Report – Make Something Happen (An Open Space Workshop)

Posted on: Tuesday 05 July 2016 7:28pm by Gabrielle Smith

This ‘Open Space’ workshop discussed the prominent issues surrounding inclusivity, and the broader questions of how the potential of creative people is harnessed, included and represented in the wider industry.


  • Delegates used the pioneering ‘Open Space’ method to create their own diversity agenda
  • Working in ‘Open Space’ allows everyone present to bring their personal and professional passions, interests and concerns to the room, whilst encouraging an open, and honest discourse
  • Topics of inclusivity discussed included how to remove labels, creating more inclusive games for children, and creating a more diverse workforce
  • The workshop was specifically designed to address the issues of what you can do for inclusivity in your sector


This Open Space discussion worked on the principles that whoever comes to the session is the right group of people to discuss issues they are passionate about.Make something happen 2

Delegates used Open Space to create their own sessions and panels within the workshop based on the issues they care about within industry, and topics that they deem are worthy of discussion, and change for the future.

Open Space Technology is a method devised by Harrison Owen in 1985 as a way of bringing together the important conversations that happen ‘in-between’ conferences. Realising that the most useful of dialogues can happen in the coffee breaks, this format helps delegates to listen to each other and try to come up with multiple possibilities.

Workshop producer and host Stella Duffy is an award-winning novelist and playwright with over 30 years of experience working in theatre. As the co-director of ‘Fun Palaces‘ (the campaign for engagements in arts and culture for everyone), she also facilitates ‘Open Space’ events, believing we are better led by our passions than working to someone else’s agenda.

In starting the session, delegates were asked to consider the ‘Open Space’ method as a positive way exploring the many-faceted agenda encircling the inclusion and representation of any minority group on children’s media and beyond.

Reflecting on this in larger groups but also as individuals, Stella set up a room that was ready for conversation about serious issues such as: ‘How we remove labels?’, ‘How we can make more inclusive games for children?’, and ‘How we can create a more diverse workforce?’.

Each of the smaller group conversations were captured and recorded by the in-room news team, for the purposes of creating a shareable document (which we will share with you later). Stella noted the motivation of the room as key, highlighting the need for change combined with a clear enthusiasm for what each other is saying in order to take future action.

Stella said that she was “excited by the engagement in the room, not to mention the personal, political and vocational commitment to diversity”, and talked about using the method of ‘Open Space’ as a rarity in the media sector.

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Gabrielle Smith

About the author

Gabrielle Smith

Northumbria University, Ph.D Student

Gabrielle Smith is a second year Ph.D candidate at Northumbria University, Newcastle and is a Film and Television graduate from the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow. Her current research explores the role of the British children’s television presenter. Additionally, Gaby’s passion for working with children and young adults has been… Read more