A Life in the Arts

Welcome to this retrospective of my life in the Arts.  Here you will find memories, pictures, momentos and stories of fifty years of arts activities, from childhood theatre to contemporary arts management. My first acting role, in 1969, at the age of 6, was as Jesus, in a Nativity play produced for the Cubs by students at Rose Bruford College of Dramatic Art, and performed in a bower outside Chislehurst parish church. The annual ritual continues there, to this day.

Between 1969 and 1994 I performed in at least one production every year (except 1986 and 87).  My interests as a performer ranged from an early Shakespearean weightiness, through the deliberate gestural language of Gothic melodrama, to the physical theatre choreographies of the modern avant garde. I discovered in 1993 that I have a minor scoliosis in my spine, and shifted my role in theatre off the stage and into the office.

Between 1994 and 1998 I ran Arts Centres for Local Authorities. I was both the community artist and the arbiter of excellence in this role, developing small theatre spaces into specialist homes of new theatre, whilst encouraging the local battle of the bands downstairs, and nurturing new writers and visual artists, whilst serving the needs of the local amateur dramatic societies. I organised and ran festivals, set up and ran a successful club night for the local dance scene, and started creating websites – in 1995.

Tired of the bureacracy of local government, and the punishing hours of venue management, I made a move toward academia in 1998, completing my PhD in late 2003, and was appointed as a Lecturer in the Information Systems Institute, University of Salford, in January 2004.

From the founding of the Company in 1996, I was Chairman of Kaos Theatre UK Ltd, and oversaw its growth from its first, short, small-scale tour, to become one of the select mid-scale companies regarded as a ‘national priority’, an Arts Council of England Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO), and frequently sent overseas by the British Council as an exemplar of British Theatre. In the Spring of 2008 Kaos, amongst 90 odd other companies, fell to the axe of the Arts Council’s night of the long knives, and ceased all theatre activity.

In the Autumn of 2008 I joined the board of Horse and Bamboo Theatre Company, and, in October 2009, became Chairman, helping guide it successfully through the Arts Council’s shift from RFOs to (a fewer, select) National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs). My tenure on the Board finally came to an end in the Summer of 2017.

My only role in the Arts now is as a member of the core Production Team that run the Theatre & Circus Zone at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts, where I have been working since 1989.