CEO Weekly Blog – w/c 11 Feb


In the Office_0.jpg

‘In the Office by Fabric Lenny’


Spreadsheets have been my friend this week, as I have worked on ARC’s budget for 2019/20, ahead of the new financial year. I never underestimate the responsibility that comes with running a charity that receives public funding and work hard to ensure we invest that money to achieve the greatest possible impact. If you are interested in where our income comes from, and how we spend it, I have blogged about that here.

I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy the breath of my job, even when it requires switching between roles very quickly. Wednesday was a good example of this – after an early morning catch-up with ARC’s Operations Director, I headed to Newcastle to meet a delegation of officers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with North East Culture Partnership colleagues. After a conversation about culture, LEPs and Local Industrial Strategies, I spent the afternoon at Alphabetti Theatre, hosting a North East Artist Development Network meeting. These twice-yearly meetings were set up way back in 2012, to try and relieve some of the frustration experienced by artists and programmers – by artists who are trying to get in touch with programmers, and by programmers who are being inundated with information about shows entirely unsuitable for their programme. With more than 50 North East based artists and programmers in the room, it was a wonderful insight into performances that are being made and programmed in our region.

I was struck by the impact that two of the newer Newcastle-based organisations – Alphabetti and Curious Arts – have made on the region’s arts scene. Alphabetti has provided the city with a much needed fringe venue, giving artists and audiences new opportunities to see original work. Curious Arts has provided much needed and visible platforms for the region’s queer artists, both through their annual festival but also through year-round strategic partnerships with arts organisations. Without doubt, the number of LGBTQ artists making work in the region has increased since Curious was founded. The impact of their work, and that of Alphabetti’s, was evidenced on Wednesday by the number of artists in the room citing their support. We are proud to work with Curious as one of ARC’s artistic partners, and have already seen how their experience can help us reach new artists and audiences.

Capturing the breadth of ARC’s activity, and the impact it makes, continues to be a challenge– not least because I tend to be more interested in looking forward than back. Whilst this blog is definitely helping me be a little more reflective, we have been experimenting with other ways of reflecting too. Towards the end of last year, we invited Fabric Lenny to spend a week with us, mapping what he observed in his unique visual style. As a result, we have a set of beautiful images and animations reflecting life at ARC, including the one above. This week, we asked Chris Thorpe to spend some time talking and listening to people in the building – staff, artists, audiences and other customers. Chris has had a long association with ARC, and talking to him on Friday helped crystallise some of the thinking we have been doing about how our community is represented in our building. Here are some of his very special words – I only wish I was as articulate as he is:

“But if I had to say what’s shared here
What the view is so far, it’s the feeling
That this is a place for getting people over things
The hump of a show, the seductive power of loneliness
The sudden end of services, the need for
Something to do with your hands, a story
Or just a place to sit and hum to yourself
While the building hums around you”
Chris Thorpe, February 2019