CEO Weekly Blog – w/c 20 Jan 2020

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Image by Max Wreford-Sinnott

Last week started with an interview with The Stage – published here – about the Future Arts Centres Here and Now project. I am very proud to work for an arts centre in Stockton – and to be a spokesperson for a truly national project.

And that’s what Here and Now is about. Making sure voices and stories from around the country are heard, reaching out and listening to people who are ‘not the usual’ – one of the project’s core aims.

Wednesday was a rare day out of the office focussing on something not specifically arts-related. Climate change is happening, and we need to do something about it. This year’s North East Culture Partnership annual forum brought together 150 professionals to generate ideas for collective action across the cultural sector. The opening presentation from True North Sustainability’s Anna-Lisa Mills certainly brought home the reality of the emergency we are facing, but it fuelled an energetic day that ultimately felt full of positivity and hope. Providing we act now.

On Thursday night, we were delighted to welcome The Worshipful The Mayor of Stockton on Tees, Councillor Lynn Hall to ARC to watch Full Circle’s performance of In the Middle of Our Street – brilliantly directed by ARC Associate Artist Vici Wreford-Sinnott. The upbeat, visually stunning show was a delight to watch – and also conveys some important messages about independence for disabled people.

Full Circle is our resident learning disabled theatre company, supported by ARC and Little Cog – our relationship dates back 11 years. We have watched their journey from a group of adults accessing day services taking part in drama sessions through to becoming an independent theatre company. The next step is touring as they take In the Middle of Our Street to Arts Centre Washington and the Centre for Excellence in Creative Arts in Hartlepool . The company’s presence makes a vital contribution to the vibrancy and energy that exists at ARC.

I’ve also made time this week to read a new report published by Mark Robinson of Thinking Practice and Creative People and Places (CPP). I’ve often described the Arts Council’s CPP initiative as creating ‘arts centres without buildings’ and Mark’s report on the leadership model that has emerged absolutely chimes with much of our thinking at ARC. Multiplying Leadership in Creative Communities is well worth a read and we will definitely be referring to this in our work over the next few months.