Action Learning Sets 2020

Action Learning Sets

Jazz sector's action learning programme: free group coaching to help you weather the pandemic storm.

With those working across the jazz sector struggling to make sense of how we’ll live and make a living while Covid-19 continues to make its impact felt on our daily lives, the need for peer support has arguably never been greater. That’s why – in partnership with Jazz South – we’re really excited to be launching a new virtual action learning programme for those working in the jazz sector. This initial Action Learning programme in partnership is open to the Jazz Sector in the South of England (outside of London). You can see what areas this covers here. We hope to expand the opportunity for action learning support to other areas of the UK soon.

Imagine having a team of brilliant inspiring coaches

and you’re in the right ballpark

So, what is action learning, and why will you find it useful?

Imagine having a team of brilliant, inspiring coaches – working with you to help you with the big decisions you need to make – and you’re in the right ball park. Sounds great, right? That’s what you’ll get if you join our new virtual action learning programme – that, and the chance to develop some new facilitation skills too.

Action learning involves working on real problems, focusing on learning and actually implementing solutions. It can really stretch your thinking and is great for tackling the isolation that can go with being an independent promoter or the only jazzer in town – even in normal times, never mind these uniquely challenging times. And it works brilliantly online, using Zoom to bring peers together.

What’s the story with this programme?

When’s it happening?

We’ve teamed up with our friends at the hub to deliver this programme. Through it, 8 people working within the jazz sector will have the chance to come together as part of a new action learning set, to help each other develop new insights, plans and understanding that will help you all weather the ongoing Covid 19 storm. You’ll also receive support to set up their own follow up action learning sets with other people from across the sector later in the year. By the end of 2020, we hope that plans will be in train to provide action learning support for a further 60+ people – artists, managers, label reps and more.

The deadline to apply is 14 October, and you can do so by completing this simple application form.

When’s it happening, and who’s involved?

Our initial action learning set will meet weekly on Zoom, on Thursdays (generally 10am-1pm) between 5 November and 7 January (with a break for Christmas). Each session will be led by the hub’s Director, Julia Payne, who’s run sets for hundreds of creatives and artists up and down the country – from promoters and producers to illustrators, composers, copywriters and even acrobats – and is currently heading up the hub’s Covid-response national action learning programme, funded by Arts Council England. Here’s what she has to say about action learning:

“For me, being part of an action learning set has been the single most useful investment I’ve made in my professional development in the past decade, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Since training as an action learning facilitator a decade ago I’ve seen over and over again, how it supports set members to unlock really powerful reflection, decision making and action – true lightbulb moments’ – and have seen set members increase their confidence and resilience. It’s incredible how quickly bonds of trust and relationships develop, and I love how everyone leaves each session with new energy and resolve. 

I think the key to action learning’s success in our sector is that action learning sets provide a structured process for reflecting on experience with a group of peers. It’s not about giving answers, but about helping people to find them themselves, through careful listening, asking open questions and providing thoughtful feedback.” 

So, how does action learning work, and what will you actually do?!

Watch our video and join our Zoom session…

To get you more inside how action learning works, the hub has put together this short video about exactly that. It’s just over 2 mins long, but should give you a really good idea of what to expect.

Julia will also be joining JPN’s Lucy Woolley and Jazz South’s Tamsin Mendelsohn for a Zoom Q&A on 8 October (10-11am), where she’ll be talking about how action learning works and can be useful for promoters and anyone working within the jazz sector. To sign up for that Q&A event, head HERE

What will I get from taking part?

Loads. But if you want the long answer…Across your 8 set meetings, you’ll get inside how action learning works, present about your own challenges, opportunities and dilemmas, help your fellow set members unlock their own new insights, and learn about how to become an action learning facilitator yourself. Through taking part you’ll gain…

  • New insights and solutions
  • A new peer network – a go to bunch of peers you can trust to help you fathom stuff out
  • New skills that will help you develop your business and career
  • The knowledge, experience and confidence to set up your own action learning set

So if you could do with some support yourself to chart a new course, make some good decisions or just explore the future – and would also like to develop new skills to go on to support other artists and promoters – this could be for you! 

How much will it cost to take part?

Nothing! The programme is fully funded, thanks to national lottery support through Arts Council England.  All we ask is that you commit to taking part in all of your ‘set’ meetings, so that you and your fellow members get the most from the experience, and that – if you decide action learning is for you – you’ll have a go at setting up your own follow on set afterwards. 

The deadline to apply is 14 October, so how do I find out more or apply

To apply, all you need to do is complete this really simple application by midnight on 14 October. It’ll take about 5-10 minutes, and should be easy to do. Any questions, do email Lucy at: And don’t forget the Zoom Q&A session on 8 October (10-11am). To sign up for that event, head HERE

Written by Julia Payne