Found in: What we do
Adult and child stand looking at posters and a welcome sign

Image © Abbi Bayliss 2023. Drawn as part of Studio Susegad Watershed workshop.

Posted by:

Clare Reddington CEO

on Wed 7 June 2023

Packing our rucksack for the next 40 years

Posted on Wed 7 June 2023

Clare Reddington, Watershed's CEO shares our new values created with our communities.

Today (Wed 7 June 2023) is Watershed’s 41 birthday, which means the end of Watershed 40 - a programme of work undertaken with our communities to set our course for the next 40 years.

Our BIG BIRTHDAY year saw some physical changes in the Watershed building designed to brighten things up, share more about what we do and make a clear statement that everyone is welcome at Watershed.  These included the new plants and pictures throughout the Café & Bar and the new toilets.

We had a birthday party and invited everyone - randomly selecting the guest list via a lottery system. We shared memories of the past and hopes for the future.

And we worked with our staff, audiences and partners to update our values and behaviours. With help from the brilliant Upstarter and Studio Susegad we have a new set of values which speak both to the organisation we are, and the one we aspire to be:

  • Inclusive
    We listen to and learn from our community, creating equity and addressing harm where it occurs
  • Transparent
    We share our approach openly and clearly, working at a pace which enables everyone to participate who wishes to
  • Responsible
    We use our resources generously and sustainably, considering our impact on future generations
  • Kind
    We are careful and caring with ourselves and with others
  • Hopeful
    We celebrate culture, creativity and wonder as paths to a better future

This was a new way of working for us - we have always been values led, but usually they are internal tools, created by staff to guide our work. However, it was clear to us that unless our values are also meaningful to audiences, artists and partners, we won't be able to fully commit to them.  

Take being inclusive for example - creating a welcoming venue is not only up to us. Watershed audiences are usually brilliant - they are kind, engaged and thoughtful. However if our audiences aren't also open, kind and inclusive towards others sharing the Watershed space, that welcome can appear hollow. The new values will be written on our walls and incorporated into our staff appraisals. They will guide how we do our jobs and use our resources and we hope you will recognise and commit to them too.

Image © Abbi Bayliss 2023. Drawn as part of Studio Susegad Watershed workshop.

What next?

We knew Watershed 40 would not be a change programme completed by December, but the packing of our rucksack for a new adventure.  Most of our current focus is addressing the challenges in a business model that all cultural organisations are facing due to the continued impact of inflation - which outpaces our ability to match it. We are also starting to think seriously about our creaky heritage building, identifying ways to transform ourselves and the areas around us into climate-safe spaces that showcase sustainable innovation. 

Thank you for travelling with us. Your continued support through these challenging but exciting times means a lot. If you would like to help us further, please do consider investing in the next 40 years by donating to Watershed.

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