a curator of spoken word and creative projects; I work independently, and also with the companies renaissance one and Tilt

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Melanie Abrahams's blog


June 27, 2010 by Melanie Abrahams   Comments (0)

As part of the CLP re:freshers starting in 10 days time, Mark Wright and Liz Magree of People Create http://www.people-create.co.uk/ run a session on resilience which is also one of the 6 themes running through re:freshers. 

In our current culture we sometimes see that fame, money, success can come 'overnight' to those in the public eye, for musicians who suddently make chart success or sensation for instance, and just as quick we see the fame and reputation disappear or have no follow-up or end up in a warts-and-all documentary about the rise and fall of spotlit person.

So given this rush-rush style zeitgeist, resilience particularly means to me the having of 'a long-view' - a sense of long-term commitment and 'giving time' to a particular impetus, value or vision - it may not yet be in view to you and perhaps no-one else can see it yet, but you will work at it, and work for it, regardless.

Willpower and determination has often been used to describe visible effort, a sense of overt physicality a la comic book heroes of Iron Man, exertions at the gym, but it can just as much mean a quiet sort of determination.   The invisible kind.  I'm not talking here about resigned feeling, more a quiet determination to 'keep on keepin' on' - continue to do what you do - and it will come good in the end. Who sums it up visibly for me? I'd say the 'character' of Clint Eastwood, both on and off screen and Maya Angelou who with the slightest flicker of her elegant features shows so much going on and whirring around her.

Call it values or vision or... - there are many names for the quality we observe in the people we see having resilience.


what's in a naming?

June 22, 2010 by Melanie Abrahams   Comments (0)

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As a curator, producer and galvaniser working in the creative industries I have a relatively stable set of roles and identity.  It wasn’t always this way.  My ‘career’ so to speak has had twists and turns. It’s been fashioned through a series of roles up to my late 20s – often feeling like career was strolling beside me for the first 14 working years – which suddenly meshed with a childhood passion for reading books and watching films. Just like that, I had an impetus. I found my bliss.  or it found me.

So my work has turned out to be ‘serious’ business.  Of sorts.  I value having the passion for what I want to do each and every day.  I’m pretty disciplined.  Although even when I was doing dead end jobs for the man I showed discipline.

These days I'm around a range of language on leadership.  It definitely feels multilingual.  It interests me, as someone who has set up on her own before being able to develop a team and staff.  Who do you lead as a sole trader or practitioner?  For many years leadership was something Ghandhi or Martin Luther King did, it was visibly more male than female, it was often on TV and on papers than in my general milieu.  Something from afar.  

I would foster relationships with artists, many long-term, and this formed the core of my work.  At the time I would have defined it as 'being in service' to artists rather than a leadership sensibility.   But nowadays in retrospect I realise that at that time, I was doing what Common Purpose and the Cultural Leadership Programme refers to as  ‘leading beyond authority’ and notice that many freelancers, sole traders, arts practitioners and all sorts of other people in and outside the arts do it too all the time.  They influence as par the course.  Without it there would be no project, no outcome, no meaningful relationship between them and the person they’re working or collaborating with. 

It’s amazing isn't it what one can do when there’s no other option.  Notable too  that situations often take root before one is able to find the language to describe and name what’s happening. 

Makes you think that those who shape and those who have the nerve to see their impetus through to an uncertain conclusion should take the time to name.  Makes me think of the Amiri Baraka quote ‘to name something is to wait for it in the place you think it will pass.’