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2 minutes reading time (431 words)

Mirror image – an opportunity for cultural practitioners to reflect on wellbeing, organised by the Cultural, Health and Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA)

On Thursday 3rd October I attended a symposium in response to Francesca’s facebook suggestion. As I live in Birmingham, I jumped at booking a ticket, without any expectations other than to enjoy a few hours on reflecting on wellbeing.

Nicola Naismith, author of ‘Artists Practicing Well’ opened the event introducing her research on how practitioners have a responsibility to practice self-care. Even though, there are good practice guidelines helping organisations and freelancers to deliver activities for wellbeing, Nicola has found through her research that there is limited support for practitioner wellbeing.

Nicolas’s report recognizes that the self-care of the practitioner should be a team effort, involving the commissioner, organizational leader, funder, policy maker. This is necessary for practitioners not to feel isolated. See synopsis of report.

There were two mini wellbeing workshops; Ali Allen, artist and program manager at Escape arts, ran a little taster called mini – me, using recycled materials. Ali uses this as an ice breaker with her participants and finds it a good tool for depression and feelings of isolation.

We were all given a little figure made of a ping-pong ball, wrapped in string, and a body made from wire and tubing. It was a fun activity, where with more time could open up conversations.

The second workshop was with Lapidus’ Director of community, Kiz Bangerh. She introduced the technique of writing ‘unsent letters’ to our self, someone who we are having difficulties with or a situation. Kiz explained how this helps us address the situation and see it from a different perspective enabling us to let go. We tried writing an unsent letter to ourselves.

Kiz showed a clip using Joseph Campbells’ Hero’s journey – archetypes and how in a story there are usually seven archetypes: the hero; the herald; the mentor; threshold guardian, the ally, the shapeshifter, the trickster. These can give us a different perspective on situations.

She explained how we can use archetypes in our journals by asking questions, of who we are at a given time. Giving the example of the shapeshifter, relating to the changing roles when we are preparing a bid, or looking for material etc.

At tea break we were given the opportunity for structured networking. We talked to someone different guided by prompts, asking questions of how they looked after themselves, the barriers and what problems they face with collaborators.

It was an interesting, enjoyable afternoon, which had a lot of useful material. It seems that with more knowledge and support, we can enjoy the benefits of the wellbeing that we share with others.

By Christina Christou


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