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“my contribution to this conversation is captured in the words of the 1982 hit by Fun Boy Three and Bananarama”

BLOG – I wrote this for the National Lottery Community Fund (formerly Big Lottery) in response to their question What is the future of doing good over the next 10 years?

I was a bit scared by this question. Whose good? Did anyone else think that?

I am also not experienced across a variety of sectors to provide a visionary answer!

But I can talk, more confidently and authentically, about the future of doing good stuff in the field in which I work – and hope this has some wider relevance to the great range of people here.

I work in an arts organisation called Battersea Arts Centre. But I often say that I work in a learning organisation. And a social change organisation. We are also a business. We try not to sit in a silo.

The big change for us over the last 10 years, that we will carry forwards over the next 10 years, is using our Scratch process in absolutely everything we do.

Scratch came about as a mechanism to change theatre:

  • An iterative, creative approach to developing a piece of theatre.
  • Presenting an idea, asking questions, listening to responses, re-developing the idea.
  • Scratch the idea, leave it for a month or two, Scratch it again, and so on.
  • Until you have a fully developed piece of theatre.

It proved especially well-suited to non-conventional theatre artists from different disciplines.

Because over time the process can help build teams, grow support and networks and respond to things that do and don’t work. You can change your mind as you go along. You can achieve something you could not have originally conceived on your own. It’s a creative process.

So 10 years ago we began to apply this process to everything we do. We have applied a Scratch approach to the development of our building, to the way we structure our organisation, to working with teachers in schools, to supporting young people to develop new enterprises, to supporting professionals in the public and third sector,  and so on…

The Scratch approach is iterative, creative, user-centred and it balances intended outcomes with what we find out along the way. Especially in terms of what actually excites and motivates people: what matters to people. Scratch is not unique, it’s similar to other used-based methodologies in other fields of work or walks of life.

The point I would like to make is that when we started using it, it not only made the things that we were doing better (shows, buildings, workshops etc.) it made us undertake better things.

In other words, we have started doing more things that get closer to meeting the needs of our local community. The process is changing our organisation to do more things that people who live near us actually care about.

In essence, my contribution to this conversation is captured in the words of the 1982 hit by Fun Boy Three and Bananarama:

It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it
It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it
It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results.

 I tried to re-write the song in response to this conversation.

It ain’t what you do – or what you’re funded to do, or whether you do it as a charity, or as a business, or as government, or all three, or whether you are fixing a need or building a strength, or whether you measure, or who holds you to account, or whether you use technology or not – it’s the way that you do it. And that’s what gets results.

What I mean is that I think we can often spend too much time, as organisations and as collaborators, worrying about the doing side.

But the way we do things often says more about our values than what we say we are doing

It is the way that we do things that shows people we care, we listen and we help them develop their plan for positive change, not ours.

Shared values are more likely to lead to systemic change, rather than trying to get everyone to do the same thing.

I still use Scratch to help artists develop their idea for a show. But I now also use it to help young people develop ideas for new social enterprises on housing estates around Clapham Junction. Both use Scratch as a creative process to help people access their creative potential.

By prioritising the way that we work together, using Scratch, I believe we are more likely to end up doing something that has value, that meets a need, and that’s also less likely to do damage through the imposition of a top-down goal, target or intention.

Scratch is:

  • A process or set of actions
  • A mindset or set of behaviours
  • A philosophy or set of values.

Categories: Culture FUNDING PROCESS: Scratch, Co-Creation and Creativity

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