25 Nov Restructuring the Nursery – Part 3
About two and somewhat months ago, I wrote a blog about the future of The Nursery. Because we want to keep you informed and we never seem to do the same thing for very long. I let you know that we had started to meet specifically to address the structural problems of having a company run by a small number of people. It leads to burn out and difficulty balancing the many different things we are doing. And, importantly, it leads to us making the same decisions we have always made. Time to open things up. In addition to hearing what many of the community think via our Town Hall and surveys, we have been talking to our teachers and students and looking at what other organisations are doing. It has been a lot to process.
A progress report
I would love to say that everything has been finally resolved. That we are rolling out a watertight plan and dusting off our hands in time for Christmas. But life, companies and improvisation don’t work like that. Restructuring takes time, energy and focus, and we are still in the middle of a pandemic. The conclusion was, perhaps unsurprisingly, that it was hard to reach a clear conclusion. Not that we were doing nothing, but that many of the plans and dreams we have will take resources which we don’t yet have. And that at the moment there are very few fixed points, and we want to do this well rather than rushing to conclusions for the sake of them. Plus in a time where improv was necessarily all online, it is hard to predict what we will be doing in a few months, let alone a few years. The last couple of years of the Nursery has been all about swift repositioning and now is the time for some longer term strategy.
So this is a progress report, rather than a conclusion. In part because we have a lot of work left to do, and in part because this is probably a task that never quite finishes. We want to be responsive, fluid. But we also want to be reliable and stable. That’s a hard balance to strike.
So here’s the concrete stuff. Two weeks ago or so, we started interviewing candidates for our reshuffled education role and an announcement will be made soon. As we have been seeing the different skills sets that candidates have and thinking about the gaps that will be left when Heather and Jules take parental leave, we have realised that we also need someone for communication and community, to formalise and improve what we are doing with panels, shows and other media. Something we will be looking at over the next few weeks also. This will give us a solid basis of classes, content and community events to build from.
And as we were reaching these conclusions and looking at our new year’s education programme, we also realise that the wonderful news of the COVID-19 vaccine may change everything quite quickly. Much sooner than we dared to hope, there might be the possibility of in person improv. What happens then to our online programme? We are aware that a lot of people have come to us for their improv fix because their local classes and shows have not been available. Without being clear when any of this will be possible, let us say this, online improv will not suddenly go away. Whether we have another building or not (we are even dreaming of a retreat space, when that kind of thing is safe again), we will be keeping a balance of on and offline classes. And even looking to how we can run classes which combine both.
So this is what you can expect from us in the next few weeks.
- Announcements about our new education and communication managers.
- A revised artistic policy for the new year.
- Our restructured course pathway.
And here are some things we are planning for the new year:
- The launch of a teacher training programme and application process.
- Courses that (gasp) aren’t improv
- A new building, perhaps?
The next step for us is to start envisaging the next couple of years. We think it is naive to pretend that we know what will happen and who will be involved, so we are now thinking of a branching set of pathways, with possibilities including the recruitment of a new Executive Officer, and Associate Directors to curate seasons of shows, online experimentation and remote coaching, a Diversity Officer and a Fundraising Manager. Some of those things will happen, some won’t. And some things which we haven’t yet even thought about will happen. But we’re trying, and thinking and doing, and we thank you for being a part of it all and sharing so many of your ideas and thoughts.
Please do keep sharing if you can and want, in whatever way works for you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I am always delighted to hear from members of the community.