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Reflections from a CEO

Grace Sodzi

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Well, what a year it’s been. For all of us individually, but for PAPER Arts too. 

PAPER Arts sold its coworking space, then survived two lockdowns (thanks to funding from the Arts Council and Social Enterprise Support Fund) and amidst all that, had a brand new CEO thrown at it – me! 

I can’t write a blog post reflecting on 2020, without mentioning the ‘C’ word (Corona virus, not that C word). Although it looks like we can just about see the light at the end of the tunnel now that people are starting to receive vaccinations, we’re not there quite yet and no one really knows when the end will be.

What we’ve been up to this year

As an organisation we have tried to take advantage of these circumstances as much as we can, using the time to recoup and reflect on PAPER’s past, and contemplate PAPER’s future. The uncertainty everyone has faced has almost been an excuse to say ‘we don’t know what we’re doing so we might as well have a fresh start.’ And with new team and Board members, a shiny new website to come and some exciting online resources on the horizon, we are hopeful and excited for the upcoming months.

There is hope for the creative industry

Certainly, within the creative industries there needs to be some hope. Just this morning I found out a close friend has missed out on yet another opportunity of their dreams. It’s incredibly difficult for anyone to get a job at the minute, but for young creatives who are self-employed and attempting to make a career out of their talent, it has been particularly tough. My only hope is that we can take up space to encourage young creatives to keep at it and keep going, and that it is possible. There’s no place for the ‘starving artist’ rhetoric in our organisation!

My personal journey

For me personally it’s been an interesting journey. Taking on this role has been amazing as I am so passionate about supporting young creatives – indeed I dedicated our strategy report to my friends and the many, many artists I admire. But it’s also been important to make sure, as one of our lovely Board members said to me, to be my own friend as well. An important reminder for those working in the VCSE sector, to not forget ourselves.

Taking a break

Going into the Christmas period, and as we wind down as an organisation for this year, it’s a great opportunity to spend some time reflecting personally and professionally. One thing we can already congratulate everyone on, is getting through 2020! That’s not to be sniffed at or brushed aside, as we so easily can. As social creatures this era of social distancing is unnatural and we’ve all made immense sacrifices to save our NHS and the lives of many people.

I’ll be encouraging our team to spend some time on a creative project over the break, that has nothing to do with work but purely and in the most positive of selfish ways, is just for them. Keeping our creative sparks alive is so important for the well-being of ourselves and our organisation. I would urge you to do the same and get creative this Christmas!

Sending my love and colourful artsy vibes,

Grace Sodzi – CEO of PAPER Arts CIC

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