CuriousWorks’ last Fat Chat of 2023, led by Kiriaki Zakinthinos, was on reflexivity and evaluation. It provided an opportunity for everyone to consider our own relationships with our work over the past year; reflect on the highs, lows and challenges we faced; and reconsider how we would approach evaluation and reflexivity in our work across 2024.

First, some definitions (helpfully supplied from Source):

REFLECTION:

Reflection is learning and developing through examining what we think happened on any occasion.

Reflection is an in-depth consideration of events or situations outside of oneself.

Reflection involves reliving and re-rendering: who said and did what, how, when, where, and why.

REFLEXIVITY:

Reflexivity is finding strategies to question our own attitudes, thought processes, values, assumptions, prejudices and habitual actions, and to strive to understand our complex roles in relation to others.

It is becoming aware of the limits of our knowledge, of how our own behaviour plays into organisational practices and why such practices might marginalise groups or exclude individuals.

It is being able to stay with personal uncertainty, critically informed curiosity as to how others perceive things as well as how I do, and flexibility to consider changing deeply held ways of being. It’s being able to locate oneself in the picture.

Before taking a deep-dive into the WINS and CHALLENGES of 2023, we set our intentions for the session by answering these questions:

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  1. Courteous, honest, challenging; learning and listening with care, kindness, growth, patience, acceptance, openness, empathy, critical thinking (appreciating both emotional and analytical thinking); positivity, collegiality + collaboration.
  2. To reflect on how I’ve worked with others and myself this year; how can I do better? How to best improve myself – celebrating wins! Futuring; practice as a mentor; open to feedback and to possibilities.
  3. A loving family; for time to think about the future; patience, kindness and open-mindedness in the team; working for an org that appreciates radical candor, values evaluation; four-year funding success, the team of peers at this table, flexible job balance with family and personal life.
  4. My community and local culture, those that have had a similar upbringing; the team; myself + mentees; CuriousWorks and the future potential of the org + the creatives connected to us.

Then we talked about THE WINS! 

  • EOI for Creative Australia and Curious360 funding coming through
  • Increase in applicants for Testing Grounds and Curious360 – reaching more artists
  • Development of the Testing Grounds artists
  • Saying no to things and asserting boundaries
  • Coming back to work after leave – balancing family and work
  • Making a phone call with no anxiety
  • Running WOW Kids Festival reporters program
  • Moving to Fairfield
  • Establishing Curiously West Film Club + completing the WAVES production
  • Supporting early career artists through a variety of Social Enterprise jobs
  • Completing the Frog Pond/Homelands project
  • The Creative Exploration Day
  • A new strategic plan and future programs
  • Placing wellbeing first in practice – EAP, critical incident response, making necessary changes to projects to avoid exhaustion and burnout

Read our 2023 annual report here if you want a deep dive into our programs here.

We also talked about the GAPS/CHALLENGES, which included:

  • Overloading on work + time management challenges
  • Collecting data systematically – with time pressures, this is sometimes left to last
  • Communicating needs – reaching out + following up, speaking up and being assertive
  • Organising the drive – another admin task that often gets bumped
  • Staff meetings need to stick to one hour
  • Embedding evaluation throughout our project life-cycle
  • Challenge of gaps in core funding – finding ongoing funding to expand current roles and team

Then we looked a little closer at some evaluation resources made by Jackie Bailey and the BYP Group, for some inspo:

And finally we wrapped up and checked out, gently:

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Last words from the team after CuriousWorks FLEX 2023:

We learned: what reflexivity means; that social contracts should include staff; that radical candor should be applied; about Jackie Bailey’s work; more about our peers.

We felt validated: when we cheered for boundaries; in our efforts; in listening to each other’s wins and gaps; in how big evaluation is and thus working together to improve this; that staff deeply care about their work and all leaned into reflexive practice.

We want to improve: assertiveness and confidence; organising and time management; applying evaluation resources; more reflexive thinking, making evaluations part of our culture and habitual practice.

Since then, the team has collaborated on a suite of project resources, including a new project ideation template with ethical storytelling provocations and an end-of-project debrief template.

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