The story so far (1)

Martin Wilson reflects on the first year of the Talent Hub

That doesn’t look like a dancer.

The first task was branding so that we could start recruitment. We needed branding that spoke directly to people with a learning disability or autism.

Convention also dictates that we should create a brand that spoke to the cultural sector as an indicator of a high quality, innovative new programme so that the work we did was taken seriously.

From the outset, we knew that co-production (working with those who stand to benefit from the activity) needed to be at the centre of our work. Nothing for us without us. The designer worked with a group of people with a learning disability or autism, looking at design used by dance companies and organisations.

Their feedback to much of this design was very direct: it didn’t look like a dancer. They couldn’t see dance in it at all. So without the words, how would they know it was a dance company?

Here were the very people we wanted to reach out to telling us what would work. They told us they would like the branding to be colourful, to ‘look’ like a dancer and that there should be lots of different options to reflect how the dancers in the Talent hub would all be different and unique.

It took 3-4 months to work through the process. We hadn’t realized it would take that long to do it well. And that did threaten to affect our schedule. And that did cause us concern. Then started the lengthy process of creating a range of accessible documents available both on- and off-line, including Easy Read documents and a recruitment film.

The recruitment campaign began in March 2018 and by April we had received 42 applications from across England.

We felt the investment in time and a good process to design the branding had worked. It had reached the very people we are trying to reach.

Co-production is time-consuming and throws up new questions with every answer. Frustrations with timeframes do arise, but everyone involved in the process takes a breath and we remind ourselves that The Talent Hub is rooted in a new way of working because it’s trying to step beyond current practice.

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Martin Wilson
January 2019