Imperfect Action: Fostering Change in the Arts
In this episode of the Arts and Everything In Between podcast, host Lucy Costelloe talks to Katie Parry, Director at Supercool Design about how arts and culture organisations can channel their passion for change without getting overwhelmed.
Katie shares her learnings from Supercool, a web design agency focused on the arts and culture sector and discusses tangible steps organisations of all sizes can take to make lasting positive impacts.
- The importance of starting somewhere, even if imperfectly.
- How small steps can make the biggest impacts.
- Internalising change can help make transformation a core part of your organisation.
- Transparency is key to encouraging others.
- Why partnering up can help ease the pressures of change.
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Theatre Green Book: https://theatregreenbook.com/
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About Our Guest
Katie Parry is Director at Supercool, a UK-based web design agency focused on arts and cultural organisations. Katie leads their work on sustainability, accessibility and inclusion. She has a background in design, marketing, copywriting and is passionate about using business as a force for positive change.
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Arts and Everything in Between podcast, brought to you by Tickets Off.
Lucy Costelloe: Hello and welcome to this episode of the Arts and Everything in Between podcast. My name is Lucy Costello, Head of Sales and Marketing for Ticketsolve, and I am absolutely over the moon to welcome our special guest, Katie Parry of Supercool. Katie is a director for super cool crafting websites, digital strategies, and brands for arts and cultural organizations.
Today I am delighted to welcome Katie. Katie is someone I have been probing and prodding for quite a while now to consider joining us on the arts and everything in between and I’m absolutely delighted. that we were able to set this date. It’s a really special podcast. Katie is a great contact that I’ve made.
And I suppose for me, for the listeners, what was really important about [00:01:00] introducing Katie today was I had been following some of the newsletters and the various channels and communications that had been sent originally via super cool. But had, originated from Katie’s work. So very quickly I began to follow what is, I have to say, one of my absolute favorite monthly newsletters that I make sure to highlight and bookmark each month.
My perspective on, growing this relationship became Katie reached out to me. thRough LinkedIn and we set up a call and I was absolutely over the moon because, as I said, I had been following her work and gaining from her insights. Keeping in contact with Katie over the past months has been an absolute privilege because I’ve been able to share with her some of my learnings, some, I suppose at times my frustrations with some of the topics that we’re going to talk to today some of, as we say the big agenda pieces talking about sustainability and EDI and some of the work that Katie’s been doing as well.
Katie is incredibly human and so much fun to chat with and I really hope you enjoy this [00:02:00] episode. I am absolutely delighted to hear any feedback that you might have for us. Welcome, Katie. Katie, welcome to The Arts and Everything in Between. How are you doing today?
Katie Parry: Thanks ever so much, Lucy. Can I just say quickly, thank you so much for the opportunity of doing this.
And I’m so thrilled that folks like you and Ticket Solve are interested. in anything that I’ve got to say.
Lucy Costelloe: Honestly, Katie, it’s such a privilege for us. As I’ve put in my intro to our listeners, long time follower have really been watching the progress and the actions that you’ve been implementing over the past few years.
So delighted to have a space a virtual space with you today and to be able to share this conversation then with our wider community and listeners.
Katie Parry: It’s really, it’s so nice to hear things like that you actually read and take something from the newsletter because sometimes it feels a bit like I’m just talking to myself.
But yeah, making making a newsletter that is quite personal to me. I wrote a little sort of intro at the [00:03:00] start. It seemed like a little bit of a risk, a little bit, maybe a little bit weird. It says slightly outside of the realms of talking about arts and culture and digital stuff. But it seemed like something quite useful to do.
But I think hopefully that slightly risky personalness has paid off. If you’re actually taking something from it, that’s great. Yeah,
Lucy Costelloe: I absolutely agree with you, Katie. I think for me, something that I didn’t realize until I started to reflect back on what, what we were hoping to achieve from this conversation was the idea that maybe without my kind of my conscious awareness very quickly, I began, to really trust the content that you were putting in your newsletters.
And I suppose, I had fallen in love with the approach that you’ve taken as well. I think probably what you’ll find is that a lot of your readers, and again, I’m putting my hands up because this is my own experience with it, probably very much. Feel like we know you very well with it, maybe without you realizing that because we’re picking up on the snippets and it’s a story that continues every month and [00:04:00] it feels something you sit down with and have a nice cup of tea with.
But also for me, one of the most important things is I’m learning something I mightn’t have considered last month or something that maybe had been in the back of my mind is starting to be pushed a little bit forward. And I think that’s something that I’d love to talk to you today, Katie, is, for me you’re such a passionate person and your passion most definitely comes across in everything that you send via the newsletter and anything that we see from Supercool, there’s passion there.
