The LAB: A conversation about developing talent in Scotland

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The Urbanism programme at A&DS recently contributed to The Lab, a two day seminar on developing creative talent in Scotland, funded by Creative Scotland, and produced by Nicola Turner (NT Creative Arts Ltd) and Suzy Glass (Trigger) with support from Shift.

The event focused on the idea of how creative talent is developed and sustained as a resource in Scotland, to make things, to shape things, to engage people in doing things. This is the idea about talent, in its broadest sense, as part of building up a confident culture for change . In this context, participants and presenters were invited to consider two broad questions:

The aim of the event was to host an open forum for discussion about ideas for a sustainable future for talent development and opportunities for talent in Scotland.

Lab addressed four themes central to the issue of developing talent:

  • Failure: what do we mean by failure and how is it useful as a learning process in talent development?
  • Context: what are the opportunities and challenges shaping talent development in Scotland?
  • Diversity: what are the different types of creative talent and how are they best developed?
  • Resources: what investments, financial, emotional and other are necessary to enable talent to prosper?

Diarmaid Lawlor presented on the theme of Context. This drew in issues of how people with skills in the creative sector, who may not have paid opportunities are a key part of the talent ecology of Scotland. This is a massive resource pool whose ambition, ideas and energy can have significant impact on the social and economic challenges in Scottish places in creative ways. The challenge is to create platforms to move from this recognition of the potential into the realities of shaping real opportunities.

As part of this discussion, Diarmaid talked about trends in the nature of work, drawing on research by 00/: on the importance of knowledge and importance of communities of interest, and the idea that people sharing space and ideas remains a key idea to impact.

Referencing work by Dr. Harry Burns, in health, two key themes emerge in the presentation as necessary to sustaining talent, talented people and the use of talent to achieve impact on current contexts: address lonliness i.e create places where people can connect, and create pathways ie create opportunities to link people with ideas to opportunities. This kind of thinking underpins approaches like Learning towns where the whole town is seen as a way of delivering Curriculum for Excellence.

Learning towns is about sharing of existing physical assets and buildings in towns for learning, but it is also about connecting learners with as many communities as possible in that place as part of their learning journey. Hosting this set of ideas requires creative approaches to learning, teaching, spaces and production. In short, it needs creativity and talent, resources we can nourish for impacts we can achieve to address the challenges of the contexts we face.

A webpage of resources from the event has been created and is available to view here. It contains podcasts of presentations, video interviews and tweet discussions about the key themes


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