Just finished a book this week called The Power of the Habit by Charles Duhigg which I think can inform artists practise. He calls on major research and many studies real world examples and practical tips about habits and how they can be ingrained, but to how change habits so they become automatic, you can change a routine, and you can still get the reward at the end of it. There are a few key things he cites – the belief system, assigning a group to go with you, changing the environment, the automatic reaction so it’s something you no longer have to think about.
Fascinating work. Although habits remain for life and the pathways are there, you are capable of ingraining new habits, He uses really diverse examples like the NFL and the civil rights movement to help us understand how habits work.
How to Change Things When Change is Hard – by Chip and Dan Heath was a similarly inspiring read which focuses on why we insist on seeing the obstacles rather than the goal – understanding how our minds function in order to engineer shortcuts and switches to human behaviour.
I look at goal setting often in the pop up program, usually at the commencement of an artist’s time with us. It does work – one of the fashion designers with us has mentioned this as a turning point in her early career many times. One of our more recent arrivals is working through an action plan with her mentor and it’s an exhilarating time for her, reminding herself of why she set up the brand, but facing the changes too with an open mind. I’m so excited about this.
Making people accountable to their Mentors is one of the keystone features of the Pop Up Program. Of course this is not the only feature – once they accepted they are part of a cohort, a group or a network, some of which are working towards some of the same goals. There are so many initiatives, activities and things that have been developed in the last few years that I’m intensely proud of. That of the artists and creative leaders who have created their own communities around their dynamic, intensely local and diverse projects. Prospector Store, Ruth Fattal, Ivan Chew, Unknown Quantity and Shh Centre 4 Hybrid Arts I’ll cite as local leaders in this field. Particularly with PS, as the director has said to me many times, she has created a community who engage with and love the product and become ambassadors for the brand, highly engaged net promoters.
These artists nurture their community in a way that our city needs. Good urban design and elements talk a lot about what a community needs to thrive, and last week’s Festival Keynote Event – the Colloquium from the Sydney Architecture Festival talked about the key things people require to build their community – the key features are access to public transport, proximity to arts, culture and recreational facilities, access to major universities, great hospitals, and a feasible or short journey to work. Parramatta is this. It has all the hallmarks to succeed. The way we work has changed – we follow the high knowledge and innovation jobs, smart jobs, educational investments rather than being focused on industrial production or manufacturing. Many cities have done this very successfully in the past. As Pop Up is part of the wider activities driving the City Animation team to grow and nurture our city, I believe this small brand of place making is highly applicable to all our activities across the public domain.
Creating a good framework for where artists sit in all of this is never easy. But I think we are part of that change, we can live and vision and grow the type of creative city we would like, right here in #parracity. Whilst everyone in pop up is creating their own personal brand, they are part of a bigger change regarding our city that will enhance and build our reputation as a growing, responsive and dynamic one.