But I think sometimes where… Where I struggle myself is this idea that I become very passionate about a topic, I become very passionate about, what we should be looking at in terms of climate change, sustainability, also as well, on the topic of EDI, where do I stand?
What are my considerations? How do I make sure that I make a positive impact towards the direction that us as society want to be very much facing? But I also have a responsibility as well to make that action happen. And for me, it [00:05:00] sits like a seesaw, as my passion increases and increases, and I want to do more and I want to learn more and I want to become more aware of my understanding.
The seesaw side with the responsibility seems to dip down and I can never get them even, but I find the approach that you take really tends to balance both and you keep it. Honest, it’s ethical and it’s sustainable in both terms, sustainable in terms of the environment, but also sustainable for your organization and what you can put on your plate.
So really excited to hear your thoughts on that and to listen to the story that, that you very much created within Supercool and your team.
Katie Parry: Yeah, I think it’s interesting when you’re talking about being passionate about basically doing good stuff. It can then start to get really overwhelming when there’s just so much to do and you don’t know where to start.
And particularly in terms of sustainability, there’s there’s a bit of a fear of, am I greenwashing? I’m not an expert. How can I possibly? Do something or talk about what we’re doing. Just in case it’s a bit wrong. So I think, [00:06:00] yeah, there’s as much as passion is important. It’s important also to just do something and just do a little thing.
And it doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be huge. And even if you’re not passionate about it, I think whether you’re doing sustainability things for business reasons, I don’t really care what reason you’re doing it for as long as you do something. So I think. That’s that’s a big, important part of it, actually taking action and it is really scary, first of all, doing something, but secondly, talking about it, because of that sort of worry, am I doing it right?
Is someone going to call me out because I’ve done something this way and I should have done it that way? But. I that there was something about, maybe it’s because I care about it so much, something that sort of pushed me over the hump get over yourself, put your ego aside, maybe you’ll get it wrong.
It’s funny to say, oh, I got that wrong. And you carry on and do some more stuff. So I think that there’s a kind of accepting that sometimes we’ll get it wrong or not [00:07:00] quite do it right or miss the mark and just doing it anyway.
Lucy Costelloe: Yes. And I have sat on the other end like we are today and I have had those concerns and I’ve said to you, Katie, I feel like everything that’s out there at the moment, any step that I try and take, it could be, it could be, not that it would come back around or anything like that, but it could essentially be perceived as a form of greenwashing, how do you balance that?
And your response was exactly that, you won’t be able to. And that’s okay because so long as you’re doing it with the right intentions and you’re taking your due diligence and you’re really considering everything that you’re doing, but most importantly you are having that drive to, to create an action, you’re doing the right thing.
You have to make mistakes. And then for anyone whose attention to detail is immaculate, you have to be willing to have that sense of that was a mistake. We’re going to address that, learn from it, and we’re probably going to make another 10 as well in between now and this time next week.
Katie Parry: Oh, definitely. I’m sure I’ve done that. [00:08:00] I think the other thing is I didn’t have a kind of grand plan or a strategy laid out or any sort of roadmap of the future. I didn’t know what I was doing. I just. started doing some stuff when when we agreed to talk about this, I was like, Oh, where did this even start?
I can’t remember. And it it threw me back to. Very many moons ago at university, my thesis was about using design for good, designers using design for good. And it’s oh, so I’ve actually been thinking about and working on this sort of stuff for ages, despite having mostly been a designer most of my career.
So yeah, that was oh yeah, that’s nice. That all fits in quite neatly.
Lucy Costelloe: ThAt’s amazing. I love how that was a real kind of 360 moment where you realised this didn’t just start. Five years ago or six years ago, actually, it’s been very much embedded in your thinking for so long and I think also, what’s been so interesting on what you said, you didn’t start with the strategy, but from, from my outside view, looking [00:09:00] in and seeing super cool at some of the events that we attend with tickets of as well, like the AMA, It feels very much such a part of your brand.
It feels very strategic now. It’s become very embedded in kind of everything that you do. And when I consider about, even some of the topics that you might speak about at the AMA when I see the session topics. And I know your colleague Kate had a wonderful session this year at the AMA in July.
For me, I’m really in my, in the back of my head. And I’m like, of course, SuperHoo would have a session on that topic because it makes sense. It’s their strategy. It’s their drive. For any listeners who are thinking they’re going to sit down and have to come up with a 10 page strategy, if you’re either looking at sustainability or EDI or both anything like that, maybe the best place to start actually isn’t sitting down with the pen and paper.
It might be with this podcast and listening to some of the reflections that Katie is going to share with us now. Like Katie, can I ask you, reflecting back on, on the entire progress and even, going back to your times at university and your thesis, what are the [00:10:00] smaller, shall we say, steps that you might have taken initially?
