Barbican Community Masterclass: Health and Wellbeing

When we were asked to develop a workshop about health and wellbeing in the arts as part of the Barbican’s Community Masterclass series, we couldn’t have been more pleased.

At The Change Collective we believe that we face challenges more effectively, connect more usefully with others and are more creative when we pay attention to, and take time to nurture our own health and wellbeing. Coming together as a collective to support each other, and to share the ways in which we address the stresses of our work is one of the key functions of The Change Collective for its members. For us, self-care is intrinsic to best practice, and it is an approach that we celebrate and share as widely as possible. So we were looking forward to sharing it with the Barbican’s community partners in Waltham Forest.

Our Community Masterclass was attended by a diverse range of individual artists, people running community led initiatives and representatives from small to medium sized creative businesses in east London. What united them all was a drive to work locally and creatively to engender the positive change they want to see in their community. The masterclass was designed to explore the emotional demands made on us when working in often chaotic settings, with stretched resources, and supporting people in challenging circumstances. In taking care of others in our community, what stresses do we encounter and take on ourselves, and how might we lessen the burden? At The Change Collective we create space for conversation. We offer nuggets of ideas and a structure within which those ideas can grow and flourish. We care most about who is in the room, why they have come and what they bring. We often take as much from our workshops as the participants, and this masterclass was no different. We learnt that work we do is challenging, and that in order to embrace those challenges we need to identify when and how we are affected by stress, and what things we can put in place to help us deal with the ups and downs of our work. We also remembered the power of togetherness; the very fact that we gathered to share our stresses, and also our coping strategies, served to nourish and rejuvenate us as individuals.

Between us we decided we needed to, amongst other things:

 Collaborate more.  Set clearer boundaries for ourselves.  Say no sometimes.  “Keep our hearts open.”[1]  Cooperate and not compete.

The masterclass helped us realise that maintaining health and wellbeing in the arts is about listening to ourselves and working with others to be the best that we can be.

We understood that it was vital work out your own Terms and Conditions, under which you are at your optimum, and work alongside people who respect and celebrate those terms. I am now looking forward to taking this learning back to The Change Collective HQ, and continuing to find ways to ensure we are working together in the most caring, cooperative and collaborative way possible; seeking out ways to create more spaces in which our colleagues across the sector can benefit from the collective self-care that our members so cherish. To find out more about the Barbican’s Community Masterclass series, head over to their website.

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