Please note that these poems were written by Kate Fox as ‘Poet in Residence’ on the day – they were written in rapid response to the day and performed by Kate at the start and end of the afternoon session. www.katefox.co.uk
Title: A Board as Heart
Based on ADF’s morning training session by ITC chief exec Charlotte Jones
A board should be a sounding board,
an additional limb,
giving a leg up,
a way in.
OR, a company is a person.
It’s constitution is it’s body,
it’s board is it’s brain.
It’s members should know what they’re expected to give,
and what they can hope to gain.
They’re upholding the vision,
the art- so hang on,
maybe they’re the heart!
It’s not down to artists or actors alone
to try diversify.
Boards pump power,
they’re where it lies.
“Boards, boards, boards,
how do you define that?”
How do you break into the tower,
penetrate the source of power?
In Britain, boards uphold the idea of a public-benefitting education.
They’re separate from the bods who run
You need trusty trustees
who won’t overwhelm the art aims
with deadening expertise.
They should recruit the chief exec,
and act as a heart monitor,
a reality check.
They’re scarily, personally liable
for making a charitable organisation is financially viable.
But charity status gives access to funds, edge, value
and means people “get” your structure
and what you do.
Boards need to meet, perhaps retreat.
Have space to think, to learn.
Members should know what they can bring
and what they want to take out in return.
They might share their expertise, support, their skills,
share their artistic side,
redress frustrations and lacks,
show the company they’re on side.
It could show them how the sector,
or the whole country’s flowing,
expand their networks, leadership ability,
Dysfunctional boards are subject to a heart attack.
Honesty, openness and transparency are key.
Members might need help to be involved,
fulfil their use.
veins and arteries should flow
between organisation, trustees and values.
Beware of organisations
with a lack of direction, dialogue, decision-sharing,
daring or development.
A Vitamin D deficiency can stop your heart.
Can stop trustees valuing, visioning, advising, steering,
supporting and taking part.
So, a board IS extra limbs,
let’s say two more
Whilst also providing the passion and drive
which gets blood pumping around the body public and politic.
It’s both the monitor,
and the heartbeat.
Title: Be a Pacemaker Based on the afternoon session led by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway and the provocations by guest speakers
Simeilia calls for the opposite of a talking shop.
Cultural diversity on boards needs action,
walking the walk.
The ADF can be a change catalyst,
so that no one today walks out the door,
without agreeing that Northern NPO boards
can’t go on any more
with only 8% BAME members.
This lack, and decline must stop.
It’s a journey, a puzzle, a join the dots.
But nobody wants to be a tick box.
What’s needed is a values-fit,
not a random companypaired with a random trustee.
theatre director, board wrangler,
black, Northern woman
says black, British, political, bold
hidden gems of theatre,
are better armed now than in days of old.
She’s coming in implacably but without blame,
a dove at her back,
knowing now is the time to address this lack.
With two art student sons,
the future diversity of boards is also personal.
She’s been patient,
put up with her own career’s slow pace,
for long enough.
Now it’s time to take up rightful governance space.
No longer accept excuses;
“We’re already a good team,
it’s hard to find people,
the board’s going on until they pop their clogs”.
This heart’s a ticking clock,and we need unstick the cogs.
If not now when? If not you, who?
Javaad Alipoor remembered speed garage
coming out of Niche in Sheffield.
How the story was told in London.
Fast beats, accelerated.
An energy too threatening to the city
to be celebrated here.
Change the board, you’ll change the organisation.
This can’t be just a tokenistic, surface,
“Snapshots of BAME children
we worked with on a project”-type representation.This is a shift to the future coming up from Northern streets,
not Hovis ads and heritage,
but Ayub Khan Din, Funkadelic beats.
believes in change,
she’s a new person every day
and she’s Hearts all the way.
Championing the Creative Case for diversity.
Her company’s looking for a new chair.
Not to sit down,but so they can keep on moving,
with mutual equity and care.Disconnecting risk from danger.
Zendeh’s search for a new chairmight involve taking the table
to people not already at it.
Will a new acronym (for BAME)actually help new people in?
What’s the best and worst that can happen?
I’d say: the worst is no beats,
Culturally diverse representation,
continuing to decline.
Electric shocks to restart stopped clocks could include:Northern board banks,badges for boards,board buddies and exchanges,artist-board member meets,enthusiastic selfies and post-show Tweets,talking artistic process,sharing good practice, celebrating success,considering unusual suspectsshowing trustees curiosity and respect.
So the best is a jumpstart to these stages,
You can be a pacemaker for these Northern stages and streetswhere untapped lifepulses under our feet.