International cultural organisation trials action learning

Bringing together eight partner organisations from Spain, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Belgium and the UK a new international programme called ADESTE aims to research, develop and define models of audience development in cultural organisations around the world.  Ruth Cook, ALA Managing Director and I have been working with participants on the pilot training programme since April – initially training them as action learning facilitators and now providing virtual support and accreditation.

While ADESTE’s focus is on bringing together knowledge, vision and good practices in relation to audience development, an underlying focus of the programme is to improve quality and accessibility of training in the cultural sector across Europe.

After initial gatherings in Turin and Lecce, participants came together in London for an intense week at Goldsmiths College undertaking The Audience Agency training module on audience development. ALA then delivered face to face action learning facilitator training for 12 cultural leaders to help develop their listening and reflective practice skills. They continue to meet as a peer network using virtual action learning.

Whilst the programme is still on-going it was fascinating to see the variety of themes participants brought to the initial training set. Working cross culturally, whilst raising the occasional challenges such as language, always demonstrates such rich material because participants are able to gain insights into how different countries and cultures interpret perennial issues often present in cultural organisations.

Now back at home participants are running their own action learning sets and giving access to a training methodology that is little known in many of their countries. With follow on support from their ALA trainer, they continue to meet as a peer network using virtual action learning.

Many of their action learning sets have been oversubscribed which shows that, across Europe, action learning and the need for leaders to come together to address and share approaches to audience development is a much-needed intervention.

The ADESTE pilot training programme completes in April 2016 and there is a possibility the training may be rolled out further from mid 2016 onwards.

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