Answering your questions about RE:SET



With people across the creative sector still struggling with a host of COVID-19 related issues – from financial hardship to coping with the realities of another lockdown and the dawning realisation that that it’s STILL going to be months before our sector gets anywhere near back to normal – the need for peer support is perhaps greater than it was even back at the beginning of ‘all this’.

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.

Last year – across the 15 or so action learning sets we facilitated – we saw that time and time again. Set members helped each other find new solutions, new paths, new futures, new hope. Friendship were made, collaborations formed, and most of those sets continue to meet now that we’ve entered a new year.

That’s why we’re doing it all again.

Our aim this time around? To nurture a stronger peer learning and sharing culture across the creative sector, that can provide regular, ongoing support and connection to individuals now AND as we continue to chart a course through ongoing uncertainty and seek to adjust to what a ‘post-pandemic’ creative sector might look like.


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.

In edition #1, our set members came from right across the creative sector – from film makers to composers, theatre directors to technicians. Some were massively experienced, others just starting out on their careers. That diversity is what made each set so special; being in a set where no one is exactly ‘like you’ means you’ll all benefit from each other’s really different perspectives and experiences. That’s why action learning is so powerful at unlocking new insights, creating real ‘lightbulb moments’!


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.

The other thing it’s worth saying here is that very few people who took part in RE:SET last year had any understanding or previous experience of action learning. Most didn’t really know what action learning really is when they started. They simply knew that they were looking for a new, mutually supportive peer network, something that would help them identify new solutions, new paths and new insights.

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!


All our action learning sets will take place on Zoom, so you can join from anywhere, via your computer, tablet or phone. Ideally, you’ll work with each other in gallery view, so that you can all see each other as the conversations unfold. Zoom works really well for action learning, and in some ways, meeting in this way creates an intimacy that sets meeting ‘in real life’ just can’t replicate.

However, we know that some days are tougher than others, and that sometimes Zoom can be a bit too much, So if on some days you feel that you just can’t face another ‘camera on’ moment, it’s fine for you to turn your camera off at different points in the session, maybe even sit a conversation out and just listen. We can work with that. We really wouldn’t want you to miss out on a session because you’re not able to get out of your jim jams. It happens to all of us!


We’re expecting there to be a lot of demand for this edition of 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 some of you 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. That’s already happened with people who took part in Edition #1, and we’re expecting other sets to start up over the coming months.

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 new sets.

When will I find out?

Applications close 28 February, and we’re aiming to get back to everyone by 4 March. 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 28 February.

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

Fancy joining a set that meets fortnightly between March-June? Check out our fortnightly sets HERE.
Want to meet weekly instead, between March-May? Check out our weekly 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.

You could also check out what our 2020 RE:SETTERS have to say about action learning in THIS VIDEO.

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 or advice, but about helping people to find them themselves, through careful listening, asking open questions and providing thoughtful feedback. Your role as a set member is to help your fellow members arrive at solutions and responses that work for them. That’s what it has in common with coaching.


An action learning set is a small peer coaching group, normally made up of 8 people who meet regularly to help each other untangle and solve problems, explore opportunities and identify new possibilities. 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.

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

Action learning isn’t just about having a good chat with some nice people who ‘get it’. 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 Fiona and Steve, who will act as overall facilitators and guides 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.


Each set meets for 3 hours, which normally allows time for 2 action learning conversations to happen. We start each session by ‘reporting in’, letting each other know what’s new for us, what’s changed since last time and if there’s anything we need to leave outside the room. Next up, we go round the group to see who has something they might want help with in the session, and then between us we decide which topics we’re going to focus on. It’s all very democratic!

Each action learning conversation starts with the person whose topic/issue it is presenting on it, normally for around 5-10 minutes. You don’t need to prepare in any way, know exactly what you’re going to say, or have it all neat in your mind. If you did, then the chances are you wouldn’t need help with it!

After a few clarifying questions to make sure we really understand the facts of the matter, we move into the ‘open question’ part of the conversation. This is where your other set members will ask you questions that will help you move your forward thinking. We’re not allowed to give you advice at this point – which can be really hard – as the whole point is to help you arrive at your own conclusions.

Once we’ve done that for a while, the facilitator will help you identify some actions you want to take as a result of the conversation. And then we round off with a time for reflections, where your fellow set members will share their observations and encouragements, and everyone also shares what they’re taking from the conversation.

In most session the group will have 2 conversations, on either side of a tea/coffee/lunch/biscuit/fresh air break.

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 julia@thehubuk.com.


Fancy joining a set that meets fortnightly, from March-June? Check out our fortnightly sets HERE.
Want to meet weekly instead, from March-May? Check out our weekly sets HERE.
Want to know what Edition#1 RE:SETTERS  think? Watch our participant video HERE.
Head back to the main RE:SET page.