23 March 2016

Walk the Plank staff conference

Working as we do in different locations with an ever changing cast of creative practitioners means that we don’t always get together as much as we should. So our 2016 staff conference at No 5 Bridge Mill, in Ancoats, Manchester, was not only a fantastic day out but a chance for a wide range of people in the extended Walk the Plank family to reflect on recent work and look forward to an exciting future – and explore some of the challenges we’re likely to face along the way.

Facilitating the day, and keeping a highly energetic team under control was Lisa Baxter, one of our board members, who kept a very tight programme of sessions on schedule.

The challenge with an event like this is to make sure that everyone feels that it’s a day away from the office well spent and reaps rewards in terms of making people feel informed, listen to and inspired.

Nearly 50 people rocked up for the day, which included an opportunity for each Walk the Plank team to present to the rest of the group the work it does by way of a stand up presentation, without recourse to Powerpoint. True to form, no one missed the opportunity to get in touch with their theatrical side to present some highly entertaining interpretations of their day to day challenges, many of which drew on ‘recipe for success’ analogies. It seems Walk the Plank is littered with wannabee TV chef presenters.

Levity aside, the day provided some great opportunities for creative thinking, particularly around challenging the habitual mind sets that we are all prone to default to in approaches to new work, resolving problems or identifying new areas of business.

We were also really chuffed to have Michael Trainor of LeftCoast who gave us a really insightful overview of the progressive arts scene in Blackpool, and the historical context of this incredible Lancashire town whose cultural heritage (and concomitant epic architecture) has in recent years been overshadowed by its decline as a tourist destination. Stand by, however, for a major resurgence with some ambitious outdoors arts spectacles in 2017.

Liz and John, our co-founders, did a brilliant job thanking so many different people for their work on a tireless portfolio of work over the past few years, and shared with everyone a very healthy pipeline of gigs and projects, both in the UK and abroad.

In 2017, with our move to a multi purpose outdoor art centre in Salford, staging conferences like these will be much easier – and more frequent, and give the chance for more people to see inside our new home.