Archive for February, 2012

February 8, 2012

Focused Conversations and Tiny Urban City Builders

I was at an interesting workshops yesterday about Focused Conversations using something called the FAIR Conversation Method Flow. Entrepreneuse School may be over but they offer these cool workshops free of charge to grads. Part learning, art networking, it was a great use of a morning.

FAIR stands for: Facts (getting the facts, sensory impressions, information – the objective level); Associations (personal reactions, associations, emotions, images – the reflective level); Interpretation (meaning and values, significance, purpose, implications – the interpretive level) and Resolve (resolution, action, future directions, next steps – the decisional level).

I thought when I first got there it was about general conversations, but really it’s a way to have extremely focused meetings – which to me is even better. I’m not a fan of meetings – to be precise I’m not a fan of bad meetings – where there is no clear objective, when they are hijacked by one person’s ideas or comments, when there are too many people or not the right people in the room the meeting that goes on and on, the “why am I even here??” meeting. Everyone has had their share of these. And everyone I am sure has tried to figure out a way of making meetings better.

The concept I really liked about this workshop was that the method focused on two outcomes at the end of the conversation:

Rational Aim: what the group will KNOW, learn or decide by the end of the conversation; the product of the conversation eg they will explore X, they will identify Y, they will make a decision about Z.

Experiential Aim: how the group will BE different at the end of the conversation; they will be excited by a new idea, they will have experienced helpful struggle; they will trust each other’s perspectives.

I’m not typing out all my handouts, but you get the idea.  And I’ll share the opening sequence example with you. I’d love to be in this meeting!

Set Context: “Today we are having a conversation about the best way to support a new program coordinator. Remember this is not about whether we need one or not – at this point it should be taken as a given. We should have a list of strategies by the end of the conversation.”

Set Parameters: “Let’s start with some working assumptions about our conversation.” (this is the creation of participation guidelines, whether that is that everyone in the room should be there, that all opinions will be heard, that there are no wrong answers, etc).

Clarify Roles: Who is leading the meeting? Who is facilitating? (important – do not let hierarchical systems hijack the facilitator.)

Establish Available Time: “We’ll take about half an hour for this conversation.”  (this is a biggie for me. An open-ended meeting is not an effective one. Once there is a length established, people tend to get to their point more quickly. Do not let this be hijacked. If it “requires further discussion”, move on and have that further discussion at a separate meeting.)

Ground the Conversation: “Let’s start our discussion by looking at the job description of the program coordinator.

An excellent workshop in my opinion – to me an excellent workshop is well run, has handouts (email or otherwise) and contains items and ideas that you are excited to take away with you and begin implementing immediately.


Studies have shown that children are the quickest to design, to answer, to do stuff. They figure things out quickly because they don’t over-complicate, they don’t attach a huge number of issues to an action, they don’t over-think things to the point of paralysis.

I feel like the above is the type of meeting they’d have. And I bet there will be proof of this on Sunday February 26th, 2:00 pm at Revival –  PSA#8 – Totsapalooze – Mouse City Calling.


February 6, 2012

Did Churchill Really Say That? Has Anyone Said Anything Since?

Woke up this morning thinking about quotes and people that support the arts, and people who don’t support the arts and the comparisons made to them (see Godwin’s Law) and began to wonder about some things.

I did a little checking on the internet about this quote: It was once suggested to Winston Churchill that he cut funding to the arts to pay for Britain’s war, to which he responded “Then what would we be fighting for?”

Nobody can seem to pinpoint where he said it. It’s a very Churchill thing to say though.

I like this one as well: the Direc­tor of the National Gallery, Ken­neth Clark, sug­gested that the paint­ings in the National Gallery should be sent from Lon­don to Canada. Churchill was like­wise against this sug­ges­tion, and emphat­i­cally so. “No,” he min­uted, “bury them in caves and cel­lars. None must go. We are going to beat them.”

Also a marvelous quote: “Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” – Gabrielle Roy. I like that it’s on the back of the twenty. And it’s a Canadian woman.

The first Churchill quote is a biggie when it comes to arts cuts. I can see why – a wartime Conservative Prime Minister who GOT it. But it got me to thinking – aren’t there other great quotes about the importance of art in a society?And why don’t we use more of them? Surely someone else has something momentous to say about the importance of what we do. And those quotes should make it into our deputations and fundraiser toasts as well.

Little help, here?

February 5, 2012

Sunday Roundup – February 5th

Groundhog Day has come and gone and it’s an early spring (though 6 more weeks of this type of winter would not have been a hardship).

This week was more about pages than posts so in order:

Linky Wednesday – I bookmark things constantly to write about, think about or post about and sometimes it gets cluttered. I cannot stand not being able to se all my bookmarks so I started cleaning house with this post.

Panels + Workshops – two requests in as many days so I figured it would be best to have the panels and workshops I’m giving or participating in all in one spot.

Linky Friday – my bookmarks page is now sparkling, let me tell you.

12 Hour Arts Marathon –  I’ve been thinking about this for weeks, and now that it’s on the Internet – I guess it’s true.

Bonus Post from another Blog – How Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me For Success. Love it. Have a read. I have to go make a Powerpoint presentation.

February 3, 2012

Linky Friday

Still more things I’d bookmarked and forgotten to tell you about. They’re good for a Friday, pictures and a TED video, which are always good.

75 Abandoned Theatres From Around the USA – I would prefer it if this was not the fate of our city-owned theatres. Beautiful buildings.

Canadian Stage has announced its 2012/13 season it looks fantastic and you KNOW which production  I cannot wait to see.

I’ve created a new page called Panels+Workshops so you can see which one’s I’m doing when. It is in progress.

And here you go: Use art to turn the world inside out. And have a good Friday.

February 1, 2012

Linky Wednesday

Some things I’ve found while clearing out my bookmarks.

Why Don’t Theatres Talk To Each Other More? – again from the Guardian.  When I saw the title, I assumed it was about the dilemma of the “fours openings, one night” that seems to happen a great deal here in Toronto. Despite the opening night directory that TAPA has, the problem of who gets the press is a frequent one.

This is more about not sharing marketing resources and PR – and that made it even more interesting. I think we do share this way more than the companies in the article – I think we do program stuffing, postcards at the box office, show this ticket and get X% of another company’s show and vice versa.
Do we?


4 Inspiring Examples of Digital Storytelling – some beautiful stuff.


Yesterday a message arrived in my inbox inviting me to check out Artscape’s newest venture,  ArtscapeDIYFind out about Artscape’s new online source for tools and resources, Artscape DIY. Learn more about  Artscape and its history as well as programs and services offered through Artscape’s Knowledge Exchange Program. 

For anyone interested or involved in creative placemaking – this is your website. You must go check it out.



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