Answering your questions about RE:SET


Why have you created RE:SET now?

With people across the creative sector struggling with a host of COVID-19 related issues – from financial hardship to coping with the realities of lockdown and the dawning realisation that that it will be months before our sector gets anywhere near back to normal – the need for peer support has arguably never been greater. Those of us in the sector really are all in this together, but – curious and generous as most of us are – together we can also help each other make it through.

We really believe that. Each and everyone of us has a unique ability to help our peers. That’s why we’re doing this now. Our aim is to nurture a stronger peer learning and sharing culture across the creative sector, which can provide regular, ongoing support and connection to individuals now AND as we adjust to other ‘new normals’ post-lockdown.


Who is RE:SET for?

We’ve created RE:SET specifically for artists and creative freelancers or entrepreneurs who are based in England and in need of a bit of additional peer support to help them. If that sounds like you – if you’re feeling a bit isolated, need some help figuring some stuff out, would find it useful to be part of a community of the curious and the generous – then we’d love you to apply.


Do I need any specific experience?

The best action learning sets have a real diversity of experience, expertise and backgrounds across their set members (we’ve worked with everyone from composers to copywriters, digital marketers to circus performers!), so the short answer to this is ‘no’! In fact, we’re hoping that these sets will bring together an incredible mix of curious and generous (those are our two favourite words at the hub) people, whose diversity will create some real ‘light bulb’ moments for each other.


I’m not based in England. Can I apply?

Really sorry folks, but for now RE:SET is only open to people based in England. That’s because the project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. We’d love to do something similar in other parts of the UK or overseas, so if you think you could help us with that, please do get in touch!


Where will we meet?

All our action learning sets will take place on Zoom, so you are welcome to join from anywhere, via your computer, tablet or phone. A few days before each of your set meetings, either Julia or Steve will send you a link to use to join the meeting.

If you’ve not used Zoom before, please don’t worry; it’s really easy to use! (We can send you a simple ‘how to guide’ too if you’d like us to.) It’s probably easier if you download the software onto your computer, tablet or mobile in advance rather than on the day. It’ll take a few minutes at most, and you can do that at https://zoom.us/ OR by downloading the app via your smart phone store.


Will I definitely get a place in a set if I apply? How will you decide who gets a place?

We’re expecting there to be a lot of demand for RE:SET, so we’re really sorry but we can’t guarantee you will get a place. As we’ve said, we’ll be trying to make sure that the sets have a real range of people, with different areas of practice, experience and expertise, and that’s how we’ll make our decisions about set membership. But read on, because if you don’t get a place this time round, we may have a plan B….


If I don’t get a place, is there anything I can do?

Our hope is that people who join the programme will – at the end of it – go on to set up ‘follow on’ sets for other artists and creative freelancers or entrepreneurs. If your application isn’t successful this time around, we’ll make sure that we keep you posted about opportunities to join one of these sets. We’d expect some new of these follow on sets to kick off in early autumn, and others later in the year.


When will I find out?

We’re aiming to get back to everyone by 17 July. To be on the safe side, we’re asking people to pencil in their calendar the dates of any sets they’ve applied to join. The turnaround time between applications closing and our first sets starting is quite short, so this feels like a sensible thing to do!


How do I apply?

You can apply using this simple online APPLICATION FORM. Applications close at midnight on 12 July.


I can’t remember the different types of sets you are offering. Can you remind me? 

Fancy joining a set that meets fortnightly, from the end of July? Check out our fortnightly sets HERE.
Want to meet weekly instead, from September onwards? Check out our weekly sets HERE.
Looking for a more intensive professional development experience? Check out our super sets HERE.


Answering your questions about action learning


I don’t really know what action learning is. Can you tell me a bit more?

Well, there are loads of articles and videos about action learning on the internet, but first up we’d suggest taking a look at the short video we made about RE:SET, as that explains action learning in what we hope is a jargon-free way.

For people new to action learning, we think the easiest way to think about it is to imagine having a brilliant team of inspiring coaches working with you to help you with the big decisions you need to make. Think like that, and you’re in the right ball park.

Action learning brings people together (in groups called ‘sets’) to reflect on the real life professional challenges and opportunities they face. Action learning involves working on real problems, focusing on learning and actually implementing solutions.  It’s not about giving answers, but about helping people to find them themselves, through careful listening, asking open questions and providing thoughtful feedback.

From my own experience, action learning can really stretch your thinking and is great for tackling the isolation that often goes with running your own creative organisation or managing your career – even in normal times, never mind these uniquely challenging times. And it works brilliantly online, using Zoom to bring us together.

Action learning sets tend to have a maximum of 8 people in them, and meet at regular period as agreed by set members, typically for half a day or a whole day. Some sets have a facilitator to support them, while others ‘self-facilitate, meaning that set members take it in turn to facilitate the group’s conversations.

Action learning sits particularly well with people who enjoy peer-based learning, and is increasingly popular in the creative sector, where peer support and being able to critically reflect on your own creative/business practice is key…in normal times, let alone during a period of seismic change like we’re living through now.


You talked about ‘facilitating’ conversations and ‘presenting’. What do you mean by that?

Action learning conversations follow a structure and process that aids reflection and decision making, unlocks action and quickly builds bonds of trust between set members. Your facilitator helps keep conversations on track and running to time. In this programme, you’ll all get the chance to facilitate a conversation, guided and supported by Julia and Steve, who will act as overall facilitators for the set.

‘Presenting’ is what we call it when a set member works on an issue, challenge or opportunity they need help with, by sharing it in a conversation with their fellow set members. We use some time at the start of our set meetings to explore who has an issue they might want to ‘present’ on, and decide between us who will present.


Where does action learning come from?

Action learning was ‘invented’ by Reg Revan, an Olympian and astrophysicist-turned- management consultant. While working as a scientist he noticed how he and his peers would come together to explore each other’s research problems, often unlocking real breakthroughs because of the different points of view, expertise and experience they brough to it. When he moved into management consultancy, he applied the same principles to working with clients such as the National Coal Board (!), measuring their impact by looking at productivity levels and health and safety data. Since then, action learning has been adopted by industries around the world, by companies of all sizes and shapes and by individuals looking for peer support.


I have a different question. What should I do?

First of all, we’re really sorry we’ve not already answered your question! Please do email Julia Payne, who’s heading up this programme, and she’ll get back to you as soon as she can. Her email is [email protected].


Head to our main RE:SET page.