Being values-led works twofold for IORA in her songwriting and facilitating

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Being values-led works twofold for freelance facilitator Holly Phelps in her songwriting and facilitating.

Being values-led works twofold for IORA in her songwriting and facilitating
20th October 2022

Being values-led works twofold for freelance facilitator Holly Phelps in her songwriting and facilitating.

How do your personal values influence the decisions you make in your working life? Do they affect what you say yes and no to, and how you interact with others?

We’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, so we caught up with some of the brilliant freelancers within the Brighter Sound community to find out what they had to say on the subject.

Hosted by our colleague and pal Phill Howley, here we check in with freelance facilitator Holly Phelps (who also performs under the name IORA) about how being values-led works twofold in her songwriting and facilitating. 

Read or listen at your leisure!

Phill (P): So values is kind of a massive thing, isn’t it? What does it mean to you if I was to say ‘values’?

Holly (H): To me, values are a guide, both personally and professionally, in how I navigate decisions. Especially as a freelancer accepting different jobs.

P: And what does that look like? I know for me when I started out it was probably more about just having work. And then there was a moment when I started to recognise, oh actually I’m really into what this organisation’s doing. How do values look for you when it comes to decision-making around work?

H: I was 100% the same, I’d just say yes to everything. Just because I was excited to have work, and that someone wanted to work with me. So it’s definitely come in now that I’ve got a few years under my belt in terms of facilitating. And I think it’s looking at both what you need, professionally and development wise, and who you’re actually engaging with. Are you passionate about who you’re engaging with and what’s the work you’ll be doing? And then seeing if that fits. It’s like a bit of a jigsaw really. I now look at it like that. Is it what the organisation wants? The people that we’re working with, is it what they need? And am I the right person for the job? So it’s kind of multi-faceted now in the way that I use it to assess whether I say yes or no.

P: Do you see any crossover in the values you want to represent as an artist, and then those that you want to prioritise and promote as a facilitator?

H: Yeah I would say so, in lots of ways. We’re fortunate that we get to work on lots of different things. Both as artists and then also with other people and their artistic views. Getting people to explore who they are through music. So I suppose at the very heart of that, for me, there’s a vulnerability and honesty thing that’s needed. Because you’re expecting a lot from people when you’re like “right let’s write a song”. In a way you’re saying “bare your soul to me”. Obviously it doesn’t have to be that much, but having the confidence to voice an idea is a level of vulnerability. I think as a facilitator you have to make people feel comfortable to do that. And I think that’s the same when I write a song. Obviously you’ve got to find something that’s interesting and a story worth telling, but there’s a level of vulnerability there. And I suppose just being really authentic in the stuff that you make. So the stuff I make as IORA. But then also I want people to feel like they’ve come out of a session and they’ve been whoever they wanted to be in it. They’ve not had to feel like they’ve been someone else or not been able to express themselves in a way that they wanted to.

P: Amazing. And finally, big question, but what is it that makes you say yes to working with an organisation?

H: So there’s lots of things I now consider when taking on work. And that’s actually through working with good organisations who actually involve you in the dialogue of designing projects and keeping you informed. Rather than it being forced upon you or forced upon participants. It’s much more of a like, let’s co-design this as an organisation, as a practitioner, as a participant. Getting all those voices in the mix from the get go. And also them valuing your time, your perspective on things, what’s important from your side. Even if it’s “can you do that time, yay or nay?”. On a very basic level, people just respecting that you have a life going on as well which is a huge green flag. And an interesting development from that for me has been realising that if people aren’t asking those questions, setting those boundaries for yourself. So that at any point down the line, you can say you did actually flag those things from the start. Not as a protection thing, but more as just a way of working going forward. And working with good organisations has made me now do that with organisations that are maybe less forthcoming with that.

P: Thanks so much! To finish, is there anything you’d like to plug? 

H: I have an EP that’s out called How Did We Get Here?. Phill did the amazing drums on Brother, Sister and Purgatory. There’s also some nice t-shirts, tote bags and CDs and things to check out. And I just love hearing what people are doing, so connect with me on socials at @IORAMusic.


Want to find out more about values?

Check out Balraj Samrai’s perspective

Book onto Tamara Gal-On’s workshop on Wednesday 30 November

Read about Brighter Sound’s approach to embedding values into the organisation