Summary of the Year 2020

17th December 2020 - Rosi Lister

CEO Rosi Lister considers the epic changes 2020 has brought, and ponders what we’d like to bring with us into 2021, and what we’ll leave in the dust.

Did we ever think it would be considered ‘normal’ practice to take our children, partners or pets into meetings? I’ve heard it said that it has been a year like no other, and I think it’s fair to say that we have learned a great many things.

We have learned about each other; as counter-intuitively in our state of physical absence, we have become closer, more tolerant of being human and better at taking care of each other. We’ve thanked our carers and our NHS, praised parents, praised community, and worked together to protect lives.

We have learned about ourselves; having been reminded of our own fragility, we take stock and re-evaluate. We are exploring what’s important to us as individuals and as a society. Many of us are seeing our children more and facing the challenges of parenting full time, while working. Many of us interact with our neighbours more and provide help to those that need it. We have learned about Government fallibility and State weakness, and been forced to discover our own strengths, as individuals, as activists, as organisations. Many of us have found our social responsibility in showing that Black Lives Matter, and despite being locked down, we witness, support, and demand change.

We have learnt to work in new and different ways. Our human adeptness at coping with rapid change is a testament to the creativity of our species. Our sudden, emergency-driven grasp of digital communication channels has, I believe, almost singlehandedly altered the habits of several lifetimes. We see on the horizon a world where we are no longer chained to acres of open plan offices and the daily commute with its exorbitant cost to both our purse and the environment.

But with optimism of the will comes pessimism of intellect; the economy has taken a beating. Many people have lost their jobs and more will before we are out of the woods. We’ve faced adversity this year, but have been inspired by the hard work and optimism of those we work with; the teachers and employers, our colleagues in business, arts, culture and heritage organisations, our partners and funders ,and, of course, our children and young people. We can’t wait to see more of this in 2021.

In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of supporting young people through the suffering economy, and I am glad to see this enacted (at least in part) through the government Kickstart scheme. For our own part, we’ll keep working to build a creative nation that embraces change, working with young people, businesses and employers to address the skills gaps our recovering economy needs. 2021 will see us rolling out our apprenticeships, supporting employers in accessing the Kickstart scheme, upscaling our Applied Creativity Labs to work with young people across Europe, and continuing to work with businesses to help them foster creative, sustainable and inclusive practices across their organisation.

2020 has seen us welcome Isabelle Ashcroft and Laura Bloor to the team, but a more bittersweet change for us as a staff team is the decision of my friend and colleague Drew Rowlands to take early retirement. Drew has supported the growth and development of our organisation for many years and has provided me with support and challenge in equal measure since my appointment as CEO in June 2016. One example of a man re-inventing himself as a result, perhaps, of lockdown. Watch out for his new book… film… TV appearances and who knows… even a gong!

As we meet the challenges of recovering our health, our economy and our communities, let’s not forget our moments of enlightenment along the way. Let 2021 be a year of hope.

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