As young as the 21st century itself, LEAN has much to be proud of. Over its first decade the organisation has achieved its primary ambition: to establish itself as a sustainable, creative agency supporting the growth of creative partnership working across the borough of Lewisham. This maturation process has seen LEAN move from an unincorporated association run by a part-time freelancer to a company limited by guarantee with charitable status and two part-time permanent members of staff. Turnover of the organisation has increased to an average of £100,000 a year and its local and city-wide profile has become significantly more credible as each year has passed.
Based at the Albany in Deptford since its inception, LEAN has recently taken over larger office space to reflect its increased activity profile. LEAN’s credibility is built on its clarity of mission, its clear understanding of how to assure high quality creative partnership working, and the reliability of its support and brokerage services. LEAN has also been blessed with a committed Company Manager who has worked for the organisation for the majority of its life and an experienced Board of Directors.
Many of LEAN’s achievements have been distinctive, including the publication of an annual journal entitled ‘ CreatED’ ( 2004 to 2008) and the management of innovative educational research, such as the partnership with the PCT and Extended Services entitled ‘Speak Out’ (2007 to 2009). In line with the borough’s visible commitment to giving young people a voice, LEAN has also led on a series of projects designed to develop cultural advocates amongst some of its younger residents.
LEAN’s regular annual programme of training, project management and support has reached diverse target audiences, including artist educators, education professionals, youth workers, HE students and young people of primary and secondary school age. Work has been broad based, encompassing both formal and informal settings and has been commissioned in partnership with a number of different statutory and voluntary agencies.
Over the last ten years Lewisham’s arts education profile has strengthened considerably. The numbers of Artsmark schools has grown. There are annual showcases of achievements in the arts, specialist arts colleges, arts festivals, schools engaging in whole school creative CPD, a portfolio of schools working directly with A New Direction in ‘change’ and ‘enquiry’ modes. Large numbers of artists have been trained with LEAN’s help and many have begun to work in education for the first time with LEAN’s encouragement. Burrow into the majority of the creative enterprises that Lewisham is proud of and you will find a LEAN connection: either serving as catalyst, offering project management, facilitation or operating in key support and communication roles. There has also been a marked increase in invitations for LEAN representation in local strategic forums. Those in a position to invest in infrastructure that builds Lewisham’s capacity to be a creative place to live, work and learn have been quick to see the pivotal position this young company occupies.