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Coaching visits opened ‘a space for dialogue’ in host cities, say city coaches

 

During Culture for Cities and Regions’ ten coaching visits, representatives from cities and regions interested in sharing knowledge and in deepening working relationships with the coached cities or regions formed our pool of coaches. They shared their experience and offered independent support and reflection to the city or region willing carry out changes through the coaching visit process.


As the coaching visits came to an end, we wanted to hear from them on how they think the coaching process was useful for host cities and regions, and what they themselves learned while taking part in these visits.


Coaches were all positively impressed by the nice and hospitable way they were welcomed in host cities. As Susanna Tommila from Espoo puts it, staff in host cities were all “sincere in their willingness to learn and hear from the coaches”. This atmosphere of openness was really an asset for the coaching teams. Coaches were also impressed by host cities’ “discernment that they have to change and strengthen their own management to develop adequate working structures for the upcoming challenges”, says Kurt Eichler from Dortmund.


In the coaches’ opinion, the main impact of the coaching visit is that it provided a space for reflection. Sue Bell from Lincoln explains it this way: “it provided dedicated time and resource for people from the same organisation to talk about these issues, something that they may not have the time to do as part of their daily work”.


Besides, the coaching visit was an opportunity for hosts to reflect on the tools they already had and get ideas from the coaches, as well as discuss and share challenges and solutions directly with their network of cultural stakeholders, sometimes being all in the same room for the first time, as Maria Dias from Lisbon remembers.


For Gillian Easson from Dundee, the coaching visit was also useful for coaches to understand the local and particular history of each host city. Cities in Europe might share similar challenges but they are all unique in their history and journey, and this uniqueness has to be taken into account when advising on future cultural developments.

 

You can read all reports from the coaching visits, including coaches' recommendations, following this link.


Cécile Houpert