Designing peer-coaching circles for the arts and culture sector

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Queensland Ballet (QB) artists and arts enablers are the first cohort to pilot Working Out Loud Circles to help rebuild business and artistic practices affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

QB recently began an 18-month partnership with UQ researcher, Dr Kate Power, who is  evaluating the applicability of Working Out Loud (WOL) Circles to the arts and culture sector and using those findings to design a new Peer-Coaching Guide for artists and arts enablers.

Embraced by companies like Bosch, Pfizer and Vodafone across 16 countries, WOL Circles provide a structured approach to peer-coaching, designed to help people set and take steps towards achieving their goals.

Working Out Loud founder, John Stepper, explains that WOL Circles help people make progress towards goals they care about, and to feel better while doing it. But, despite some interest from arts organizations internationally, the applicability of WOL Circles to the arts and culture sector has not yet been tested.

Widespread restrictions on public gatherings caused by COVID-19 have caused devastating losses to arts and culture around the globe – and particularly to independent artists and small-to-medium companies.

Recognizing this crisis, the Queensland Government changed its 2020 funding round of the Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships (AQIRF), to focus on industries affected by the pandemic.

Inspired by a conversation with QB Executive Director, Ms Dilshani Weerasinghe, during a previous research project examining sustainability and the performing arts, Dr Power successfully applied for AQIRF funding.

Dr Power said her project – entitled “Creating Out Loud” – will first test the applicability of WOL Circles to the arts and culture sector through collaborations with three Queensland-based arts companies: Queensland Ballet, La Boite Theatre, and ArtsNexus.

Informed by these results, as well as a sector-wide needs assessment survey, “Creating Out Loud” will then develop a new arts and culture peer-coaching guide, to help build relationships, increase collaboration, and foster agility and innovation across the arts and culture sector. The Creating Out Loud Peer-Coaching Guide will be made freely available on this website.