And then what, over the space of time, what does that roadmap that you’ve created look like now? I
Katie Parry: think some of the smaller things, I think one of the first things we started talking about in terms of, Doing stuff towards sustainability specifically was just a very simple thing.
Like keeping your email database clean. It’s really easy, but don’t send hundreds of emails out to people that open them. That’s a waste of energy. Everything that you send has got a sort of a digital carbon footprint. So just do that. It’s good practice anyway. Like a lot of these things that are quite good for accessibility, inclusion, sustainability.
a kind of good, just general practice things. Being mindful of the number of images you put in your emails, just don’t put as many images in your emails and the email won’t have such a big carbon footprint and you’re slightly winning and it’s not going to save the world. It’s not a massive thing, but doing lots of [00:11:00] those little things is really it starts to build up that habit of.
doing things, doing something, doing anything, spotting the opportunities to do something positive.
Lucy Costelloe: I got really excited there, Katie. I’m sorry to cut across you, but when you mentioned about cleaning up email databases, like my marketing years were like, we can do that, which is fun. Makes our reporting very nice.
Also. We’re doing something positive and we’re creating action what is not slow.
Katie Parry: Lots of wins all in one. Yes. It’s something everyone can do
Lucy Costelloe: right now. Yes, exactly. And I think that’s also something that, particularly in our sector, something that, sometimes I get questions in terms of what does a healthy database actually look like?
And I’m like, Kind of looks like you’re in there every day or every week and you’re looking at your trends and you’re looking at your unengaged or your growth is that healthy growth but actually now you know to be on not necessarily that you have to be on top of it all but what while you’re doing that understanding why you’re doing [00:12:00] that as well it’s really important something as well that in terms of imagery you know I’ve been looking at our email kind of a user experience.
In terms of accessibility and particularly looking at alt text at the moment and just really understanding my understanding of how we should be using alt text to benefit user experience and customer journeys and images is something yeah that absolutely came up as well. So it’s not just going to cover some of the considerations you might have around energy of emails.
It’s also, it’s so vitally important for your users who might be heavily reliant on where they are in that current moment on your email. What part of the journey is that? Is that an awareness piece? Is it a call to action piece where they should be, booking tickets, buying memberships and so forth?
And we really need to consider all of that as well. So yeah. I have to say I, the first, so far the first small step has definitely excited me.
Katie Parry: Oh, [00:13:00] that’s very good. I think, yeah, you mentioned alt text. I think most email tools, systems, whatever you call them, have got quite easy ways of adding alt text to images.
It’s an important thing to do, and it’s a particularly important thing to do on things like social channels and your website because again, there’s that sort of mixture of not only is it good for people who are using screen readers, if someone’s got a crummy internet connection and an image isn’t loading, they can read what the image is of it’s good for search engine optimization many wins for doing all of these things.
Lucy Costelloe: So I suppose then as your steps got bigger and more confident, what did some of the bigger steps look like that you started to implement? And also, can you tell us how you managed them all?
Katie Parry: How I managed? I don’t know. Magics. So yeah, weirdly, one of the biggest steps we took was one of the first things we did.
So way, way [00:14:00] back in 2016, the very end of 2016, we ditched the office. We had an office in Birmingham for many years, since 2004. And we decided as a small team at the time to start working remotely. And it was a big change, but really important from the points of view of. Both our environmental impact, the team was traveling from one side of Birmingham to the other and back every single day, polluting from commuting.
So we’re like that’s not really that good. We were working with a lot of clients around the country remotely. So we thought we could do this as well. And it also meant that everyone on the team would gain an hour or so. of their lives outside of work back. So that sort of work life balance thing came into it as well.
That was quite a process. We did do a couple of trials. And one of the main things that we decided was everyone in the team has to want to do it. If one person was like, [00:15:00] no, then we wouldn’t do it. Yeah. It was a little kind of, yeah, democratic thing that we
Lucy Costelloe: decided to do. And it was so far ahead of, that was years and years before we even realised, oh, we can do a home office.
What do you mean? I can work from home and work hybrid and everything like that. So that must have been very scary at the
Katie Parry: time. It was really scary particularly as not long after we did it. We I can’t remember quite the details of it, but we were going to we were going for a project and that particular organization didn’t want to work with us because we didn’t have a building.
Oh wow. And yeah, that was the only reason. And so we were thinking, oh no, we have made a massive mistake. So we didn’t actually. make a big deal of it. We’d predicted this might be the case, but when it a worst fear came true, like we’re not going to work with you because you haven’t got an office that you all sit in, it seemed oh no.
This is terrible. We don’t have that problem now. We’ve got, the team is all over the [00:16:00] country. There’s a few of us in Wales, some in England, some in Scotland. And yeah, it’s, it works brilliantly. And everyone now understands that, oh, it can work like that. We don’t actually have to be sat in the same room.
