This paper introduces the ideas of “slow” to recruitment, participation, partnership and leadership with suggestions for practical implementation.

When was your last busy day? Was it a day packed with more activity than usual? Or a day or a set of days when there was much to be done, that left you feeling shattered, worn out, stressed? A continual stream of busy days can become problematic, as judgement is clouded, loud voices and fast thinkers are favoured; people can feel overlooked or under-appreciated, and new ideas can be in danger of being under-explored.


There is a lot to do in the arts and culture sector: activity strands evolve and expand, and increasing inclusion and engagement are priorities. It is now necessary for cultural leaders to maintain or increase quality and delivery with less public funding, whilst developing other sources of revenue from partnerships and earned income. Cultural teams simultaneously work to mission statements and values, aims and objectives, whilst also upholding service standards.

The word “slow” has been used as a derogatory term, describing someone’s lack of skill or aptitude, someone sluggish or plodding. Slow can be considered to be lethargic, half-hearted, dull, perhaps unspectacular, the very opposite of what leadership is projected to be. I would like to reclaim slow as a positive term that facilitates greater inclusion, reflection and considered action in cultural leadership – in fact leadership in any sector. Slow means to be unhurried, measured and moderate. Working with slow could be more deliberate, steady and sedate. What is wrong with being slow-moving? What if slow, being slow, facilitating slow, accepting of slow, were considered a strong facet of leadership? What if slowing down was considered to be a leadership approach and a skill to be admired?

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Luke Davies