I’m in Gateshead and I can hear music. No, I haven’t gone doolally, though you might well wonder. The second work placement I’ve chosen to do for the Clore leadership programme is at Sage Gateshead (which was previously known as ‘The Sage Gateshead’, but is currently undergoing a brand refresh).
All kinds of music are happening here: classical, jazz, folk, rock, world, big band, soul and blues, to name a few. A highlight for me was Fiddlers Two By Two, one of the concerts in the recent Fiddles on Fire festival. A brilliant and spontaneous medley of music led by Kathryn Tickell, it featured surprising combinations of artists from different countries and traditions.
The best workplace perk I’ve ever come across is the ability to pop into the public viewing gallery in Hall One (the bigger of the two concert halls) and listen to rehearsals. And it’s been a delight to catch Northern Sinfonia as often as I have, whether in rehearsal or in performance.
It seems apt that I’m at a musical venue, because in many ways the Clore programme is about listening. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on a huge variety of meetings and conversations, both here and on my previous placement at Battersea Arts Centre, and that has given me a sense of what the two organisations are doing, and how and why they are doing it.
I’m learning about things I knew little or nothing about before, from artistic programming to ticket sales, and from London’s fringe theatre scene to the cultural infrastructure of the north east of England. In both places I’ve encountered the excitement and the risks of putting on a live show – something I’ve not been exposed to at all in my job at The National Archives, of course.
Listening plays a large part in a course I’m taking (along with several other Clore fellows) called Relational Dynamics. The course covers elements of leadership and personal awareness, but is mainly focused on coaching, and provides the opportunity of gaining a coaching accreditation. The concept of ‘active listening’ is key to the coaching experience: it’s a way of enabling the coachee (horrible word!) to explore his or her thoughts, articulate positive goals and make decisions.