If we all went to one place we can all work together. We wouldn’t get the chance to work together. As a team, if we had to work in one place, because it would take us days to get to the office.
Lucy Costelloe: Yeah, absolutely. And actually on that as well, I wonder, whether this is selfish or not, I wonder how our kind of relationship would have fostered if you weren’t, if we were in the office, if you were in the office how that might have, would it have taken us years to have crossed paths like this, rather than in such a short space of time.
I really feel like I can reach out to you with any question. I hope you don’t mind that I do that as well when I have questions but I suppose for our listeners, because it is I do find, in the sector that we’re with it, we’re in, and the purpose of the arts and culture, the organization, the theater, very much about [00:17:00] creating the space, this place for audience members where they come and they share their loyalty.
Working from home can definitely be a challenge, but to flip that on its head, I think, if organizations are looking at engaging with partners that, if there are any kind of pre assumptions or, if they do consider this idea of, oh you’re a remote company, to actually, to maybe open up to some of the reasons.
Why that might be the case. And in the case of Supercool, it’s for the fact that you were making massive progress in terms of sustainability and carbon footprint considerations as well. I think, there’s, that in itself can be really interesting and it’s something that I’m hoping to lead into as well.
Which I hope you don’t mind, but when we were on a call a few weeks ago, again, talking about our podcast, every time I speak with you, Katie there’s another consideration or kind of You go deeper and you really look at everything quite strategically. But you had mentioned to me that, you’re now at the stage where you are looking at your full list of partners and probing [00:18:00] them, asking them a tough question to say, can you share with me your sustainability pledges?
Or if you have a strategy in place could you tell us a little bit about that and how you’ve gotten on
Katie Parry: with that? Yeah, that I thought that would be quite a simple thing. It’s not that hard a job to get a list of everyone that we work with. All of the different tools that we use that sort of thing.
But actually that has ended up being quite a big project and it’s an ongoing thing because. People do work or indeed say they’re going to and then don’t necessarily and yeah, that started as something that I thought, oh, this is gonna be quite easy to manage and quite easy to do, but the.
The amount of information, the format of the information, the quality of the information that comes back from various suppliers, the amount of time that it takes for some partners to come back, it’s, it varies a lot and it makes that very difficult to manage, particularly if someone is not massively organized, that’s me.[00:19:00]
It’s quite a tough thing to keep doing. And at the moment, quite honestly, I don’t know a good way of doing it. It happens in fits and spurts. But one of the other things we have done is fairly recently. It’s not just me trying to lead on stuff when I’m not particularly organized. We started a sustainability working group at Supercool.
I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to do this. Who’s interested? And the team are brilliant. And yeah, so we’ve got a nice chunky group of folks who are really interested in making sure that we’re doing. Good stuff. And we keep up with progress and we keep being more sustainable and we keep being more accessible inclusive as well.
There’s another working group. But we are meeting tomorrow. So that always gives me a prompt of, Oh, I must get up to date with keeping in touch with suppliers. So that’s the kind of, it’s a rolling thing at the moment and that’s how I’m managing it. There have been a couple of responses that have not been [00:20:00] brilliant.
So we then set those tools aside and start looking for alternatives. But we’ve also had a big, like lots and lots of responses that are really positive and, oh, we’ve not been asked that before. That’s interesting. And when I first started it, I think it was a couple of years ago, the the most
human responses were coming from like the tiny organizations that build the little tools that we use saying, Oh, I’m so glad you asked about this. We do tree planting. We do this. We do that. And then from the big organizations, it was tumbleweed. That has changed now. A lot of places have a lot of stuff on their on their websites.
So it’s quite easy to find information. But yeah, that is a tricky one, but it’s really important because part of it is that sort of advocacy thing. If you’re being asked about it, you’re being made to think about it. Yes, I was just going to say, you might actually do something
Lucy Costelloe: about it. Yeah, really powerful, I think, as well to consider because I see it as well.
We see it frequently in, in [00:21:00] tenders and contracts. Organizations want to know what we’re doing, and I love that because for me, it’s a real, it’s in a way, Again, if I go back to that idea where I really struggled to balance my passions seesaw side with my responsibility side, it, questions like that just come in and they put a brick in the middle and it’s this is what, this is everything that I need to consider everything that we need to look at, or also a nice opportunity in all honesty to, to go back and look at some of.
the things that we’ve done even the smaller wins to think that was a massive movement that we did. Last year at the Ticket Solve Forum, we really focused on sustainability and you know something that we’ve been doing at the moment as well as looking at how can we really consider what we are, what we’re putting out there just for the sake of putting things out there.
