the pipeline. This, combined with mentally dealing with the pandemic, and the time taken to recruit a new company manager, has meant I have not been able to dedicate the time I would have liked to the ADA.
As an organisation we decided to initiate a strategic review, using this forced hiatus to reflect on ourselves as a charity, following such a shift in global events and narrative. In some ways, this means it is a great time to draw on the learning from ADA as we look ahead. I have found the webinars and peer review sessions inspiring and helpful as we enter this developmental stage as a company. However, the bulk of this strategic review will begin in January when we meet with our full board to reflect, discuss, plan and map out our priorities as an organisation for the future. I have therefore had to be honest and accept that, in a time of such change and with high demands on our reduced team, now is not the right time to be reaching out to new audiences.
With great support from my mentor, we have therefore agreed for me to continue to draw on the learning from the programme, but not force new experiments at a time that does not feel fitting. There is definitely a benefit in reflecting on expectation versus capacity, and acknowledging what helps most right now. The new year will bring new energy, a new addition to the team, a new voice for the organisation and at that point, I look forward to putting all the tools and experience I am drawing from the programme, towards my experiments in the future.
Steffy Clements is a producer, project and events manager with 16 years’ diverse experience across the Arts sector. From the Royal Albert Hall to outdoor performing arts festivals to international touring, she has worked with a huge range of multi discipline artists, always advocating community engagement, accessibility and sustainable practice.