standing for chair of the sba

At the last SBA steering meeting quite a lot of people announced that they would step down, at least for the next year, from the SBA steering group. This leaves a vacuum that feels quite ominous, and there were suggestions that unless key positions were filled at the AGM, maybe the trail next year should or could not go ahead. At that meeting I proposed that I stand for vice-chair, and suggestions were made that it was not ambitious enough. I have therefore thought long and hard about this and have decided that I would like to run for chair of the SBA at the AGM. My credentials? Well, apart from running the SBA website team for the last two (wow, nearly three) years and attending every steering group meeting in that time, I have been involved in managing large to medium scale projects for about fifteen years at UWE. This has, of course, been in the IT field, but my background is as a graphic designer, where I was involved in several large projects. As an artist I have also been keen to evolve my own work, which has resulted in some medium term projects. So I’ve got a lot of experience of how to get from point A to point B and what it takes resource wise to get there.

So, some of my thoughts as we look forward are as follows: It is possible to hold an Arts Trail in May 2008. We have the skills and experience to do so, if we concentrate on the essentials. The essential part is the Art Trail itself, and all of the major elements are well known and describable (is that a word?) on a timeline. This then allows us to work backwards with a set of goals and targets that we will need to meet to achieve our aim of delivering a trail in May 2008. The key milestones are well understood, and most could be achieved without regular meetings if there was a reliable reporting mechanism from the people doing the work to the steering committee. Although this is possible, I do think we need the monthly meetings to keep continuity.

So to pick up on some of the themes discussed at the last meeting, and some that have surfaced since, my proposed goals for the SBA for the next year to 18 months would be:

  • Hold an Arts Trail in May 2008 (100% do-able)
  • Expand links with other organisations in the South Bristol Area e.g.
    • St. John’s Churchyard (via scda)
    • Former Ashton Court Festival organisation (they are interested in organising some performance events)
  • Investigate expansion into other areas of South Bristol or become a charity or similar to evolve the organisation. Dave Morgan-Davies has volunteered to act as “consultant” to look into the viability of this. Sarah Gibby has expressed an intent to stand as vice chair, and is keen to explore the viability of morphing the SBA into a charitable organisation (at present it is a voluntary non-profit organisation).
    • As a sub project, possibly drop the “bank” from Southbank to become South Bristol Arts.

I am keen to move the SBA towards a greater role in South Bristol, particularly with the expansion of new housing in the area to the south of where we now operate. I think it is a great opportunity to reach out and bring the arts to an area that previously would not have access to it. With our newly identified brands (Arts Trail and SBA) we should be able to make a distinction between the roles that each can play in this expansion. As part of the drive to make things more professional, I am proposing that we take a more project driven approach to the Arts Trail, and whilst I don’t want to frighten people off, I do think there is scope for improvement in our ability to deliver. Last year there was a lot of duplication of effort, and I think if we can reduce this even just a bit, we will make the experience a lot nicer for our organising members. It is important that we do not lose the “fun” element of organising the trail!

I think that with many people stepping down, and with new people stepping up this year, we need to keep it simple and concentrate on our core strengths, otherwise we might get bogged down trying to re-create the existing structures. We already know what we want to achieve, have done it before, and I believe that we have the skills to do it again next year. Here’s to a successful Arts Trail in May 2008!

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