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ACCA Programming Committee Panel – Managing Up, Down and Across: Coaching and Mentoring Skills for Arts Managers

JERRY SMITH, Co-Chair, ACCA Programming Committee | 

In response to queries from the ACCA membership, ACCA’s Programming Committee recently delivered a professional development panel for the Greater Toronto Hamilton region members (current and potential), October 8, 2014, at the Deer Park Library in Toronto. For many of us working in the sector – whether new to the job, mid career or senior managers – some form of personal development is often the road to sanity; however, which role fits best: guide, mentor, mentee, facilitator, coach, learner, peer?

What was clear from the members of this panel was, “One size does not fit all!” (Can you imagine a visual artist looking at a palette that offered a single colour?)  Work in Culture Executive Director Diane Davy shared the experience of working with a variety of mentoring programs and the benefits they offer for busy working professionals who want very specific input, need to expand their network, and recognize the importance that mentors serve as sounding boards and facilitators, not just an all knowing expert.

The Metcalf Foundation has been a leader in contributing to our understanding of the costs and benefits of mentorship, and Cathy Smalley explored some of the key lessons learned (and shared copies of their report.)

Carrie Brooks-Joiner, project facilitator on CCCO’s Peer Learning Circle Project (2009-12), drew on this action research to outline the experience provided by a peer support structure for different groups, including Emerging Professionals, Curators/Programmers, Managers/Leaders, and Artist/Creators.

Not only did the panel present core insights from their research and practice, but they responded to the facilitator Anne Frost, Program Director of Humber College’s revitalized post diploma certificate program in arts management, to several mini-cases, as well as questions from the audience.

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