And that’s really refined what we do as well. But that was a scary a scary moment as well. And and we’ve lots of ideas because we got lots of feedback as well, in terms of how we approach that. And [00:22:00] again it’s been lots of learnings and we’ve even more ideas to look at for this year in terms of what we’re doing.
What we’ll be doing at when we go out and when we attend wonderful events like TPC and the AMA and so forth. Yeah, but for me, that was definitely one of the scarier steps, shall I say that we had to take. And when I say it now, I’m sure our listeners are like, Really?
But that was only something kind of small, but for us it wasn’t. It was a big change, so
Katie Parry: I think you’re right in that there’s something really nice about being made to look at what you’ve done. Yes. Remember, Oh yeah, actually we’ve done loads of stuff. I think we’ve been Relatively good, particularly after a kind of slightly nerve wracking start actually sharing what we’re doing, what we’re, what’s going what’s going wrong.
All of those sorts of things. But it was very much focused on the business and we were doing stuff behind the scenes with it, making websites that are more accessible and more sustainable, but not really talking about it. [00:23:00] So when tender briefs come in and. It asks about that stuff is brilliant because it means, oh yeah, we can actually.
We’ve got a really good answer for this, and it’s made us stop and think about, oh yeah, all of these things that we’ve done and to yeah, follow that progress, again, without having a strategy in the first place, we didn’t know where we were going with it. Yes. But yeah, I’ve succeeded nonetheless.
Lucy Costelloe: Absolutely. You most definitely have. And again just, and I don’t want to overemphasize or, keep harping on this, the same drum. But again, with the work that you did about questioning the partnerships that you’re working with as well, like you mentioned, you started off, there was no strategy, but now I feel like it really informs who you consider working with and some of the, like the minimum requirements that you might look for yourself in terms of engaging with new new partners as well.
So it has become, from something technically that was an idea that you had, it’s become incrementally strategic for future decisions that you’re making. And then, something [00:24:00] I think that would be great to chat about is this idea of, what is, what’s the current landscape for the sector that that we’re both so passionate about at the moment in terms of, this idea of the big topics, sustainability, EDI, it’s definitely, it’s definitely on agendas, that’s for sure.
And we see it, frequently either from articles that are on arts professional session topics blogs, websites, organizations that are forming. But what is that, that, current landscape piece in terms of, how do we make something an action point? Because I feel we’ve gotten to the stage, it’s really exciting in the sector, we’ve had the tough conversations and now it’s let’s make some action.
And I’m not saying that there isn’t action happening, there is, but it’s just how do we propel the gear there a little bit in terms of what is actually being made
Katie Parry: happen. Yeah, I think some of that is coming from and will increasingly come from things like funders. [00:25:00] Requiring some sort of answer to what are you doing for the environment as part of funding applications.
So there’s a kind of your hands being forced. You’re gonna have to do something. You’re gonna have to say something. You’re gonna have to have some sort of plan, which I think is. it’s good. It’s a positive thing. Although it is scary if you’re not quite sure and if you’re a tiny organization.
Lucy Costelloe: I know, I think for us as well we’ve definitely seen that in terms of sustainability and a really.
I think that’s a big one, particularly within England at the moment is the requirements around accessibility. And that was, that’s a project actually that we internally have been looking at for quite a while. And we’re really excited about some of the development work that we’ve launched to our customers to make sure that we can support them in terms of the WCAG.
2.2 benchmark, but yes, absolutely on that, it’s frequently that I’m speaking with new customers who the first thing that they [00:26:00] need to know is, this, these are what my, I’ve just gained MPO status. I need to make sure I can work with Illuminate. I need to make sure my website hits this.
I also need to make sure that that can you share any information around, your environmental policy? Because I have to share mine as well. And I think. When we are talking about, even smaller teams, or even when it falls within one person on a large team, it’s about how do we move it from writing it on, pen to paper, it’s gone in your application to actually implementing it, that, you’re actioning it as well.
But yes, I have to say there is, there’s a lot of pressure on organizations now to be, pushing themselves and into these big topics. I
Katie Parry: think another topic I’ve got not really much knowledge of, but keep seeing around is. there is more and more scrutiny from the outside of corporate sponsors.
Yes. Thoughts on sustainability and that sort of thing and pressure on organizations, like added pressure, like along with everything else oh my [00:27:00] goodness. One more thing to put on top. But I think we Supercool recently sponsored. The act green 2023 report, which consultants indigo ran and that asked, I think it was something like 17 and a half thousand audience members from various organizations all over the country responded with their views on the climate emergency.
And the role of organized cultural organizations in tackling it. And there’s some really interesting results from that as well as the sort of funding pressure, funders pressure. There’s going to be increasingly pressure from audiences and audience members to be doing something positive and to be sharing it as well.
Definitely. Interesting and tricky and useful and yeah it’s interesting times, [00:28:00] I think.
