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Animated Edition - Autumn 2005
Relocation, relocation, relocation
To relocate or not to relocate, says June Gamble, is often the question - and through her experience as a life and business coach, offers some thoughts about deciding whether to make the move
Having spent a week at home watching many of the property programmes on daytime television and as an ex-estate agent (for eight months after graduating), I feel inspired to consider this question. Also, having personally relocated from London to Plymouth five years ago, and as a life and business coach, I believe that I am qualified to consider this question.

It seems to me that artists generally locate themselves in the place where they have trained, or they return to their hometown or they move to start their first professional full time job. Of course, there are exceptions to this: some people, having completed their training, immediately seek out the challenge of change - a new job, a new location, a new life.

Those that stay where they have trained or return home often do so to make the most of the professional and personal links and connections that they have already made over the years, in the area of work that they wish to develop - as a professional dancer, teacher, community dance development worker, choreographer etc. It is easier to be a big fish in a small pond than it is to be a small fish in a big pond. After a few years as a practicing artist in a particular location, people often either decide that there is little or no opportunity for them to develop their work or they get bored of being the big fish and so look for a new pond. Some artists might continue to swim from challenge to challenge, whilst others will settle down and grow bigger in their chosen place.

Our sense of where we should be located can also change as a result of relationships with friends, family and partners. Should we move for our partners work, should we move to develop our own work, should we move because all of our friends have relocated to the country or should we move out of the city in order to raise a family? Note here the word 'should'. In coaching we recognise that usually when someone uses 'should' it is because they think someone else or others think that they 'should' be doing something else. It provides a clear indication that the coachee probably believes or thinks something else. So, it is important that any decision to move is based on what you want, as well as the wishes of others involved.

So, during the life of an artist, there can be several times and reasons to consider whether or not to relocate and it is important at these times to seriously think about why you are moving, where you want to move to and why you want to move there. This calls for some proper, rational thinking and reflecting.

During the past couple of years, in my role as guest deliverer of one to one sessions for Artist Development at The Place, I have noticed that more and more dance artists are considering relocating. My first question to them is always WHY? And, usually, I receive one of two answers: for personal reasons or to be better positioned to benefit from Arts Council funding.

Let me look at both of these reasons. As a life coach, the first reason is always the most interesting for me, as the individual has already identified that their life is out of balance and they consider that they would personally benefit from relocating. If you are in this position, then I would suggest that you look at the exercises below to help you decide where you would like to move.

Firstly, it is a good idea to complete a Life Chart in order to gain a clear visual image of how balanced you consider your life to be at this point in time. The process of thinking through each major area of your life and judging how you feel about it will present you with insights into what, if any, changes you would like to make in your life.

Even if you have done this before, it will be beneficial to revisit it, so using the Life Chart below circle the appropriate number between one and ten with regard to how you feel about each area of your life, at this point in time. People often ask me to clarify this question: how should I interpret low/high? Does it refer to feeling good/bad about my health, or is it about my health being important/unimportant to me, or is it about how much it actually features in my life, e.g. lots/none?

The answer is that all of these interpretations are relevant and you must decide for yourself as to the basis of your response, which will depend on how you are feeling generally about your life. So, for example, if you know your health is currently bad, and it is important to you but you don't invest much time in it, you may give yourself a score of 3 - revealing that this is an area of your life you want to work on urgently. When you review your Life Chart a few months later, you will hopefully feel confident enough to score an 8 or 9, because you will have taken the necessary action to improve how you feel about your health.

LIFE CHART

Low
High
Health 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Spiritual/religious life 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Work/career
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Financial
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Personal relationships 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Family/extended family 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Friends/social life
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Ideally, if you joined your scores up in a vertical line, it would be straight (10's all the way!) However, realistically, it will be between a wiggly line and a very zig-zaggy lightning strike.

If you are happy with the balance then you are probably not thinking about moving. However, if you feel that there is more than one area of your life that scores lower than you would like, you will either decide that you can improve these scores by setting and achieving goals that will help you to find the balance that you want whilst remaining in your current location, or that you could improve these scores by relocating. The next step is to check your Values Profile.

First of all, circle the values that relate to you (feel free to add any that are not on this list). Then, number in order of priority your top five values.

VALUES PROFILE
Achievement Freedom Justice Security
Adventure Growth Kindness Self discipline
Beauty Happiness Knowledge Self esteem
Charity Health Leadership Service
Community Honesty Love Spirituality
Creativity Honour Peace Strength
Dignity Humility Power Supportiveness
Ethics Independence Pride Surrender
Family Individuality Reason Trust
Friendship Integrity Respect Truth
Fun Intimacy Risk Wisdom

Once you have identified the values that are important to you at this point in time, as well as the areas of your Life Chart that you wish to develop, and you decide that you do wish to relocate, then this will help you to consider your requirements for your new home.

As any estate agent will tell you, the most important thing to consider when moving is location, location, location. Your first location to identify is your home: what are your 'must haves' in your new home - garden, space to work from, large kitchen? Your second location to think about is the city, town or village that you want to live in: what amenities will be important to you - transport links, shops, post office? The remaining location to ponder is the region that you want to live in and what you want it to offer - sea, walking opportunities, artistic communities?
Once you have your three location lists, you may want to fine tune them to three priorities for each location (home, town, region), checking that they are in line with your desire to develop certain aspects of your life and that they sit comfortably with your current values. This should then help you to decide on one or more possible places for you to move to.

