• 'What does the future hold?'

    Welcome to our newly refreshed web site! Anyone visiting it recently will have noticed that it had become somewhat out of date. Life tends to take over for us freelancers and the imperative of the contract and the work in hand and of course, the deadlines often means that looking to the future takes a lower priority. Well, recently I have taken some time to reflect on where we are and look to the future ....

    2014 has been an eventful year personally and professionally, my work is both rewarding and challenging and I am privileged to be able to work on long term contracts with great clients and projects that are diverse and exciting. I know that I am lucky to be doing work that I love, with people that I respect and learn from and in an environment that continues to challenge me and my practice. I recently started to work with a group of exceptionally talented musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic who do some extremely demanding participatory work in difficult settings on developing leadership and this underlined for me how rewarding such face to face development work can be.

    In Harmony Liverpool has just entered its 6th year and the evaluation work we are doing is generating more robust evidence of impact as time goes on. Watching the children grow and mature as people and as musicians has been one of the most moving experiences of my career. A film celebrating the first five years by Mark McNulty is available here

    At the same time, I am entering the final year of leading ArtWorks for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the work on the legacy for this special initiative is stretching the whole team as we head into 2015 and into the future for this practice. Several publications are in the pipeline including a recent one on learning approaches for artists. ArtWorks has been able to achieve a great deal in a short time by opening dialogues, generating conversations and shining a light on the needs of artists working in participatory settings. Working with the pathfinder programmes in collaborative learning and research has been hugely rewarding and a great learning curve. My work with Belfast Exposed has taken me to a part of the UK that I had never worked in before, working with a photographic gallery with a hugely innovative community engagement programme and that has been a unique and wonderful experience. The work I am doing with Fevered Sleep has taken me back to one of my first loves, theatre. Lucky? You bet .....

    Alongside this work profile, I have also taken a major personal step in relocating to the North East - back to my roots! How wonderful it is to live by the sea again, to be able to connect with a new cultural infrastructure and to reignite old networks. In less than three months I have enjoyed so much culture and am finding the contrasts and synergies between my old city of Liverpool and that of Newcastle/ Gateshead and Sunderland fascinating. There are so many similarities and many of the same social and economic characteristics and consequent inequalities. And once again, I find myself thinking about what could be learned from comparative studies .... watch this space.

    So, what does the future hold? Burns Associates will continue to grow and evolve and I am proud to bring Rivca Burns into the fold – a chip off the old block, Rivca has been freelance for 6 years and has built a significant portfolio of work around events and festivals alongside her own creative producing and artists support initiatives. It is great to have her on board and we hope that the complimentary skills she can bring to the company will help us to move from strength to strength. I am aiming to write more, publish more and ensure that the learning from the projects we engage with is disseminated. I hope to travel more in 2015 and learn from approaches adopted elsewhere.

    So, welcome to our newly revamped website and please stay in touch. I promise to be better at blogging in future!

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