In 2011 Peterborough’s local strategic partnership, the Greater Peterborough Partnership (GPP) launched an ambitious 10-year transformation agenda (called the Single Delivery Plan) with a set of underlying principles requiring a substantial shift of culture in city-wide public service delivery. The RSA and the Map Consortium (a group of experienced artist facilitators), proposed establishing an 'Innovation Forum'. The aim was to support and accelerate culture change, working with 40 leaders in Peterborough from across the public sector along with representation from the third sector and local business. The Map Consortium and the RSA led on the design of all aspects of the programme in consultation with the Greater Peterborough Partnership and forum members.
The programme included:
Forum events: Six events were held across the year. These were Conditions for Change and Innovation; Perceptions of Place; Leading Innovation; Engagement; Facilitative Leadership; and Sustaining Innovation. These events comprised a carefully facilitated blend of creative practice, external speakers, reflective discussions and the application of learning to everyday issues and relationships.
Learning groups: Eight cross-sector groups of six to eight people were established to embed learning from the forum events. These met between each event and were initially facilitated by the Map and RSA team, and then self-facilitated. For example, one group worked with film to explore how green space is used in the city, which in turn, prompted the Nene Park Trust’s Chief Executive to re-frame plans for a major capital project on the site. Another group developed a ‘challenge toolkit’ for the forum focusing on how to bypass entrenched cultural blocks to change.
Conversation: Individuals were supported to apply new approaches in dialogue with Map and the RSA. A closed website enabled forum members to share reflections and experimentation.
Dialogue in Action: This project was a partnership between the Arts and Social Change programme and the Innovation Forum and offered self selected groups the opportunity to work on relevant issues in partnership with creative practitioners from Peterborough.
Engagement in the programme was encouraging. Perhaps most significant is that a second phase of the forum has been requested by its members and has going ahead with an increased and wider membership for a further year during 2014. Attendance in all organised activities was consistent at 75 percent and above. Many smaller self-selecting partnerships were formed and undertook initiatives as a result of forum connections or activities. Similarly, most members reported new relationships bearing fruit in relation to their ‘day jobs’, with support or refreshed ideas occurring.