Neither Away Nor A Day.


Once a year we gather the Stan’s Cafe board together and retreat, via a secret door and a hidden flight of stairs to pristine time-capsule that is the A E Harris & Co Ltd. board room. Here, with a view of the city centre skyline, we start our scheming.

It’s barely away and it’s only an afternoon, but nevertheless this is our away day. In 2016 the day we were away was December 16. As conventional board meetings are a maximum of two hours with packed agendas focused mostly on reporting and monitoring, advice seeking and strategising for the short – medium term it is great to have an opportunity to go long form and gaze into the distance.

As every incarnation of our board has been brimming with positivity and enthusiasm we have always looked forward to being away with them for the day, even to the extent of wishing it were a day. It is useful to thrash through a small number of the big issues facing the company in breadth and depth.

We always ask someone from outside the immediate core of the company to run the day and a few years ago we asked Ros Robins to wield the post-it notes. She did a good job, working us hard, hooking us up on the pegs and pummeling us; we got down to the brass tacks. We left as if we’d watched Rocky II whilst drinking Red Bull, we ripped into the next year full of refocused purpose.
Twelve month moths later Ros was back, she had dug out her old notes, she listened indulgently as we ran through a massive list of all the art we’d made in the last year, then she shredded us. It had undoubtedly been a magnificent year but we’d failed to change ANY of the things we’d agreed we’d wanted to change about how the company ran. The point was well made, we were all chastened, we searched our souls, we resolved to do better and we did, we started the revolution and twelve and twenty four months later Ros would be proud of us.

This year we explored ideas that are brewing for new shows. We spent time discussing how our Creative Learning work meshes with the rest of the company’s activities and finally tested our thinking about how our impending funding application to Arts Council England would look. It was very helpful.

Obviously at the end of our time in the time capsule we put everything back as it was, do the washing up in the executive kitchen, dry everything off, sweep the whole suite for fingerprints and back out of the room vacuuming as we go. Then all the notes taken during the meeting a fed to a goat, which possesses top security clearance, the goat is milked, the milk is sterilized and washed away down a flood drain without even being drunk. Nevertheless, despite all reasonable precautions industrial espionage has struck. A photograph believed to depict the company’s forthcoming artistic program is being circulated. As our enemies now have this information we believe our friends should have it too. It is reproduced above. The cat is out of the bag. If you see rip-off versions of these shows please report them to Stan HQ.

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