The International Exchange Placement pilot programme, with support from the Cultural Leadership Programme (CLP) was run throughout 2009. It provided UK organisations with a three-month international exchange, followed by a three-month hosting period, with a focus on intercultural understanding, international leadership competencies and the art of intercultural hosting.
Organisations who took part in the programme were:
- Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design with P3 art & environment/Beppu Project (Japan);
- Jack Drum Arts with Listen Up! (USA);
- Liverpool Biennial with Shanghai University College of Fine Art (China).
In September 2009 all six exchange recipients were in the UK, and a sharing event was organised on their behalf, at the Bluecoat Liverpool on September 28 2009. The event provided a platform to share their experience and reactions to taking part in the programme.
Presentations were made by:
- Keith Whittle, Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design
- Akio Hayashi, Beppu Project
- Helen Ward, Jack Drum Arts
- Edwin Clavijo, Listen Up!
- Raj Sandhu, Liverpool Biennial
- Lingmin, University of Shanghai College of Fine Art
A number of common threads of experience during the exchange reappeared in each presentation:
- The sense of freedom/time to explore new ideas
- Disparities between expectations and reality
- Self knowledge re-enforced
- Discovering new tools for the future/encountering different ways of working
- Increased confidence
- Sometimes feeling ‘out of control’ and how this made them question their practice at home
- Increased knowledge and understanding of their different host organisations & countries
Maureen Salmon, Director of Freshwaters Consultancy, who manages the Powerbrokers International Leadership Placement programme with support from CLP, was present for the sharing and brought out the commonalities with her associate’s experiences, which were:
- Reality versus picture imagined – reinforcing that the experience is not a stage show – it’s real!
- Status of placement and importance of labels in how you are accepted in your host organisation
- Confidence and ownership of legacy
- Relationships – old & new – often international relationships can have closer links.
Raj Sandhu of Liverpool Biennial concisely summed up her experience as “challenging, frustrating, exciting, wonderful”.