Lucy Costelloe: Definitely. And I think it just to cause, cause it is now all of a sudden we’re talking about all of the considerations that we need to have. And I’ve just gone back and I’m like, if anyone’s listening, thinking how am I, how are we meant to do it all?
Just going back to your small step example, start with your emails. There we go. We’ve already made the first bit of action from today, and it can be something as simple as putting a quick slide together, sharing with the team and saying, look, this is our responsibility every month in terms of our database.
We’re going to look out for this, we’re going to make sure when our newsletter goes out that the images are this, and also, this will help. with some of the core objectives or, our value piece as well as an organization, because that’s something that I always love to do when I come across a new website is, I straight, I go straight and I try and find their mission.
What are their values? What is their vision? I love the vision section because it’s, it’s always thinking ahead. And again, these big topics very much should be embedded within that vision as well.
Katie Parry: So there’s also something really important about one of the big things that I’ve learned as [00:29:00] someone that’s quite naturally introverted and not necessarily great at sharing with others.
I’ve learned I can’t do it alone and it’s been really good to be sharing it within the team and loads of support from the team and particularly Kate, our strategy director, but yeah, everyone in the team. Like genuinely cares and wants to do more and wants to help. So that sort of getting other people involved is really quite key.
It means you can do more. You get more ideas and yeah, it just spreads the word a bit more. And that was one of the things that sort of struck me. I’ve read someone saying something recently, something along the lines of we don’t need a few people doing all of this stuff perfectly. We need loads of people doing it imperfectly to doing something and that’s quite that kind of stuck with me because I definitely don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.
I’m just having a go and seeing what happens. But [00:30:00] also one of the things that sort of struck me about this whole thing is like from a person, like very personal point of view, really I’m not great with the public speaking and that kind of thing, but this particular subject kind of.
pushed me and made me been off the ego, don’t worry about any of that actually share what we’re doing because some of it might be useful if it’s useful for one person and one person sends hundreds fewer emails then that’s something that’s a good start and then. Once you start making those sort of little changes that are quite easy to implement it starts to build that habit and then you can do more and then actually at some point have some sort of strategy.
Lucy Costelloe: No, absolutely. I have to say, I can see how proud you are. Just the buy in from your team. So you have two very passionate committees now. You have your sustainability working group and your EDI committee. Is that right
Katie Parry: as well? The EDI is about to be. [00:31:00] Launched amazing. That’s not quite set up yet. I think we have used the sustainability working group as a kind of template.
Yes, we’ve been going for about six or seven months now. So that seems to be working pretty well. We’ve got a good sort of setup. So then we can apply that and the inclusion stuff. And yeah, I think because it is scary stuff. It’s also really nice to have other people to talk about things with and share worries with and be yeah, just be part of the whole thing.
It feels more. More cozy, more
Lucy Costelloe: welcoming, more cozy. I love
Katie Parry: that. It’s easy to do when you’re yeah, working towards the same sort of thing. And yeah, the team is brilliant and it’s quite funny. I do, we’re a climate action workforce, which means we for every member of the team.
fund tree planting and support [00:32:00] projects that help the environment every month. So then we get stats each month. This is the project you’ve helped these, this is the number of trees you’ve planted. So yeah, every month I do a drum roll, everyone, this is our latest sustainability stats. And yeah, that leaves it a nice smile on everyone’s faces.
I make a big sort of It kind of jazz hands. I
Lucy Costelloe: love that. I’ll say something actually, another learning that I got from yourself, from speaking just around some of the concerns that I had about trialing something. And if it didn’t work out, would it come back that it looked like, we had gone off totally on, on the wrong foot was this idea of when it is very scary, just calling it out.
I’m a bit scared. And I’ve started to implement that within my team at the moment as well, where, I will, we use, terms like, we’ll say, do you need, do you want do you need some hand holding? But in a really positive way. So for things that, where you have to press the button, it could be a button for [00:33:00] anything, it could be a big email launch, or it could be anything like a submission, or it could be your Arts Council funding or anything.
Thank you. And you, I don’t know how your mind works, but my mind works like this. Okay, so I attached the file, but since I’ve attached the file, my computer has done something, I bet you, and it’s attached the wrong file. So now I need to go back in and triple check the file that I’ve already spent half an hour checking.
And maybe I didn’t, and I worked like this, and I just reach out to one of my colleagues and I say, I’m doing something really scary. That’s can you be my second set of eyes is another one that I like to use. And we’ve really, that’s really become part of our culture as a team.
And working within what we’re doing, we have to be quite creative at times, and sometimes we’re creative and sometimes we think we’re being creative. How other people, view it might be different, but to have that idea of, someone who’s there and your working group is very much like that.
