"I’m a huge optimist, and I feel like everyone has positive energy to give, some may need more support and time to get there, but I think all people are inherently good"
What do you do?
I mostly think of myself as a theatre maker, but really I just love doing stuff that gives people a platform to grow, develop and make things that make them and others happy. My day job is Programme Manager for the SENsory Atelier at Attenborough Arts Centre which has only really just started and will see me facilitating all kinds of great work with artists, teachers and young people with SEND.
Outside of that I’m Executive Producer for 14/48 UK, which mostly means liaising with people interested in producing the festival and trying to pull in funding and sponsorship, and all of the other random things you find yourself doing for a small thing with big ambitions.
How did you get to where you are?
I did a lot of youth theatre stuff, and kind of thought I’d always go into acting. After lots of failed attempts to get into drama school I went to do a drama degree at Wolverhampton University and loads of good things followed - I met my wife Amy, I made connections that lead to Theatre in Education work, and slowly realised that I would never be satisfied being an actor, I wanted to do to many other things, playing with technology, music, building set, etc…
Any TV or stage work I did just seemed a bit boring compared to working for smaller companies that needed all hands on deck. From there I found a great job at Speakeasy Theatre Company managing projects and developing projects with adults and children with SEND, and then more Project Management at Pedestrian, leading Pedestrian as it’s Director for 4 years, and now my current role at Attenborough.
Why do you love what you do?
People. I’m a huge optimist, and I feel like everyone has positive energy to give, some may need more support and time to get there, but I think all people are inherently good. I think it's why so much of my work has involved developing projects for and with young people, because people are naturally more inclined to give them a chance to develop skills, but I see that same approach having value when working with artists trying to carve their career path.
Everyone just needs a bit of help in believing they have permission to do whatever they want to do, and that their path isn’t going to be the same as anyone else's. Modern life gives us too many opportunities to compare ourselves to others' successes, and anything that helps to ground us in celebrating our own successes is never a bad thing.
Why are you based in Leicester?
I grew up in Stoke-On-Trent and while it has some great cultural offers, I always felt I’d need to move away to pursue a career in the cultural sector. Originally, I moved to Leicester because my wife was from here, and I slowly found all of the great things happening, the mix of different subcultures. I think Leicester is full of so many big and small uniquely interesting and exciting things, and for me and Amy, that’s why something like 14/48 is so exciting. Anything that taps into those existing groups and pulls them together helps the smaller stuff to get a spotlight. I think Leicester is fairly unique in that sense, it’s not a huge city, so everything is on your doorstep really, and it has a great mix of landscapes and cultural scenes to keep you interested.
Well the current Covid-19 situation has meant a lot of our plans for 14/48 have been delayed, but we’ve managed to get a great little live streaming project off the ground very quickly thanks to the power of the community of artists we can tap into.
Currently, we’re producing 2 new short plays each week made in under 24 hours and streamed live via our Facebook page, and we’re looking at how to make this even more ambitious for our May 15th and 16th Leicester festival dates.
My work at Attenborough Arts Centre has also been affected, but luckily the funder Paul Hamlyn is being hugely supportive in allowing us space to review the project plan, giving us time to build the team and knowledge base in a more virtual sense to start with, so I think ultimately the project is looking to benefit from the current delay, as long as it doesn’t go on for too long!
Social media accounts to follow:
Twitter: @1448leicester @bobchrister