Primarily relief, if I’m honest. The last Arts Council grant for the project finished in March and we were in a no-mans land. It was taking up time and energy that needed to be directed elsewhere but we couldn’t quite let go. We didn’t want to stop to early if a further grant was on the way (it had been funded through managed funds), yet we couldn’t afford to keep going indefinitely under our own steam. The relief is around being able to let it go, to accept that it’s not going to rise phoenix-like. It’s time for other things.
There is also pride. It was a fantastic project – ambitious, sweeping in scale and transformational in delivery. We are archiving the work – it was a leadership project called Sync, which has content from people as diverse as Michael Lynch (former CEO of Southbank) and to Baroness Lockwood, first chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission through to Jenny Sealey who co-directed the Paralympic opening ceremony. The website will still be available with masses of useful resources, and we are also keeping the introduction in 21 easy steps available for a little while yet, so people can get an overview of the content easily.
I feel proud as it was one of the first projects with which I really took a risk, where I stepped away from safe territory into something more unknown. It’s kind of been the model for the ways in which I’ve worked since.
I do feel a tweak of sadness – my identity was very fused with this project for a number of years, and the relationships I had within it were some of the strongest and most enduring of my working life. I’ll miss them.
I also feel a tiny smattering of guilt – if I’d have tried harder, advocated better, made the case more profoundly, would we still be going? Could more people have gained the support, challenge and transformation that the project offered?
This is a hard one to square. I am satisfied with the project going now, it did great things. I wonder if it had continued would it have calcified, or at least stagnated? Could it have kept on hitting the targets in the way that it did? I think, in an ideal world I would have liked one more iteration. One element of Sync was called Sync Intensives – a selection of ten or so individuals that met together, and undertook activities apart, over a 6 month period. It resulted in some amazing achievements – including a series of images from Bobby Baker – her 7,000,000 steps to leadership. It felt that we had just got the balance for that element of the programme perfect – and I would have liked to have rolled that out for just one more year.
I’ve bought some of the images off Bobby to mark the end of the programme for myself (and also because I think they are brilliant). They’re going up on my wall soon, just got to get them framed. I like the idea that I’ll be able to have something up there to remind me of the work and the achievement. It’s a bit like having photos of the kids up – they remind me of what I’ve done and how things have changed.
So – here’s to letting go – a moment to mark this and then moving on. Way of the world, isn’t it?