My role today is the same as it has always been – to produce ground breaking work that invites people to collaborate, or connect, or celebrate, in new ways – and to surprise themselves in the process.
As we’re a company that has an insatiable appetite for creative risk, I’m always looking at ways in which we can challenge ideas and bring about new and exciting ways of telling a great story.
It started with a boat
‘If you don’t ask you don’t get’. On reflection, perhaps our most daring production was our initial business plan to persuade a bank, at the depths of the 1990s recession, to lend us money to convert a Norwegian ferry into a touring theatre ship. Against the odds not only did we pull it off but we proved to ourselves and our backers that there was a real and lasting demand for imaginative theatre for the people in communities across the British Isles.
16 years on the seas brought us to thousands of people and places around the UK before we finally dropped anchor and said goodbye to the Fitzcarraldo. The ship is now part of our collective history and as we approach our 25th anniversary, the journey I started in 1992 reaches it next chapter with our new outdoor arts centre in Salford.
John (co-founder) and I continue to have the same taste for adventure and a compelling urge to engage as many people in the sheer thrill of creating and making something incredible through the full spectrum of outdoor arts. Here’s some of my work:
- Creative Director for Ar Waith Ar Daith, 2015 for Wales Millennium Centre’s tenth anniversary finale, broadcast live across Wales and performed to an audience of 12,000 people in Cardiff Bay.
- Creative Producer for Manchester Day Parade, an annual street-wide celebration of all things Mancunian.
- Running outdoor arts creative practitioner training, most recently in Wales (linked to Ar Waith Ar Daith), and Nigeria as part of the Creative Cities programme for the British Council.
- Programmed performance for Festival No6 in Wales, (voted Best New Festival 2012 – UK Event Awards).
- Led Walk the Plank’s team as Artistic Directors for Hull’s Freedom Festival, 2013-15.
- Executive Producer for Cast the Light, part of Manchester’s Diwali celebrations in partnership with the Indian Association Manchester.
I love working on projects that have participation and collaboration at their heart, particularly when we build in learning programmes that help nurture new talent. Following our digital cauldron, created for Ar Waith Ar Daith, which connected artists in remote parts of Wales with the Wales Millennium Centre, I also have a growing interest in the power of digital technologies to engage geographically dispersed communities or artists to collaborate on projects or share knowledge.
What I do I get up to outside work?
Although Walk the Plank is no longer at sea, boating remains very much part of life away from the office. I have sturdy sea legs, have never been sea sick and I’m the only member of Walk the Plank’s core staff to hold an Efficient Deck Hand ticket! International assignments with the British Council refresh my perspective on the wider cultural landscapes and quench my globe trotting wanderlust. Why not take a look at my blog about arts and culture in Ukraine?