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MEET SVETLANA

Megan Raybould

05 August 2020

Svetlana has been a trustee for Culture& for 7 months. She is also a mentor at Arts Emergency, a member of Museum Detox and works for a global cultural communications company. Svetlana has been working with Culture& to help them adapt and manage the current crisis, as well as experiencing the impact of the crisis in other areas of her life (as we all are). She has kindly shared her experiences of both being a young trustee and a young professional at this time.

Young Trusteeship in the Age of Corona

Passionate about art and culture, I was thrilled when in November last year I was appointed to the board of Culture&, a charity dedicated to diversifying the arts and heritage workforce through public programmes. I am one of two young trustees on what is an inspiring board and as soon as I joined, I have had opportunities to support the much-needed work that Culture& is doing for youth who are working to forge a career in the arts. I advised on the communications strategy for their New Museum School graduation and their monthly newsletter, among other activities.

Little did I know 6 months ago that I would end up fully taking on the role of developing this newsletter myself, providing hands-on support for Culture& during an unpredictable storm. The current situation of COVID-19 has shaken and dismantled our way of life, all sectors of society and our economy. Charities have not been spared by this and are currently rethinking their models and income streams during this difficult time.  However, every adversity presents opportunities for innovation and reinvention.

Having been furloughed due to the current pandemic, I found myself at a loss as to how I would spend this time. As someone who enjoys being busy and working on several projects at a time, I needed to find creative ways to keep myself occupied during what is the new normal of being isolated from family and friends. I needed a new routine, as all the self-care articles have proclaimed. My first instinct was to do an online course via FutureLearn. I had taken two of their courses before and thoroughly enjoyed them so I set myself a new challenge of enrolling in one that would support my personal development as a young trustee.

In the end, I decided to take ‘Effective Fundraising and Leadership in Arts and Culture’ by the University of Leeds. As a young trustee with no prior governance experience, I thought this would be useful in learning in depth about the fundamental role that fundraising plays in ensuring the financial sustainability of a charity. The course was very helpful in learning about fundraising models and how arts and culture organisations can diversify their income streams – a poignant topic given all that we are currently experiencing. Overall, it provided knowledge that will allow me to better support Culture& as a trustee and I look forward to putting it to use in no doubt the near future.

With the course quickly coming to an end, I resumed my brainstorming for ways in which I could keep myself occupied. I then thought that I could reach out to the Culture& team directly to check if I could support with anything and was pleased when they welcomed my help. They offered and I agreed to take over working on their monthly newsletter which I had initially advised on, as the placement for the person who was handling this was coming to an end. Though it may seem like a small task, I am confident it will go a long way in helping the organization to continue to connect with their supporters and friends during a time in which human interaction is now limited to digital greetings.

Working on developing my skills as a young trustee through e-learning and by engaging with the team has allowed me to maintain my positivity and motivation on what tends to be very difficult days, as we learn daily how the virus continues to result in hardship and loss for many. I am excited to be working on the Culture& newsletter and I look forward to continuing to liaise with the team and contributors as I develop content for the coming months.

As we continue to navigate the uncertain waters of the days ahead, I hope that young trustees, if they are able to within their given circumstances, will be encouraged to reach out to their organisations and charities to offer a helping hand.

Thank you Svetlana for sharing your experience around Covid 19. It's a really important topic right now! It's really useful to hear other young people's experiences and about different ways of managing the situation.

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We also asked Svetlana a couple of more general questions about being a trustee:

When you first become a trustee did it take a while to feel confident and to speak out at board meetings?

Thankfully the board was very welcoming and open to my thoughts and questions from the outset. I however did take some time to listen and observe during my first meeting so that I could get a sense of the atmosphere and dynamic.

Finally, what has been the greatest reward from volunteering and being a trustee?

Culture& runs several public programmes including the New Museum School which offers cultural traineeships to young people from diverse backgrounds, providing access to and employment opportunity with the arts. The greatest reward from my role as a trustee has been, to be part of a team that champions this much needed work of increasing diversity in the sector.

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