And for me, it’s been something really simple to bring in as well. And, there’s so many ways that you could bring that kind of coziness into the stuff that is scary. Let’s try and make it a little bit more [00:34:00] cozy. I was sitting on Actually a session this week I’m involved with the EDI committee with the Ulster Orchestra.
I have the privilege of working with their board and they had a guest speaker on, Roger Wilson, who was talking about, a big part of looking at equity. inclusivity and diversity is actually creating the safe spaces that, that we need to be able to say, I actually, I realized this is, this is a reoccurring pattern that I think we need to address either within, like your organization’s brochure communications, or it could be anything at all, but to be able to create, once we create that space initially, where people feel that.
They can bring something forward that they can say, look, I’d love to see a change on this. That’s where the magic happens. And it’s your idea, with your steering committees of making it cozy. It’s very space or sorry, very
Katie Parry: safe. I think there’s. It definitely starts much earlier.
One of the things that we’ve done kind of EDI related is making changes to our recruitment process. [00:35:00] So before someone even joins the team, they know that we care about helping them do their best work because of how we set up the recruitment process so that they do their best. We share interview questions in advance.
We really care about the process we go through. We give feedback to people that they need. I haven’t been successful and I think I was talking to someone on the team recently and she said she’d got really emotional when she had come through the recruitment process because it was so kind. Oh, that’s so
Lucy Costelloe: lovely.
Katie Parry: Wow. I’ve had people who’ve seen our job ads, not actually, it’s not been the right role for them, but at least two, I think it might even be three emails I’ve had from people saying I’m not applying for your job. It’s not for me. Your recruitment ad is really good. What? They’ve actually taken the time to say that, which is really nice in some ways, and really sad in others.
Why aren’t all recruitment places like this? It’s not that hard to explain. [00:36:00] This is what will happen. This is what to expect. Here are the questions that you need to ask. You’ll need to answer so you can do your best rather than being put on the spot.
Lucy Costelloe: Yeah, because recruitment is such a large topic and I have seen really great examples, the likes of Nesta, where they have, obviously implemented something online.
And they engage with the third party to make sure that once you’re submitting your application process they’ll ask for certain information. Are you happy to give this are you happy not but also then the rationale The reason we’re looking for this information is because we’re considering implementing like a fair recruitment process but I can imagine, you know implementing something like that is extremely costly, but something as considerate and as human as saying thank you for your CV.
These are the, are you available this date? Also here are the interview questions in advance and you’re sharing that with everyone. That can really change someone’s interviewing experience and what I love to see as well online, which I’ve seen quite a [00:37:00] lot is, making accommodations for are you happy to be online?
Katie Parry: How do you feel about it? Very clear and we make it nice and obvious and we don’t hide it away. If there’s part of the process that you’re unable to do for whatever reason, then let us know, we can make accommodations. I think one of the things we ask for a CV, partly because it’s quite easy for most people to let us know their skills and experience through a CV.
And also a cover letter, which kind of gets more to that sort of human side. What outside of your CV, let us get to know you. Some people supply that as a file or like a word or a PDF file or something. Other people have supplied videos before because that’s been the way that they felt most comfortable and most confident.
And that’s great. And again, that’s that sets the tone right away for being flexible and for being accommodating [00:38:00] and for being supportive and for being open to helping people do their best. And that’s the sort of, I guess that’s the kind of fundamental thing about being inclusive. It’s making sure that everyone can be part of it and feel welcome and feel able to do their best.
Lucy Costelloe: And Katie, I think we’ve come to nearly a natural finish but before I jump in to look at, summarizing what we’ve had a chat about, what would, if you don’t mind me asking, because we’ve done a lot of like kind of reflection and you’re very honest in that you’re, you’re suggesting to listeners be, or don’t be afraid to make mistakes, actually be willing to make mistakes.
Maybe going in saying, Yeah. If we make a mistake, we’ll know, but it’s better than not doing anything at all. Sorry,
Katie Parry: it’s even further than being willing, it’s accepting that you will make a mistake. You will do something and think, oh, maybe I could have done [00:39:00] that differently or just not. So yeah,
Lucy Costelloe: be ready.
Thank you. Thank you for correcting me on that. Yeah, don’t be willing, be ready. Embrace it. But from from looking at everything that’s happening in the sector and internally, and then also like where I suppose where organizations like Supercool and Ticketsolve would sit slightly, very much embedded, but also just on the bridge, say, if we were to look at like nearly like the Venn diagram.
What are some of the biggest mistakes maybe that we can learn from in your opinion? Or what are those, the learnings that, that you’ve seen from your experience?
Katie Parry: I definitely think one of the things is the thing I mentioned before of keeping it siloed. Not to silo things. I, for a long time, kept sustainability and EDI stuff a little bit too much myself.
