Edition number 40; dateline 6 April 2011
The Leisure Review symposium: buoyed by a new
way of thinking
As editor of The Leisure Review, it fell to me to offer some remarks at the opening and closing of a number of sessions during the inaugural TLR symposium. Apart from demonstrating a little too clearly why I am a writer rather than a speaker, I was also aware that I was using the word ‘buoyed’ rather too liberally whenever I took the floor. I may have tested the patience of a few members of the symposium who noticed but I make no apology; buoyed is how I felt.
This aquatic chirpiness was not solely down to the fact that The Leisure Review symposium had, after more than a year of planning and fretting, arrived and been delivered successfully to the general acclaim of those present. This mood was also attributable to the fact that so many of our most respected colleagues from across the sport, leisure and culture sector had showed themselves to be keen and able to embrace the different way of thinking about the sector that we had sought to offer. In the location, Wadham College, Oxford, and the centrepiece of the programme, The Leisure Review lecture, we had taken a consciously intellectual approach to which we hoped symposium members would respond. That they did so with such enthusiasm and such eagerness was in no small measure down to the gentle elegance of the college and the masterly presentation of our lecturer, Sam Jones. However, it also demonstrated the intelligence, experience and expertise that we had been able to gather even in such difficult times. It is understandable that there were many senior practitioners who had contacted us to tender their apologies but those who had made the trip to Oxford showed a heartening willingness to engage with the sport, leisure and culture sector beyond their own immediate environments, taking their share of the responsibility for steering the sector through such uncertain times.
Throughout the symposium conversation turned to the issue of leadership and symposium members repeatedly expressed their hopes for the newly formed professional body, the Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. Such expressions of faith may have been a little premature given that the organisation had only been scheduled formally to come into being on the symposium’s second day but I would hope that those involved with the new institute will, once appointed, recognise the spirit in which the advice and expectations were offered. If the institute is able to build on the spirit shown by symposium members it should be able to hit the ground running and, given the lurching progress made towards its inception over recent years, no one is under any illusions that this is exactly what it is going to have to do.
For those readers of The Leisure Review who were not able to join us a full review of proceedings is available in this issue. We hope we have managed to capture the feel and flight of the event. We are gratified by the enthusiasm with which symposium members threw themselves into a minimally formatted programme, by the manner in which they responded to the challenges of leadership that emerged and by the general agreement that the symposium should be held in a very similar fashion next year. Our thanks go to everyone who was there, all those who could not be there but offered such support in their absence, and those who responded so positively to requests to put themselves in harm’s way on impromptu panels or as session leaders. Thanks also to First City Events whose attention to detail ensured that we arrived in Oxford in good shape and were then unable to put too many feet wrong.
The debate that took place within the symposium will not stop now that the event has been written up. The Leisure Review symposium communiqué was drawn up by symposium members as an expression of action and intent; you may wish to support some of its aspirations and discuss some of its conclusions via your own networks. This debate on shaping the future of the sector will continue through the pages of The Leisure Review and via The Leisure Review symposium group on LinkedIn. All this will, we hope, support the continuing development of the sector and also serve to set the agenda for next year’s event. Before we left Wadham we took the liberty of making a reservation for 12/13 April next year. Bookings for the symposium, the sequel, are now being taken.
letter from the editor
The Leisure Review editorial