In the past, I’ve worked with numerous organisations and artists to address climate change and was Project Director at Cape Farewell for a time. Cape Farewell takes artists on a physical journey (often to the Arctic) to learn about the impacts of Climate Change. Through this journey and immersion in the subject, artists come to care about environmental change and so to act.
With Advance, we aim to take participating organisations on a journey (albeit it a less physically active one) which begins with immersion – in the subject of gender equality – moves through to understanding, which engenders a sense of care, and leads on to action.
Organisations’ journeys are experienced in a personal way – organisations of course are populated by people (!) and Lucy and I take a collegial approach. We’ve each worked for some time in theatre and the performing arts, know and have navigated the landscape in various ways. So, we’ve tried to work in a straightforward and personal manner, asking participants exactly what they want to explore with us over six months, leading them through a research process, working through and making sense of findings together, then beginning to identify how to translate understanding into organisational action, embedded in structures, systems and planning.
There’s an interesting moment in the journey where we take a step back – at that point when understanding needs translation into action – where we don’t have the answers, but organisations have the power to come up with them. It’s where the magic happens actually. Each organisation will come up with something different – a set of different responses will emerge and the sum of these, and the impact of these is where cultural shift begins to take place.
The process we take organisations through could be flagged as:
Analyse, Think, Change
Statistics play a part in our research and are important, but the qualitative outputs and the understanding of these – of nuance – is where the real power lies. So much of the Advance research is about understanding women’s lived experience better, to enable organisations to see with greater clarity, so that they really feel the need for change, so we might instead describe the process as one of:
See, Feel, Change
I like the word ‘feel’ in there, because it brings me back to the idea of care. If one feels, one tends to care, and if others sense you care, well, they’re more likely to come along with you…
+ Tonic’s Lucy Kerbel and Vicky Long reflect on Advance 2016