Blind Mans Buff and The Heroes Journey – a theory of professional practice

When working as a Producer for research-led projects one of the most difficult things is to bring funders and partners on board to support me. Why? Because I can’t show them a picture of what the outcome will be. Nor can I describe what it will be. Because until the research progresses, there are no knowns. So working with Flow Contemporary Arts is a bit like working with someone from Star Trek – to go Where No One Has Gone Before.

Think of working with Flow Contemporary Arts as joining me on a Heroes Journey. That literary model is very similar to the way a project develops over time. I’ve modified the standard model to use here.

The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development.  It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization. They journey through a special world in search of the elixir. Its stages are:

1.        THE ORDINARY WORLD – is where people don’t take risks, they stay safe, they know where they are going.

2.        THE CALL TO ADVENTURE  – is opening up to possibilities, being drawn to change and new experiences

3.        REFUSAL OF THE CALL – when fear sets in, hesitancy

4.        MEETING WITH THE MENTOR – talking regularly with Flow, having updates, being reassured

5.        CROSSING THE THRESHOLD – signing the contract, providing funding or resources, enabling the journey to truly begin

6.        TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES – identifying the boundaries or blocks along the way, testing the edges, revising the plan if necessary

7.        APPROACH – agreeing the best way forward, together

8.        THE ORDEAL – solving things together, enjoying challenges, staying brave

9.        THE REWARD – the artwork is well under way, the final stages are made clear

10.      THE ROAD BACK – reflection, evaluation and celebrating the achievement

11.     THE RESURRECTION – the assessing and the future planning that is also an outcome

12.       RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR  – the project is launched, shared and enjoyed and the participants are safe and replete

A bit like when playing Blind Mans Buff – partners have to trust me to escort them along the journey safely. I can see the risks along the way – I know them because I’ve been on similar journeys many times before. Each one is different of course, that’s why they are so magical. The outcome will always be like nothing you have ever seen before.

You have to trust me

To make sure you feel safe, we pause along the way, remove your blindfold, show you where we are in the project, what has been done to date and show you where we will go next. You are welcome to be present at every stage of the journey. Indeed, as a partner, this project is as much yours as it is mine and the artists that we work with.

 You are invited to engage

Like perspective, as we get nearer the end of the journey more will be revealed. At every stage along the way you are welcome to make suggestions, ask questions, share stories about the journey.

Back to Blind Mans Buff – there is a choice to be made for the journey – partners can accompany the team all the way, without a blindfold, and contribute and participate actively at every stage. Or they can trust Flow to go through the journey without them.

Either way, you can expect a New World by the end.

Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

One thought on “Blind Mans Buff and The Heroes Journey – a theory of professional practice

  1. Reblogged this on Flow Contemporary Arts and commented:
    This post sparked my imagination in many ways. I have worried whether using the Blind Man’s Buff metaphor is PC, or not. I have considered whether corrupting the Heroes Journey Template is a naughty thing to do, or not. I’d like to know your thoughts on this?


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