From theatre skills to youth circus
action learning making impact on Australian cultural sector

A symposium on youth circus – an innovative use of action learning in Australia
Photo courtesy of ACAPTA and Westside Circus Australia – acapta.org.au

Action learning is making huge inroads into the cultural sector in Australia and ALA is delighted to be at the forefront of the expansion working with the Australian Council for the Arts, British Council Australia, Deakin University and the Social School for Entrepreneurs.

On a recent visit Director, Ruth Cook, and Senior Associate, Katie Venner, delivered an action learning facilitator training programme for women creatives and cultural leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. Sponsored by the Australia Council for the Arts, the programme aims to promote cultural diversity in the theatrical sector, offer leadership development to women (especially younger women) and create opportunities for women playwrights and directors to work together with a focus on their development needs. The established peer networks are now being supported from the UK through virtual action learning sessions facilitated by Katie Venner and Ruth Cook. Some participants who have also chosen to be accredited will do so via a virtual accreditation process.

Following the course over 80% of the participants agreed that the facilitator training programme had a significant impact on their lives and all agreed it had provided them with a fresh approach to problem solving:

“provided me with a great approach to problem solving and strengthened my conflict resolution techniques”

“as an artist I have many tools for unleashing emotion and rallying passion – action learning leaves me considering ways to support and teach listening and quiet objectivity – enabling a group to quietly create space for questions and solutions to be revealed”

“I learnt about the power of the witness in the task of creative problem solving”

Their plans to use action learning in the Australian cultural sector are many and varied including forming a peer support group amongst female theatre artists, setting up sets for arts groups in a local community theatre to using action learning as part of a youth circus symposium.

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