GLF 2016 participant Lana Haigh reflects on the Governor’s Leadership Foundation Program Seminar 6: Leadership & the Arts; a component of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation (GLF) program. Throughout the year various 2016 GLF participants will contribute to a series of blog posts about their experiences and insights of the GLF program.
Session 10 – Leadership and the Arts started with a pre-session reflection inviting us to share a piece of art, reflecting on what it means to us and why we chose that piece.
I chose a Salvador Dali piece which I recalled thinking something like “wow people can think really differently to me” when I first saw his ‘Swans Reflecting Elephants’ and ‘Persistence of Memory’ pieces.
We were also encouraged to take part in the Arts on offer in our community in the month leading up to the session.
The trip down memory lane contemplating the arts and their influence had me realising that the arts play a far greater role in my life than I would have given credit to.
The pre-reflection was also a nice prompt to grab some friends and go and visit some of the art exhibitions and galleries, public art and see some movies as well as reflect on the great arts festivals the city hosts.
The importance of art to community was frequently raised in previous GLF sessions, including criminal and social justice, new Australians, leadership and Aboriginal issues as well as through the readings so I was very keen to hear the Arts sector take on this.
All “arted up” I made my way through the wintry weather to join fellow GLFers at the Art Gallery of South Australia, looking forward to catching up with everyone and hearing the perspectives of another great panel.
This session we were privileged to hear from;
- Tracy Vandepeer FGLF14 – Artist
- Lisa Slade – Assistant Director, Artistic Program, Art Gallery SA
- Annabelle Sheehan – CEO, SA Film Corporation
- Chris Drummond – Artistic Director, Brink Productions
- Sandy Verschoor – CEO, Adelaide Festival
As I had come to expect of the GLF sessions, the Leadership and the Arts panel each contributed interesting, thought provoking information covering a range of topics and opinions in their talks. I would not do them justice trying to summaries what they presented but I will pass on some of my personal “take-aways” or thoughts that have been circulating around my head ever since.
Tracy Vandepeer shared her personal journey with art and the trials, tribulations and joys in establishing a local gallery for local artist and the time it took for her to overcome her trepidation and exhibit her own work. Tracy shared quite an amusing example of how ones own perspective can change the way art is viewed. This raised for me a number of questions of which I still ponder. If someone through their own perspective interprets the art differently have you failed, or can you even fail in creating a piece of art? Is not creating art success and someone having a perspective a further success in that they have been engaged?
Lisa Slade told us of the plans and changes that have occurred in the Art Gallery of SA , the role it plays in exposing the patrons to the styles of art, the volume of art on display at any one time and the innovative ideas for a satellite gallery the Louvre Museum have trialed with great success. I was astounded by the typical figure that only around 2% of the art collection is on display at anyone time.
The marked increase in attendance rates the Art Gallery of SA have experienced over recent years is encouraging and I have personally experienced the increased exposure and engagement with a shift of focus to a place of encounter and experience for the audience.
Annabelle Sheehan talked of the role of film and the change in consumers of traditional programmed TV, to one facing the new landscape that is online and on-demand viewing. Some of the many interesting statistics and thoughts that have stuck with me include 1 in 5, 13-45 year olds ignore commercial TV, the changing landscape in the competition for eyeballs and the globalisation of the industry in both production of film and uptake of viewers, employment figures of the industry and its contribution to the economy.
Chris Drummond shared with us an overview of his career and then presented his argument for art.
Some of my notes I’ll share included;
- Writing about music was like dancing to architecture.
- Art is a vehicle that creates intimacy with strangers, can evoke empathy and common humanity.
- Great art invites you on a journey but doesn’t tell you where to go.
Sandy Verschoor spoke of her new appointment as CEO of Adelaide Festival and the contributions the different festivals have make to Adelaide and South Australia.
A reflection I have regarding Sandy’s talk was in relation to government funding and how more often than not a conversation about the arts sector raises the topic of funding yet this is seldom the case for other government supported sectors such as the wine, mining and manufacturing.
The panel concluded with an hour question and answer session which gave many of us the opportunity to probe further or table our thoughts related to the topic.
Art Therapy Integration Session
I was definitely not prepared for the second part of the Arts session but I did achieve one of the GLF objectives in that I spent time outside my comfort zone!
After an introduction to the session and inviting us all to choose one of the art mediums on offer – drawing (pencil, crayon or pastel) or modelling with clay – I selected a box of pastels and sat poised nervously for instructions. We were then guided through creating 3 pieces of art reflecting different emotional states. I enjoyed the opportunity to attempt drawing; it had been many many years since I tried to draw something that didn’t involve measurements and a scale. My excitement for the opportunity to be creative slowly turned to frustration as it became evident that the picture in my head was not being transposed onto paper. I did inadvertently create an abstract drawing of a lions face and I quite liked the colors on my second picture, my increasing frustration was evident in my third piece with many straight lines and the use of stick figures.
I was a little nervous to share my drawings with my partner for the session, however I believed having the platform of our artwork prompted a far more meaningful conversation than if a straight question and answer session was carried out, demonstrating one of arts many beneficial uses.
The next activity involved physical expression and vocalising the quadrants. This concept was novel to me and I thought we were all very brave. I took a few moments in this session to stand on the balcony (and to take a few deep breaths). The variations in human behaviour always amaze me when observing a general group in various degrees outside their comfort zone. I don’t think I was alone in not being comfortable working in this area but it did raise my awareness of the lack of risk I usually take in expression through my physical being.
At the end of the day I was exhausted with a head full of new information, new thoughts, opinions in the incubation stage and a first hand understanding on how art can contribute to our community and selves in subtle and not so subtle ways reiterating messages I had taken from previous sessions the importance of art in a community and society.
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