Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Art Relevant to Business?
Art is relevant to business in a number of ways.
- Art is a creative activity. Where businesses engage in creativity they are also being artistic – for example, in product design, or problem solving. Sometimes businesses get so used to “keeping the show on the road”, they lose their creative ability. This can be addressed through a dose of “artistic” input – a workshop or by bringing into the workplace some art to bring a little inspiration or fire the imagination – some paintings or sculpture.
- Many skills that artists use are relevant and transferable to businesses. For example, the skills performance are relevant to presentation skills. Or the skills of improvisation are relevant to problem solving. Or the skills of the visual arts can aid the development of design skills.
- Art can be used to portray and help analyse business questions and problems. For example the technique of a “rich picture” can help depict an organisation’s strategy in a very visual way. Or a role play using drama can help people to try out new behaviours or solve problems in the relative safety of a training room – people can experiment.
Why is art relevant to public or voluntary sector organisations?
As with business, art is relevant to organisational life in whatever sector. It can inspire, stimulate, challenge, offer transferable skills, foster creativity.
What is arts-based training?
Arts based training is training that makes use of artistic processes to enable more effective learning and development than can be achieved using more traditional training methods. The trainer is often a practicing artist who has extended their work a little by using it to help business people learn. For example, a poet using creative writing to stimulate creative thinking. An actor who teaches voice skills to managers wanting to make better presentations or be more assertive. It is often delivered through courses and workshops, very much in the vein of a training course but with exercises and activities drawn from the artistic world.
What is arts-based development and change?
Arts-based development and change helps businesses and organisations develop strategies, visions, deal with issues and solve problems at a personal, group or organisational level. It may make use of arts-based training methods because sometimes you have to “learn your way out of problems”. Sometimes it is more faciltative in style. For example, using sculpture to model an organisation, its present state, problems and desired future state. Or the use of drama to play out scenes from work and experiment in “roles” to try out new behaviours. Or the use of pictures to imagine future strategies and corporate visions.
What makes arts-based training different?
Arts-based training is rarely “talk and chalk”. It is very hands-on and participative. It is often experienced by participants as memorable and has an impact on them. Sometimes it takes them into their zone of discomfort because it often explores “under the skin” of both individuals and organisations. It reaches into people’s emotions as well as their thoughts. Art- based training can often surface critical issues and enable an authentic exploration
How do arts-based trainers and developers work?
Arts-based trainers and developers will often do a lot of research before an event. They will be keen to ensure the training is useful and real for the client organisation. Off-the-shelf arts based training, like any training is only good if it is well delivered and is really what the organisation wants. For example, theatre skills for presentations. Often, it is better to do the research and look for trainers and developers who are prepared to be flexible and tailor their processes to real issues and questions in the client organisation. Sometimes arts-based trainers will also work with non arts-based facilitators to combine leading edge facilitation with excellent artistic work. Sometimes an arts-based trainer is also the facilitator.
What can go wrong?
Some artist trainers and developers are well intentioned but simply do not have the skills to facilitate learning or change. The event loses its way or doesn’t deliver. Sometimes not enough research is done and the training feels too “off the shelf” and misses the target. Sometimes the opposite happens – so much research is done that the event gets bogged down in specifics and the inspirational quality is lost. People then find it hard to apply the learning back at work beyond the specifics.
Where there is pressure on cost, the training can be delivered as a “one hit wonder” and impetus is soon lost back at work. Like all good training, arts-based training works much better where there is proper follow-up. For example, two workshops with time in between to practice new skills or implement agreed actions and changes back at work. The training and development often fails when there are no tangible agreed action plans or personal commitments.
Are arts-based trainers certificated or qualified?
There is no official qualification to be an Arts-based trainer. Artists may well be qualified in their field. For example they may have a degree in Drama or teaching. They may also have training qualifications or be members of professional bodies such as the Institute of Personnel Development (IPD). Look for references and accolades, and where possible look for recommendations from organisations such as Arts and Business who may have seen the artists in action or have evidence they have completed the Arts and Business Train the Trainer Programme.
Many arts-based trainers are NOT qualified nor have they any references. Many people are jumping on the bandwagon and it is well to do proper vetting and research, as with any training or development providers.
What kind of training is Arts-Based Training most suitable for?
There aren’t really any clearly defined limits for arts-based training. Each art form works well in different settings. Visual art is good for imagination and stimulating creative thinking – developing strategic thinking, business visions, exploring relationships, product and service design. Performing arts focus well on the transferable skills of performance into the communication and presentation skills in the work place. They are also particularly relevant to relationships, team working, conflict and communication. The process of creating excellent art and “Performance” is also ideal for exploring the concept of performance at work. Art can help bring new perspectives on problem solving and art forms such as poetry and sculpture can help model and depict problems and situations.
Overall the creative work involved in artistic work can be a stimulus to creativity in a business or organisation. It can help to unblock thoughts and feelings, and provide inspiration and motivation.
