John Kirby

"What kept me here was the people, because those that I've met and stayed friends with are completely unique to Leicester"

What do you do?

I am the Programmer at Attenborough Arts Centre, which sounds more technology based than it really is. In short, against a load of different priorities I book shows, which covers live music, spoken word, dance, comedy, theatre. It’s an interesting job where no two days are genuinely the same, which I enjoy.

I'm also one of the three Producers on Wrestling Resurgence which has been running now since November 2017. Our collective job is simply to put on high quality wrestling shows in arts venues, which is where the art form deserves to be. Next show will hopefully be Drama Abuse at Nottingham Contemporary on Saturday 20 June, then back in Leicester late August. We have a great team of artists and academics within our team which I’m really proud of. I know there are a lot of turned up noses at wrestling, always try it live before you judge it. There's loads of good content on our YouTube page!

How did you get to where you are?

So, I went to an all-boys school up to GCSEs, then I moved to an all-girls school for A-Levels. That was because if I stayed where I was I’d be forced to do maths, economics and physics. I wanted to do something as close to the arts as possible without being creative, so I did History of Art at A-Level, loved it and did it for my degree at DMU. Leicester at the time was the furthest north I could imagine living really. Then I kind of fell into a temp job at The City Gallery, temped for 4 years, then the temp job became permanent and I just ended up staying more by chance than anything else. I moved from The City Gallery to AAC in 2011, and have been doing more of the performing arts side of things now since about 2014. All has been by luck more than anything that has left me with a feeling of impostor syndrome wherever I’ve gone!

Why do you love what you do?

The enjoyment I get from my role at Attenborough Arts Centre is from the people I get to work with. Helping members of the team or visiting artists achieve what they set out is the most rewarding part of my day to day job.

With regards to wrestling, it’s very similar. Getting to be a part of other people's ambitions and achievements is the bit that makes me feel most fulfilled.

Why are you based in Leicester?

When I moved to Leicester my original plan was to work at Turner Contemporary in Margate. The original completion date for that was 2004, it eventually opened in 2011, so I was at a bit of a loose end and just hung around. What kept me here was the people, because those that I've met and stayed friends with are completely unique to Leicester.

What next?

It's an odd time because a lot of the stuff I was excited for now isn't happening for the foreseeable, so I’m hoping if I say come to the wrestling on 29 August in Leicester that's far enough away to hope it’s still going to happen. I'm always happy to have a non-committal chat over a tea if you think I can support your work in any way. I might not have the answers, but I might know someone who might!

Social media accounts to follow:

Facebook: Give Resurgence and / or AAC a follow on here.

Twitter: @MrJohnKirby / @W_Resurgence / @AttenboroughAC

Instagram: @W_Resurgence / @AttenboroughAC