From a personal point of view, my relocation to Plymouth five years ago was as a result of me going through the above process over a considerable period of time. My home priorities were to be able to work from home, to have a garden and a nice dining room. I knew that I wanted to move back to Plymouth to be near to family, friends and godchildren (in line with my reassessed values and to improve my social life and health). Finally, I knew that Devon would offer me the sea and the moors and easy access to London and abroad (regional airports), Cornwall and other beautiful locations in the South West.

At that point in time, my career and work were not priorities. This was mainly because I had prioritised them for the past ten years and I knew that if I was going to develop the 'low' areas of my Life Chart then I needed to have new priorities: health, family, friends, godchildren and work/life balance.

However, as often happens for my clients when they start to improve their balance, the area(s) that they deliberately do not prioritise also change. So, when I moved, I only had two dance management clients and I was ready to work in Waitrose or Woolworths if that was what it took to live in Plymouth. Well, to date, I haven't had to do this, as within weeks and months of me moving, I was offered various training contracts in London that I am convinced would not have emerged if I had stayed in London.

Subsequently, I was also offered work for Swindon Dance, Dance North West and Dance South West. It was also during this time that I decided to retrain as a life and business coach. So, the moral to this story is that focussing on what you really need as a human being can benefit all areas of your life. If you are scared that moving away from your current location and moving for personal reasons will damage your work life, please believe me when I say my own experience - and that of my clients who have relocated - is that a move for personal reasons can often improve and develop your career in ways that you would not have imagined. So, in these circumstances, my advice would be to relocate!

Where clients tell me that they are considering relocating because by doing so they would be able to secure more funding from the Arts Council, I ask them why they think this is the case. In April 2003, the Arts Council changed their process of application, so that applicants now apply to the region in which they live, rather than the region(s) in which their project is based. Historically, project funded companies such as Bedlam and Sankalpam had survived financially by cultivating regional partners and applying to several regions for the various elements of each project. The new process means that although regional partnerships are still encouraged, applicants still apply to, and liase with, one office and one officer.

Consequently, London-based artists find themselves with enormous competition and no opportunity to spread the cost of their work across regions, whilst those in the regions who have historically been overlooked, have begun to receive realistic funding for their projects. As a result, some artists based in London and particular regions consider that it would be more beneficial to physically move into a region that appears to be giving out more money. For example, several artists have told me that they wish to move to the West country as Arts Council South West is giving lots of money to dancers/choreographers. It is true that several dance artists are receiving funding in the South West. However, this follows a long and severe drought; many of the artists that are now benefiting have been based and working in the South West with little or no funding for a very long time.

Similarly, I am aware that where it appears that an Arts Council Dance Officer is empathetic and proactive, this then becomes the location to aim for. What happens when that officer moves within the Arts Council or decides to leave the organisation - do you move to the next "best" region? The current funding system offers a 50/50 chance of success for any applicant, so on this basis it could be said that you have the same level of opportunity wherever you live, particularly as any applications for national projects will be sent to Head Office in London and the various regional offices involved before a final decision is made in the region of application.

So, to uproot yourself and possibly others for your perceived career development, with no guarantees of funding or support and with the possibility of upsetting the local artists does not feel like a considered, balanced or healthy option. Under these circumstances, my advice would be to not relocate but to go back to the beginning of this article and seriously look at your Life Chart and Values Profile before making any life changing decisions for the sake of your career.

If you do decide to relocate to a new village, town, city or country, then it is a good idea to research your professional competition and to identify potential gaps that you may be able to fill, as well as gathering information about people you may wish to contact prior to your move to discuss your work and the possible opportunities for you in the area to which you are about to move.

It is also a good idea to consider commuting possibilities. For example, I may have found my 'Place in the Sun' (when it is not raining) but a third of my work happens in London, so I take a lovely relaxing train journey every other week for nine months of the year. Despite the fact that I decided not to be a professional dancer because I didn't want to tour, I now spend half my time travelling to London, Birmingham, the North West, Swindon and various places in the West country. However, this suits my new life and has benefited my work. With modern technology and communication systems, you really can live in one place and work in another. It does require you to be strict about your time management on a daily, weekly and monthly basis but it is possible and very enjoyable, as it means that you get the best of both worlds.

If having read this article you are tempted to review your situation and consider relocating, apart from some of the exercises that I have offered and watching the numerous relocation television programmes, I would suggest that you identify a "buddy" to talk things over with, talk to other dance practitioners that have made a move and ask them about their experience, buy a life coaching book and spend time working through it as a way of helping you to make your decision or, work with a life coach.

Whatever you decide, good luck, enjoy the process and trust that change can produce exciting challenges and opportunities, both personally and professionally.

June Gamble is a freelance Arts Management Consultant and a qualified and supervised Life and Business Coach who currently is Development Coordinator for Sankalpam and Tour Coordinator for Niki McCretton. She also delivers training for IDMN, Dance South West, Swindon Dance, East London Dance, Dance North West and The Place Artist Development.

If you would like to contact June about Life Coaching, please email her at junegamble.lifecoach@blueyonder.co.uk

If you would like information about Life Coaches in your area, check out Yellow Pages and/or www.associationforcoaching.com

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Animated: Autumn 2005