What kind of training is Arts-Based training least suitable for?
It is harder to use arts-based methods in very specific technical training. This would have to be designed very carefully – for example drama or dance could be used to improve manual dexterity. Learning the piano can improve keyboarding skills (and vice versa!). Arts-based training isn’t suitable for off-the-shelf “cheap and cheerful”, “sheep dip” training. It tends to be more resource intensive and is best when there is time for research and customising.
What is the difference between a course and a workshop?
These terms are often used inter-changeably and this causes confusion! Try this definition. A course has the development of knew professional knowledge, skill or competence as its primary aim.
A secondary benefit may be that real work problems can be addressed through the course. (Of course problems may well be solved AFTER the course if the training has been impactful).
A workshop has the addressing of business and organisational issues as its main focus. The development of new skills, competences and professional knowledge are a secondary outcome, though they might take more prominence if new learning is vital to addressing the issues at hand.
Arts-based training tends to be very interactive. There is usually a lot of practice. Arts-based workshops use artistic methods and process also in an interactive way to help an organisation move forward on an issue or a problem or a question.
How do I get started?
As with any effective training, knowing your training needs is a good starting point. You might know them already. You might have a very clear idea about what you want a course or a workshop to cover. You might need to conduct a Training Needs Analysis (This is a research exercise, sometimes done with outside help, where your training needs as a group or organisation are clearly identified). What do you want to become better at? What do you want to know more about? In terms of Arts-Based development – what is the problem that needs to be addressed? What question(s) do you wish the workshop(s) to address? What problem needs to be solved?
An initial conversation with a training or development provider might be a good starting point. Or you might initially go to a “taster” session, such as those sometimes organised by Arts and Business (www.AandB.org.uk). Chat to someone from an organisation that has already successfully used Arts Based Training or Development.
How do I go about finding an Arts-Based Trainer or Developer?
Arts and Business are a good starting point (www.AandB.org.uk). On their web site you can find who has won awards, read case studies and find out who uses Arts-Based Training or Development. The Internet is filled with names of providers and a search on a search engine will find you many web sites of businesses offering services.
Who are Arts and Business?
From their web-site (www.AandB.org.uk)
“A&B is the world’s most successful & widespread creative network. We help business people support the arts & the arts inspire business people, because good business & great art together create a richer society.
“Our purpose is to enable business and its people to be more successful by engaging with the arts and to increase resources for the arts from business and its people.”
What is New Partners and how can it make arts-based training more affordable?
From the Arts and Business (www.AandB.org.uk) website:
“Arts & Business can help businesses to maximise the benefits of their relationship with an arts organisation through our investment programme, New Partners. Now in its 4th year, New Partners is designed to develop and encourage mutually beneficial partnerships between business and the arts. Our case studies show how businesses have successfully added value to employee development programmes, raised their profiles amongst key audiences, positively impacted on the communities they serve and demonstrated key brand values to internal and external audiences through an enhanced partnership supported by a New Partners investment.”
It works by match funding the costs of a piece of art delivered in a business. Where the arts-based training can show its “audience” to be a specific business. New Partners may be a way to make the work more affordable. New Partners is a way for the artist and the business to benefit from an input of “match funding” to enable the process to happen. New Partners has also funded public sector projects.
How is Arts-Based training and development evaluated?
Arts-based training should be evaluated in the same spirit all training or development. Having clearly defined goals before and assessing impact afterwards is key. Look for tangible examples of how the workshop actions (agreed at the workshop) have been implemented, perhaps with sign-off from those who committed. Look for examples of use of the training in practice back at work (questionnaires, focus groups). You may wish to build in the cost of independent evaluation. A key principle of good evaluation is to set up key “evaluation points” that capture before, during and after data. What do we want to get out of it? How is it going so far? How did it go? This can allow real-time change and improvement, especially where more than one event is involved.
Where can I find some good real life examples?
Good arts-based trainers and developers provide references and case examples. Arts and Business (www.AandB.org.uk) also offer case examples and give awards for the more successful projects.
Theatre-based training and development
Frequently asked Questions
What is theatre-based training?
Theatre based training falls into two main categories. The first is Skill Development, often focused on communication and presentation skills, but also more recently on Leadership Skills. The skills of performance – being a good speaker, being confident, being a good communicator are all skills that excellent actors and performers need. These then are transferable into a business or organisational context. Learning how to voice project, to be a good improviser, to be a good listener, a team player, are just some examples. The use of Role Play allows participants to step into different roles, experiment with new behaviours and practice new skills in a safe learning environment.
What is theatre based development?
Theatre-based development combined a mixture of change management, consultancy, facilitation and the use of theatre methods such as role play and forum theatre to help an organisation to realise a goal, address an issue, solve problems, move a change programme forward. It’s an interactive approach that is in the spirit of “All the world’s a stage”. In forum theatre participants can interact with characters and watch and co-create scenes which “play out” issues related to the business challenges identified. Role Play allows participants to step into roles to explore different attitudes and behaviours, to experiment and to explore different scenarios. Sometimes arts-based developers use direct performance combined with reflection and discussion to inspire thinking about change and development..
