If doctors are clearly “professionals” whereas mechanics are designated as “labourers” then why, and what is it, that places artists, along with chefs and teachers, into a grey area?
As artists, are we not the craft persons of a trade that we deliver professionally? I believed this to be so when I embarked to attend the conference “Unlocking Skills for a New Life” (USNL) My place was funded by Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme.
I have been working in the arts a very long time. I started my career in the arts with no formal training and have had little opportunity or finance to access Continual Professional Development.
None of this has stopped me from wanting to expand my skills from that of a poet to a workshop facilitator across different communities. I have developed from leading a basic poetry workshop in prison to coordinating long term artists’ residencies in all categories of secure accommodation.
I believe that I have served my apprenticeship and develop a craft that is my trade, to a professional level.
The conference was to reveal that what I was failing to record was the impact of my work and that of other artists on the inmates we make contact with. Of course each prison-based project was always fully evaluated but NBAA does not have (although it will have in the future) any measure of the personal development of the men.
These monitors that might seem simple to a “public” observer can make a major positive contribution to the overall assessment of an inmate’s ability to re-join society, manage living alone, find employment or take up further education.
The difference between a workshop and a lesson is that the former requires each participant to be able to work alone and in a team. Being part of a team means they have to be able to communicate clearly in order to achieve the identified tasks. Where previously I would have measured achievement solely on the completion of a set task, USNL gave me practical monitors of measure, such as communication development, confidence and reliability, amongst many others.
USNL showed the value of finding a common ground in which to share aspirations and values; to enable the focus to be on commonality, not difference; how team work brings a disparate group together so that they share commitment and how that brings out a personal sense of social responsibility.
I am pleased to achieve an endorsement of my time with USNL.
Further to the training I was asked to address the Personal Effectiveness and Employability through the Arts conference as a panel speaker. On behalf of each NBAA member I accept the following feedback with much humility:
During the PEETA conference in Rotterdam, SuAndi injected a poetic moment in the panel discussion on what it means to work in a prison. The moving poem about experiencing prison life brought artistic inspiration in a conversation about functionality. So did the strong examples she gave of performances with prisoners she realised. She is not afraid of sharing personal and humorous anecdotes in order to explain her passion for the artistic work in prison. Erica Kubic October 2012
“Suandi’s inspiring contribution on Saturday gave me arguments in future discussions with policymakers at the Dutch Ministry of Justice” Ed Santman, National coordinator Prison Arts Education, the Netherlands.
Superact CIC http://www.superact.org.uk/
SuAndi’s attendance was grant aided by Grundtvig UK National Agency www.grundtvig.org.uk