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Swallow A Bicycle

World Café

RVSP By: March 19, 2017

Because we value your perspective and thoughts, Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre would like to invite you to our upcoming World Café, a facilitated discussion about the future of the organization.


Swallow-a-Bicycle is participating in New Pathways for the Arts, a new program for arts and culture organizations in Calgary. The program is supported by Calgary Arts Development and designed and delivered by EmcArts. The program helps organizations like ours strengthen our capacity to adapt in response to the uncertain and increasingly complex challenges facing the nonprofit cultural sector right now.

To learn more about New Pathways for the Arts visit

In the current phase of New Pathways—Incubating Innovation—we have questioned assumptions about how we operate and have developed a draft of new guiding principles for the organization.

Over the next six months, we will run a series of experiments to test these new guiding principles, to see if their application to our operations makes a significant difference. By the end of New Pathways in August, we will decide whether to fully adopt these principles, as affirmed or amended through the experimentation period.

Most of the work in Incubating Innovation has been done by a core team of staff, board members and trusted peers. Now, we are looking to expand the circle, to get feedback on the draft principles from a wide variety of past, present and future stakeholders—including you!

The draft principles are as follows:

  • Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre fearlessly engages with power structures and the status quo. We absorb, interrogate, reflect and defy the patterns of dominant culture. We create productive discomfort, ask provocative questions and hold a mirror up to society. We prioritize the ‘now’ – urgent issues that need agitation.
  • Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre amplifies the voices of outcasts, misfits, diverse communities and artists who face barriers. We hold ourselves accountable for the discomfort we create; to the communities we encounter; to ethical working practices; and to curiosity and learning.
  • We flexibly learn about and engage with different sites and artistic practices. Art is the necessary membrane through which all of the above is achieved.

Your Role

Participants attending the Swallow-a-Bicycle World Café will be expected to engage in a discussion on a key theme or questions based on the above guiding principles. Feedback will be collected through note takers and audio recordings.

We will not attribute particular comments and feedback to individual participants in our notes and recordings; however, due to the nature of a World Café, the process will not be anonymous. A World Café is meant to be participative; you will be guided through a series of four questions designed to draw out your thoughts, assumptions and ideas about our guiding principles. We want to ‘test’ these principles on you! You can expect an interactive evening filled with conversation.

The feedback we receive from the World Café, along with the results of other experiments, will be used to refine and shape the principles. Participants’ feedback will help Swallow-a-Bicycle see if our principles are well-constructed and support the direction that the organization is hoping to explore in the years to come.

All you need to bring is yourself, and a willingness to engage in dialogue!

Promise Back

Feedback from the World Café will be synthesized and compiled into a report, that will be used (along with the results from other experiments) to determine whether the guiding principles will be adopted as-is, amended or abandoned—and in any case, how they can be implemented and affect every aspect of Swallow-a-Bicycle’s operations.

The 10-person Incubating Innovation team, including Swallow-a-Bicycle’s two co-founders, with the support of EmcArts facilitator Liz Dreyer, will review the results of the World Café in May 2017 and may send an e-mail follow-up to participants asking additional questions or for clarification. The team will follow up with all participants in August 2017, to report on the results of all the experiments and Swallow-a-Bicycle’s plans for the future.


Date: Monday, March 20, 2017, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Location: Eau Claire Market, Community Room, Space (B01, Main Floor, 200 Barclay Parade SW)

For more information or to RSVP email Alicia Ward at by Sunday, March 19, 2017.

We will provide a light supper. Please send any dietary restrictions along with your RSVP.

Image - World Cafe promo