Working with Thinking Practice

Dancers holding hands

We think we’re good at putting ideas together in unusual and creative ways, listening, synthesising a lot of data or research, writing things people enjoy reading, sweating the right details, creating positive environments for people to tackle tough choices, delivering on time, and making it enjoyable to work with us. 

More important might be the views of people we’ve worked with.

As Critical Friend to the bait programme Mark asks brilliant questions, providing the perfect balance of support, challenge and humour.  Over the last three years he has worked with staff, consortium board, artists and evaluators, facilitating discussions that get to the heart of what we are trying to achieve.  As well as understanding the specific context and ambitions of our programme, Mark brings a much broader perspective, referencing national and international work that is of relevance to the job in hand.
Rachel Adam, Director, Museums Northumberland bait. (Creative People & Places South East Northumberland)

Mark’s input into Bluecoat’s thinking about our artistic policy and the nature of artistic leadership has been fundamental to getting us to this point – I don’t know anyone else who could have helped us achieve this, putting together input from many voices. He brings a pragmatic, provocative and poetic perspective to every conversation. Also, he’s great fun to work with.
Mary Cloak, Chief Executive, Bluecoat

Mark has worked with Tees Music Alliance on our journey towards greater organisational resilience as we moved through from planning to occupancy of our refurbished venue. Having someone with Mark’s objectivity helped us to recognise our strengths as a team; within the context of some interesting activities to provoke new ideas and challenge our thinking.
Paul Burns, Chief Executive, Tees Music Alliance

The away-day Mark ran for me was brilliantly planned and delivered. It couldn’t have been more valuable and effective.
Daniel Bye, theatre-maker

Thinking Practice were commissioned to carry out some facilitated consultancy sessions with Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens staff, partners and stakeholders to support development plans for the Museum venue.

Mark was highly professional and personable throughout the commission, connecting well with different audiences and adapting his approach to get the very best result.  One of Mark’s greatest attributes is his awareness of the cultural landscape and recognising the challenges which face cultural services today.  He is highly prepared and exceptionally skilled in his craft.
Trina Murphy, Assistant Head of Service (Museums, Heritage and Arts) Sunderland City Council

Mark Robinson is one of those rare thinkers who brings enormous experience, depth of thought, skills and knowledge to the work that he does, as well as empathy (especially with artists) and understanding of what are sometimes non-linear issues. He has contributed to the development of our arts organisation right from the start, helping us to articulate what makes us tick, unravelling the early thinking around the sort of business model we could adopt, and facilitating our dreaming of the future. We continue to commission him to help us to re-examine and redefine our mission and our purpose at regular intervals. He is tremendous fun to work with and brings an air of calm and professionalism to the room.
Cinzia Hardy, Artistic Director, November Club

Mark worked with Red Earth Theatre over a number of months to carry out an evaluation of our work and look at potential models for our new business plan. We appreciated his creative approach to the process and the clarity with which he facilitated sessions for the directors and the Board of Trustees. His ability to guide through questioning and steer the process with a range of activities and approaches meant that this challenging process was stimulating, thought provoking and refreshing. The result of this work is that Red Earth has a strong route map for our next phase of development.
Wendy Rouse and Amanda Wilde, Co-Directors, Red Earth Theatre

Working with Thinking Practise has been an incredibly positive and constructive experience. During a key period of organisational reflection Mark has offered insight, experience and empathy whilst helping us to identify the tools we need to manage our growth.
Nick Malyan, Director, Empty Shop CIC

The care, diligence and nuanced approach that Mark demonstrates and inspires in his practice has brought much valued thinking to the work of ZENDEH our role as facilitators of Creative Case NORTH in evidencing our positive and progressive impact. In addition to this, in my role as Artistic Director (CEO) of ZENDEH I know that my dialogue with Mark horizon scanning will always be fair, open minded and with a keen sense of how it connects locally and globally.
Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh, Artistic Director/CEO, ZENDEH

We worked with Mark on our organisational development planning and on consultations with staff around company change. He was a critical friend to me as we thought through the changes that would strengthen the organisation. Mark brings both theoretical knowledge and years of practical experience of working in and with the cultural sector, and understands the perspectives of stakeholders. But what enhances the experience of working with him the most is his interpersonal skills and his ability to support thinking and to coach change through a considered mix of challenge and support. I always felt working with Mark that I was learning whilst I was working which really adds value to the experience.
Claire Malcolm, Cheif Executive, New Writing North

