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What we’ve achieved and what we’ve learned during 2018
The Accelerator was officially launched in April 2018 with a team of three (me, engagement lead Ben Whitelaw, and project manager Madalina Ciobanu) all in position by early June 2018. During the first couple of months we had the benefit of summer and, with many people in Europe spending their days out of office and more likely in the sea, we were able to prioritise our efforts to design and develop the details of the programme before starting ‘delivery’ in September.
We have found ourselves hitting the ground running since September, in order to deliver a lot of objectives and achieve significant milestones. And so it feels only right that, a week before I go out of office and fly to summer in the southern hemisphere, I take a moment to share what the team has achieved and learned and how our reflections can help us achieve our goals for next year.
Importantly, I also want to share our processes and approaches to our work, not only to be transparent but so others establishing similar grant programmes can also gain insight and ideas.
We’ve been reminded that we can’t assume or presume anything. We’ve learned to ask people a lot of questions rather than assuming that people will provide us with information that we need.
One particular example was where we didn’t think to ask if anyone needed a visa to attend the October roundtable in Cardiff. And indeed, one participant did and we had to work very quickly to help them attain a visa in time. Subsequently, we included a question about visa requirements in the Open Call application form, so we can be better prepared for the future cohort of grantees.
We’re scaling back on the number of core events that we’re delivering. We originally planned on 10 but we’re now planning for five, with a few prospective smaller and also ‘virtual’ rather than face-to-face events.
We’ve made this change to our programme delivery to better reflect the needs and availability of engaged journalism practitioners. And because our team of three simply doesn’t have the capacity to deliver 10 major events across Europe in 18 months, while we also want to deliver other programme objectives to a great standard.
We’ve used hindsight to our advantage. We were a newly-formed team, running a newly launched programme, in an organisation none of us has worked in before. Navigating our way through the last seven months has inevitably meant a need to use different tools, methods and processes, and also different ways to communicate. Not least because we’re working with colleagues and practitioners across Europe, from different cultures, who speak different languages and work in different time zones.
Therefore, each time we know something hasn’t gone as well as it could, there have been differing expectations, or we’ve missed a deadline, we take the time as a team to have an open discussion, and put in place a plan and actions so we’re more effective for next time.
It’s only as I finish this post that I realise just how much the team has produced in seven months, how we can improve and what we’re excited about for 2019. I think the Accelerator speaks volumes already, and that we are creating something significant, robust and impactful for not only engaged journalism but for wider journalism grant funding and acceleration in Europe. I hope you think the same.
In January, I will be sharing our New Year goals and ways that you can contribute and get more involved with — and get more out of — the Accelerator. Lastly, Ben, Madalina and I wish you a safe and relaxing festive season.