Meeting the challenge

Meeting the Challenge

an evaluation

by Simone Jaeger, Eleanor Ford and Cassie Robinson

Meeting the Challenge was launched in June 2008 by the Cultural Leadership Programme with an ambition to embed leadership development within arts organisations and by extension, in the wider cultural and creative sectors.  The programme was informed by CLP’s 10 Key Priorities - areas that needed to be addressed and developed going forwards - and in order for these to be tackled effectively and have sustained impact, it was necessary that any new intervention should be taken up sector-wide and feel ‘owned’ by the participants.  For this reason, the MtC programme offered a model by which leadership training was embedded within organisations, and designed and delivered through collaborative partnerships with a fundamentally ‘networked’ dynamic at its heart.

The bespoke programmes supported through MtC offered a variety of leadership development opportunities, including peer-to-peer support, mentoring, coaching, training courses and networking events. The 3 year programme, divided into 4 cohorts, supported 22 partnerships, made up of 124 organisations of varying size, located across the country. Drawing on interview, surveys and case studies, this evaluation looks at the interplay of the three key elements of the MtC programme: Partnerships; Organisations; and Individual Participants. Taking the initial 10 Key Priorities, and the 5 MtC Project Aims, as the starting point for assessment, it attempts to communicate the impact and legacy of the programme, at the levels of the individual, the organisation, and the broader sector as a whole.  

Not unsurprisingly, given such an ambitious programme, common challenges included time pressure, consistency of roles, aligning expectations and the sometimes differing needs and/or approaches of partners.  However, significant benefits and practical gains were surfaced from across the partnerships, including better internal and external communication; improved teamwork; stronger organisational resilience; clearer understandings of vision and mission; and an increased level of ‘entrepreneurialism.’  The research evidences that both individual participants and partnership organisations saw enormous value in MtC and the legacy of its leadership development training will be felt and sustained into the future by the more resilient, networked, confident and skilled leaders that the programme has supported.

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