Sunday, July 29, 2007


On the brink of the summer break, Denise the Director brought together her contractors and assorted staff. I was prone to wonder, would anything of this collective annual review – featuring 12 individual minds - light my fire:

Denise: …We’ve done a lot over the past couple of years – nationally, as you are aware, we are highly regarded. In terms of school change, we’ve encouraged and supported a lot of teachers and head-teachers to be a bit more risk-taking. Many have embraced this challenge, whilst others… have struggled.
Colleague #1: It’s a bit difficult when the language of this sort of thing – ‘risk-taking’, or ‘change’ – is so woolly -
Colleague #2: We just have to keep on at the stragglers, or strugglers - nothing stands still.
Colleague #3: They all know that nothing stands still. That’s why this talk of ‘change’ will always fall on some deaf ears – it’s like trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs.
Shane: (pause) I wonder why anyone’s grandmother would suck eggs.
Denise: Mm, all fair points – egg-sucking grandmothers aside. No, after the summer, I would like us to shift our focus. (pause) Along with the schools, we’ve all worked with many different artists and organisations - cultural shakers and cultural movers, if you will – many of you yourselves, in fact. I would like us to shift our talk of risk-taking more towards this group of people – to ourselves, even. For the next phase of our work, I would like us to think more in terms of ‘cultural risk-taking’.
Colleague #1: (blank expression)
Colleague #2: (doodling)
Colleague #3: Hmmm.
Shane: (pause) I agree, hmmm.

Since that meeting, I asked two artist colleagues – one a musician, one a theatre director - how they would interpret ‘cultural risk-taking’. The first response, and its echo, was along the lines of ‘Just basically doing stuff that is out my comfort zone - that’s a bit new, that stretches me, that makes me develop how I work’. Fair responses, but I want more. Thus, I find myself pondering ‘When have I borne witness to cultural risk-taking?’ ‘How did I know that it was cultural risk-taking?’ ‘What did it look like?' and 'What did it feel like?’

Though a fire has yet to be lit, there is a spark in the mid-distance.


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

So is that why you've written a blog post with intriguing links that lead only to 'page not found' error messages? Is this an example of you trying out some cultural risk-taking?

Shane said...

No and no - that would be cultural bumbling. I've tweaked the nozzle and they should work now. Go easy with them at first - they might be fixed, but they're probably not up to being read like they're 'intriguing' just yet.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Anything that makes one think has to be valuable. Maybe. Sort of. In general.

On the other hand, pissed if I know any bit about culture. I would risk that you do, though.

having my cake said...

Cultural risk taking? Is that like challenging social taboos? Showing your bottom in public or something? Doesnt sound like the sort of thing guaranteed to get you a raise... well not in salary anyway lmao