Supporting ongoing change within England’s leading performing arts companies

Advance Network

Responding to a desire expressed by many of the Advance organisations to continue working with Tonic and with one another after completion of the Advance programme, we created the Advance Network.

Delivered between 2018 and 2022, the Network was a Tonic-led programme of ongoing group training, workshops, discussion, networking events and one-to-one consultancy which supported members across the breadth of their work on equality, diversity and inclusion. Over the four-and-a-half year duration of the programme, we delivered dozens of events, digital and in person, for Network members across the country. 

Topics covered in sessions included succession planning; building strong and successful staff EDI forums and working groups; creating Equality Action Plans; Intersectionality and Privilege; Managing Change; Employee Journey Mapping. 

Working on a multi-year basis enabled us to keep the focus of sessions topical and responsive to the shifting needs of member organisations. Sessions prompted by the events of 2020 onwards included those on supporting staff through working from home and when returning from furlough; more effective ways of working with freelancers; and having constructive and sensitive conversations about race. During the pandemic the Network increased its focus on being a peer support mechanism, providing a sense of community, mutual support and shared learning in a lonely, challenging and volatile period.

“Being part of the Tonic Advance Network allows me the time and space to reflect on progress and discuss future opportunities and challenges with peers. The sessions are always led with integrity, compassion and respect for the topics discussed, and the people in the room – and ultimately lead to manageable and meaningful progress for our organisation.”

Leanne Kirkham, Director of Learning, Northern Ballet
workshop participants in a group discussion
Tonic Advance Network workshop, Umbrella Rooms, 2019. Photo by Stephen Wright.

Photos by Stephen Wright and Tom Lovatt

“I’ve found the Advance Network sessions really useful – they are always thoughtful and reflective and a chance to step away for a moment to give proper time and consideration to a wide range of important issues.”

Deborah Rees, Director, Cast

Tonic – For greater equality, diversity and inclusion in the arts