Mark’s facilitation of our EQiPP sessions, leading cultural organisations and schools in exploring and applying the Quality Principles in their own contexts, has been invaluable. His expertise has gently guided participants into new thinking and into pushing their own work with children and young people forward. Many participants have commented on the way his curation of the sessions has given them the tools and space needed to think and reflect, and this has in turn had a massive impact on the quality of work created during the project as a whole.
Melanie Carter, Culture Bridge North East

We have commissioned Mark over the past couple of years to work with Tyneside Cinema in some very different roles and I’m consistently impressed with his thoughtful approach and the excellent and always insightful end result (and always finished and delivered on time!). His unique combination of extensive experience in the cultural sector with his own artistic practice makes for an intelligent and lateral perspective – making his contribution to a process or project invaluable, whether that be business planning, evaluation or facilitation and beyond.
Holli Keeble, Tyneside Cinema

Mark offered a brilliant combination of big questions, real attention to detail, wise words and gentle encouragement when we needed it. He has helped us articulate who we are and where we’re going as a company more clearly than we’ve ever managed before.
Annie Rigby, Unfolding Theatre

Mark has made a significant contribution to helping develop Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, working with managers to help us shape a new business model, which is fit for purpose, efficient and effective. He has really made a difference in working with groups of managers and helping us develop organisational and funding plans.
Iain Watson
Tyne& Wear Museums & Archives

Mark helped facilitate an important 2 day meeting which brought together some of the most senior people from across different parts of the organisation. There were some big personalities in the room, some coming from very different perspectives, and all very pressured for time. Mark was calm and focused at all times and did a great job at keeping us all in line and on track. I would definitely consider engaging Mark to help guide us through similar planning meetings in the future.
Lisa Phasha
British Council Sub-Sharan Africa

Mark’s lead on the evaluation of the Juice festival was essential in the context of the project. It clearly articulated the achievements of Juice since its initial pilot in 2008 through to 2011. His work and guidance provided a very succinct summary of the impact of Juice, which it is invaluable to have at this critical point in the development of the programme
Carol Bell

Thank you so very much for your contribution to the Colloquium. Many months ago when I emailed you to see if you were available and you were, I literally lept with joy as I had a feeling that snagging a keynote from you, would ensure that I had the Colloquium “in the bag” so to speak – and I was right. I am still hearing from people about how much they appreciated your insights and this framework to help think through change.The twitter feed at #boc2011 was looking all lit up for while too.
Christina Loweon Canada

Mark has delivered two great presentations for the AMA (Arts Marketing Association). Our delegates described his content as ‘creative’, ‘rigorous’, ‘challenging’, and providing much needed ‘articulate common sense’. At our annual conference in 2011, 60% rated the overall impression of his keynote as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. At an AMA Retreat – a leadership residential training programme – 89% rated the overall impression of his session as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
Julie Aldridge
Arts Marketing Association

Mark epitomises the kind of leadership we need in an age of complexity. His ability to encourage everyone to participate meaningfully in the task at hand makes him a brilliant convenor and facilitator. His capacity to reflect creates the conditions for conversations that matter and for wicked problems to be solved and his creative thinking and analytical skills have played a large part in pushing the edges of cultural policy and practice into the 21st century.
Clare Cooper
Mission Models Money

Thinking Practice worked on the business plan for for Live Theatre. The knowledge and experience of Mark Robinson was incredibly useful forming the plan for this social enterprise. Live Theatre couldn’t recommend Thinking Practice more highly for developing strategic perspectives on projects.
Jim Beirne
Live Theatre

I commissioned Mark to write what became ’21 Ways of looking at The Sponsors Club’ because I knew he’d get what we needed to mark our 21st birthday and point to the future. As a self-confessed ‘policy-wonk’ and a published poet, I knew he’d understand the intended audience of partners and stakeholders and that it needed to fit our ‘style’. When the work arrived I loved it, as did our staff, designer and printer. Above all the reaction from our audience has been tremendous. Everyone has said the same thing, the work celebrates The Sponsors Club in the style of The Sponsors Club. Brief fulfilled.
Adam Lopardo
The Sponsors Club