Challenge, change & achievement - reflections on a year like no other
Steve Moffitt, CEO of A New Direction, looks back on 2020 and considers what the future may hold
Steve Moffitt, CEO of A New Direction
'Here's to their future'
There is no question that 2020 has been difficult year. It is stating the obvious to say that living and working through a global pandemic has not been easy for any of us. There has been so much we have all had to deal with; learning how to work effectively at home, supporting our loved ones, looking after ourselves and keeping safe. Alongside living with fear, loss, anxiety, uncertainty and challenge, we have all had to redesign how we work, rethink what our work looks like and find new ways to be relevant and useful during this the strangest of times.
It goes without saying that the challenges we have experienced at A New Direction are no greater than others. Our challenges have largely been overshadowed by what our partners in the cultural sector are experiencing, alongside the struggle London’s schools and youth organisations are facing, and the difficulties children and young people of the city are undergoing themselves.
Since the first Lockdown in March, the inequalities we have known that have existed in the capital for a very long time have not only become more visible but also more extreme.
There is so much still to be done to change this. The pandemic has challenged all of us to reframe and repurpose what we do. There is much more that we need to put in place to truly have a fairer and more equally distributed creative and cultural offer for the children and young people of the capital. 2020 has started us on this journey.
It feels strange to be celebrating what we have achieved over the last year. This is not a review of greatest successes of the last 12 months but an opportunity for us to share – where we are – what has been happening and connect all the various partners we work with to aspects of our work that they might not be engaged with or aware of and ideally make connections. I think it is important for us to mark what we have delivered – share what has worked – what we are learning – and identify what we need to build on next year. It is important to track how our work has shifted and adapted. The Christmas break is an opportunity to stop, take a break – refresh, reset and prepare for the next year and the next phase of the pandemic.
To be honest it was not difficult to move our work online – we were ready for this.
- Over the last 9 months we have created and re-presented a significant amount of content that has had significant traction with schools
- We have built new partnerships working through voluntary sector networks to distribute creative and cultural resources to families who do not have access to them
- Through Zoom and Teams we are able to connect and support our partners
- Artsmark and Arts Award are currently doing well
- many of the London Cultural Education Partnerships are thriving and finding a new energy and relevance to their work
- We have recruited and trained 100s of young people into jobs in the creative sector, and have created some extraordinary content through our programmes
It is not all doom and gloom. There is hope in a crisis and these highlights share our accelerated learning journey.
We know that the next few years are not going to be easy. Arts subjects in schools are not going to be a priority in the short term. Now much of the cultural sector is fighting for its very survival. There are going to be huge challenges for young people to obtain work in the creative and cultural sector. We are ready to face these challenges. This year has demonstrated that as an organisation we are agile, able to be responsive, adapt and change. We are as ready as we can be. I am very proud of the dedication and commitment of the A New Direction team and I am also indebted for the advice, support and guidance of our board who have held us through this period.
Before I go, I want to just pay tribute to the 76,146 children and every one of the teachers and support staff from the 1,504 schools portrayed in the epic Steve McQueen Year 3 exhibition at Tate Britain, a project we were instrumental in bringing to life alongside our partners Tate and Artangel. We are so proud that the project and exhibition has won the Visual Arts category at this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Awards, which is significant and unusual in that this was as much a learning and participation project as a visual art piece. There is hope and joy in the faces of those pupils, and as we congratulate them all on this (their) win, we will take that into 2021 with us. In Steve McQueen’s own words: ‘Here’s to their future.”
Wishing you all a safe, calm and relaxing break over the festive season and see you in 2021.
Enjoy our highlights of 2020