I'm not sure how many years ago, but let's say LOTS, Lory Leshin and Ami Hattab (and maybe someone else, but I can't remember?) created a system of artistic coaching to support the Le Rire Medédin clowns. I didn't get the chance to get into the nitty-gritty of how it works (they have a big document and protocols on it) but It loosely involves all of the clowns having the same artistic language and all of the clowns having the right to at least 2 artistic coaching sessions per year. The coaches are clown peers who come and observe hospital days and then write a big report on what they see. The coaches also have coaches. At the heart of it is very practical, tangible artistic support with goals that are clear and achievable. Over the years, Le Rire Medécin coaches have identified and worked on general artistic stuff they felt the whole team could do with focussing on - Indirect Play, Complicité (not always being with conflict in a partnership) and playing High Status in a partnership (as they found that lots of their clowns were avoiding this.)
As part of this process, they have all participated in writing workshops, to help them to reflect on their work and analyse it effectively. I thought this was great! I have found writing to be a really useful way of processing the day artistically, but it isn't everyones cup of tea or comfort zone. It is cool that they got training in this, and that it wasn't taken for granted that everyone could do it already. And I like the emphasis and investment in the importance of reflection and analysis as an artistic learning tool.
Apart from the artistic support that this system offers, what I really love is the rigour that it encourages in each artist. You are expected to have clear goals that you want to achieve artistically. To have these, you have to have thought carefully about how you work and what you do on the floor, how you want to improve. It is totally personal to your own development. I find that it is often the case that after artistic training, or a workshop, we have a boost of creativity and ideas on the floor, but over time, this gradually loses its power, until we have more or less completely forgotten about it. Or I have an idea about what I want to work on, but I don't tell anyone, and if i don't achieve it, it sort of fades away. I think this system of coaching might keep us invigorated, and give us the tools and impetus to take responsibility for ourselves artistically. It strikes me as a really sustainable, targeted and efficient system of creative support.
I also imagine that becoming a coach would be great! We have a rather informal mentoring system at the moment which involves more senior practitioners giving artistic support to newer recruits. This can create an artistic imbalance as well as an imbalance of artistic responsibility in a partnership. It can deplete the more senior clown's artistic and creative juices, and inhibit the growth of the newer clown's artistic and creative juices... There is no escaping the fact that some clowns have more experience than others, and nor should we try to escape that! We can learn loads from them, after all! But they still have the right and necessity to learn and grow as artists. That should never stop. And a healthy clown duo on the floor is an equal one. It seems to me that some form of artistic coaching system might be just the way to keep us all on our creative clown tippy toes.
And a way of keeping those experienced 'dinosaurs' on the floor and working with us forever! Although I wouldn't like to identify the dinosaurs in the Hearts and Minds team...
I am a therapeutic clown and performer. Writing here is part of my wider practice and maybe some of my thoughts will trigger some thoughts of your own and I hope that helps.