And I feel like if I had a If we’d have shared that earlier, if we’d have started our working groups earlier, we could have got more done. But, I don’t want to dwell too much on that, but the point [00:40:00] is be open about it and don’t try and do it alone. I think that’s the main thing as well as actually not being afraid to do something.
Something’s probably better than nothing. And if it’s not, you’re going to learn from it anyway.
Lucy Costelloe: Exactly. And I think actually the situation where you’re in. It’s flipped totally on its head where it’s, we’ve done so much had we have started earlier, what could, how much more could we have done, which, it’s actually a very positive outlook rather than thinking, where will I start or if I start today, it’s very much that, like you’re in a situation where you can really look back on, on This map that you’ve created and how it, how all of these different elements have become very much part of the strategy for super cool.
So I think, yeah, I think that’s it’s a really wonderful situation, from my eyes to be in anyway. Yeah, I think
Katie Parry: one of the other things about the making mistakes is to fess up to it. One of the things [00:41:00] that we started doing a couple of years ago was we made a sustainability pledge.
That was my stab at having a strategy, being accountable by publicly saying we’re going to do these things. So we did that, I think it was maybe 2001 or two wrote out a pledge of things we were going to do over the next 12 months. And then 12 months later, I updated that with, here’s what we’ve achieved and here’s what we haven’t.
And here’s why sometimes it’s just cause we haven’t got round to it sometimes because it was more complicated than we expected. So I think again, that sort of openness thing is really important. It’s okay to not get it right. And I’m not an expert. I never will be. I’m not gonna do it perfectly.
And that’s, it’s okay. It is okay, but it’s still a bit, but I think that’s quite a key thing I think is yeah, that openness and also sharing I think we could’ve shared sooner, but it is a scary thing to do in case you it wrong.
Lucy Costelloe: It’s a real [00:42:00] vulnerability, because you are opening up, this is.
This is our perception of the vision of what we’re hoping to achieve ourselves. So thank you so much, Katie, for sharing everything. I might just pinpoint our listeners to some of the very exciting resources as well that I know that they can find. V is super cool. And you had maybe a panel session I believe.
Katie Parry: Yes, I was talking on a panel at something called the Good Agencies Summit, about the same sort of subjects we’ve been talking about, but it’s it’s run by an organization called Agency Hackers, and they are basically a membership organization for other agencies, web agency, design agencies, marketing, PR, SEO.
So it’s about making sure that all of us as agencies are doing our best to be good, decent human folk.
I think that’s one of the things I want to like really stress, do something. It can be really little. Thank you. Thank you. [00:43:00] Use one less image in your next email pronouns in the email footers is a lovely, easy, simple thing to do that makes people feel feel more welcomed and included. Plant a tree to celebrate your next.
milestone birthday. Supercool’s going to be 20 soon, no way!
Lucy Costelloe: 20 years
Katie Parry: young! Oh yeah, definitely.
Lucy Costelloe: Oh my goodness, that’s very exciting. So there’ll be, we’ll have to keep an eye out on what you’ll be planning as part of those special celebrations and just to direct listeners definitely to the newsletter, I would say.
If you’re looking for anything to be condensed, accessible, if you’re just looking to, for a reliable source as well. I think it’s so important when you’re engaging with content as well. You take a lot of time, Katie, in what you share with readers on a monthly basis and it comes across so clear.
So we’d definitely be suggesting and we’ll put maybe a link to sign up to the newsletter. And the [00:44:00] show notes as well. And then, of course, how many pages upon pages of resources are currently?
Katie Parry: There is quite a lot, I think, particularly in terms of digital sustainability. We’ve got a lot of resources on our site and it is specifically aimed at arts and cultural organisations.
So it should possibly, hopefully, be quite helpful to lots of people.
Lucy Costelloe: Absolutely. And again, we’ll include a list I might even probe you for some of the ones that that I found really useful. I actually came across an old one on Twitter. It just reappeared on my thread this morning when I was looking for something and I was like must suggest to Katie that she includes this on the show notes as well.
So we’ll make sure that they’re all there. Katie, thank you so much for. your time, your wisdom, your honesty, your experiences, and just your absolute amazing nature. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of the Arts and Everything in Between. Oh,
Katie Parry: absolute pleasure. Thanks ever so much Lucy.
Lucy Costelloe: This episode of the Arts and Everything in Between podcast is brought to you by [00:45:00] Ticket Solve. We’d love if you would like, subscribe, and share the podcast with your fellow friends. See you at the next episode.
The Art of Inclusion: Harnessing EDI to Strengthen Your Arts and Culture Organisation
Embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion enriches artistic expression and broadens audience engagement, and also ensures that the arts remain relevant, accessible, and representative of our evolving societal landscape. Diverse teams mean diverse perspectives which can drive creativity and innovation. But how can arts organisations get started with EDI in a meaningful way?