“Challenge yourself and trust the process”
11 July 2016
“Stay open, be prepared to challenge yourself and trust the process even when it feels uncomfortable. Above all, be curious,” says one of the mentees who recently completed Arts Access Aotearoa's one-year Creative Spaces Mentor Programme over 2015/2016.
Alexia Martin, community art worker at Otautahi Creative Spaces in Christchurch, was mentored by Lyn Cotton, Artistic Director of Jolt Dance in Christchurch.
Theirs was one of five mentoring relationships participating in the 2015/2016 Creative Spaces Mentor Programme
Claire Noble, Community Development Co-ordinator, Arts Access Aotearoa, manages the programme. She hopes it will run again in 2016/2017 but says that in the meantime, Arts Access Aotearoa will continue building a pool of mentors for creative space staff seeking a mentor.
The two six-monthly reviews via group Skype and the final evaluation provided an opportunity to share ideas about their experience, what they had learned, and the highlights of the mentor-mentee relationship and its impact on their creative space..
"I think it works best when mentees come to the relationship with some clear goals about what they want to achieve over the year - even if those goals evolve," Claire says.
Inspired by motivated mentee
For Lyn Cotton, one of the highlights of her involvement as a mentor was to see her mentee, Alexia, grow in confidence and achieve her goals. “She was very motivated and I was inspired by how hard she worked to achieve her goals.
“I had never mentored before and initially, I was worried that I might not be able to help. It can also be hard to find time to mentor and you need a certain amount of confidence to do it.
“It’s important to be a sounding board and keep opinions out of mentoring. However, it’s also good to draw on your own individual personality and experience, and develop an authentic relationship. Just be yourself and trust your instincts."
And finally, she says, don't put too much pressure on each other so it becomes stressful and unenjoyable.
Processing ideas and issues
For Alexia, the mentoring relationship provided a place “to off-load, process ideas and issues, and focus on goal setting. It was great to have a mentor to hear me and walk alongside me.”
Alexia, who achieved all the goals she had set herself, says it’s important to keep the goals simple, realistic and achievable.
Lyn agrees. “We spent a lot of time breaking down the initial big goals into achievable nuggets.”
New Plymouth’s Wayne Morris, a mentor on the previous two programmes, mentored Lucy McDougall, the Co-ordinator of Whanganui Creative Space. He says goal setting is often easier when you can “bounce” it off someone.
“When someone first shows me their goals, I don’t accept them at face value. I like to challenge them and break them down.”
His advice to participants is: “Be flexible and expect the unexpected.” His ill heath and Lucy’s flooded house meant the timelines “blew out”.
Lucy says Wayne was a “fantastic” mentor: a voice of reason and a sounding board, who empowered her to keep going. At the end of the mentorship, Wayne even visited Whanganui and conducted a drum-making session at Lucy’s creative space.
Claire Noble says most of the mentees achieved their goals, thanks to the guidance and support of their mentors. The mentors also gained a lot from the experience.
"We are very grateful to the mentors and thank them for their generosity. A number of them are happy to offer their services again and say they always learn something new from working alongside their mentees."
Contact Claire Noble (E: claire.noble@artsaccess,org.nz T: 04 802 4349) if you would like to be a mentor on the Creative Spaces Mentor Programme, or if you know of someone whom you think would be a good mentor.