What is role play?
Role Play allows participants to step into roles to explore different attitudes and behaviours, to experiment and to explore different scenarios. Sometimes arts-based developers use direct performance combined with reflection and discussion to inspire thinking about change and development. It can be used in different learning and development situations to allow new behaviours and skills to be tried out. It is participative and interactive. Role Play can be done clumsily and you should take care to find a well referenced provider. It is something dreaded by some people who fear being dragged onto the stage! Not all role play requires everyone to take part. It can be done in smaller groups and need not put people into the uncomfortable position of “performing” in front of everyone.
Some good definitions and tips can be found here: http://www.businessballs.com/roleplayinggames.htm
Why do some people hate even the mention of the term “role play”?
Many people, often going back to a bad experience at school, fear the “dreaded role play. Also some trainees cite bad, embarrassing experiences with it. A lot of companies offer role play as part of training who are not really arts-based trainers. It grew out of theatre in schools and social organisations as well as customer care training. Role play can be done skilfully and need not be traumatic or “cringeworthy”. Do your homework on the providers and look for good references. Ideally attend a taster session first.
Some people also hate role play because it is so effective. Effective training may take people into their zone of discomfort. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to go two forwards later on!
What are the pitfalls of theatre-based training and development?
Theatre based training and development can have an initial powerful impact. However, if the experience of participants is such that they cannot see how to transpose their learning back to the workplace, it will not last beyond the final goodbyes of the workshop! Theatre-based training and development works best when linked to follow-up and real issues at work. That doesn’t have to mean that the “scenes and plays” are all work-related. It does mean that the process of facilitation should be skilful enough to ensure the theatre can be grounded in the reality of working life.
Theatre-based training is often expensive, with the added costs of research, writing, directing and actors fees. However, if linked to real change needs in the organisation, it can be very beneficial.
How do I find a good theatre-based trainer or developer?
Arts and Business (www.AandB.org.uk) lists trainers who have received awards and has case studies on their web site. Look for references and ideally attend a taster session. Look for companies who are not seeing you as just another client to deliver something off the shelf to. Look for those interested in tailoring their work to your organisation’s needs.
What is Forum Theatre?
“Forum Theatre is an interactive method that utilises a piece of theatre written specifically for and about your business. It is performed by actors and presented by a facilitator who then encourages the audience to suggest changes, discuss possibilities, influence outcomes, and even take complete control by entering the scenes.
By engaging directly with the audience on a personal level, Forum Theatre stimulates participants to become truly involved in finding and rehearsing solutions to problems. Each Forum Theatre project is created individually to a brief, and designed to address a specific problem or issue. It is created in close collaboration with the commissioning company, and evaluated against agreed performance indicators.”
A basic definition from a training provider here: http://www.forumtheatre.com/EffectiveTraining.asp
A case study here: http://www.forumtheatre.com/rac.asp
There are also interesting descriptions of different types of forum theatre here:
How is theatre-based training or development evaluated?
Theatre-based training should be evaluated in the same spirit all training or development.
Having clearly defined goals before and assessing impact afterwards is key. Look for tangible examples of how the workshop actions (agreed at the workshop) have been implemented, perhaps with sign-off from those who committed.
Look for examples of use of the training in practice back at work (questionnaires, focus groups). You may wish to build in the cost of independent evaluation. A key principle of good evaluation is to set up key “evaluation points” that capture before, during and after data. What do we want to get out of it? How is it going so far? How did it go? This can allow real-time change and improvement, especially where more than one event is involved.
Theatre-based training can also be evaluated in terms of how memorable it is. In one company, several of the characters from the short scenes about poor communication were quoted in meetings back at work as examples of how NOT to behave> “I think you are being a bit of a Martin here – do you remember how closed-minded HE was?”!!!
Where can I find some good real life examples?
Good theatre-based trainers and developers provide references and case examples. Arts and Business (www.AandB.org.uk) also offer case examples and give awards for the more successful projects.
Who are your clients for theatre-based training and development?
Organisations and businesses from all sectors and of all sizes have made successful use of theatre-based training and development. Our own clients include Legal and General, Allied Domecq and Eurotunnel as well as smaller businesses such as Ashdown Hurrey (Accountants) and B & W Loudspeakers.
Public sector organisations such as the NHS and Brighton and Hove City Council are also among our clients for theatre-based training and development.
Do you ever just put on plays in business?
Yes. An emerging form of art-in-business is the use of theatre performance in business. The aim is to entertain, educate and to stimulate debate and change. Some plays are very directly related to business themes, whilst others are more traditional such as a Shakespeare play, though even a play such as Macbeth can be related to Leadership! Plays can be performed in order to stimulate debate, allow reflection on working life, to support a conference or workshop theme. For example, Re-Inventing the Cheese is a play all about work.