Metal is a program started by Jude Kelley in London in 2000 as a place for creative exchange between artists. Currently there are two Metal bases in Liverpool in northwestern England and Southend-on-Sea in eastern England. The programme’s aim is to use creative ideas to help enrich the lives of the citizens by pursuing projects in the areas of urban restoration/renewal, economic sustainability and environmental issues. The program also maintains facilities for long-term residency to enable artists to continue to study and work in a conductive environment.
Located on the south bank of the Thames River in London, Southbank Centre is one of the world’s largest comprehensive arts and culture facility complexes including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Hayward Gallery, Saison Poetry Library, Purcell Room and more. The history of Southbank Centre goes back to the Festival of Britain in 1951 and today it presents a high varied programme of performances in classical music, world music, rock, jazz, dance, theatre and art exhibitions.
The Creative Partnerships is a programme that aims to bring about significant changes in school education through creativity. It was launched on an experimental basis in 2002 in 16 districts around the country. Through partnerships between schools and culture/arts facilities, arts companies/organizations and artists, the programme seeks to bring highly creative activities into the school curriculum in order to boost student ethos, ambition and academic achievement and provide fundamental skills necessary for work in the creative industries.
|As Artistic Director of the UK’s leading comprehensive arts facility; Southbank Centre, and founder of METAL Culture, a studio centre for artistic exchange between creators, Jude Kelly is an influential figure in today’s British arts world. After beginning her career in theatre directing, Kelly became known as a promoter of community theatre due to her community-based theatre activities at the Battersea Arts Centre and West Yorkshire Playhouse. In recent years she has been active in launching the government’s progressive arts education project “Creative Partnerships” and she was involved with the arts, education and culture committee for the 2012 London Olympics. This long interview explores the roles and ideas of this key person in British arts and cultural policymaking.
(Interviewed by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, director, Arts & Cultural Projects, NLI Research Institute)
Creating stories within stories – Community based theatre
May I start by asking you why you were interested in the performing arts when you were young? And also what types of community theatre projects have you been involved in?
When I was a small girl I started making up stories with other children, like children do. I always felt that I wanted to have an audience. My first memories are of creating stories with other children; rehearsing them in the garden and then charging the neighbours to come and see them. I think this idea of theatre making, story making, which is a natural part of human activity, is something I always had in me. Then, when I was about 12 I started reading plays. I realised that people wrote these stories down into plays. I started imagining how you would make those stories happen in front of people and that’s when I decided I wanted to become a theatre director. So, I wanted to be a theatre director from the age of 12 years old.
I then went to University to study drama. When I was at University I started thinking a great deal about whose stories are told, and who goes to listen to these stories because obviously, everybody has stories to tell. Sometimes some people’s stories are made to feel so much more important than others. I spent a lot of time thinking about how if you have this gift to tell a story, for whom, or on whose behalf do you use this gift? That led me into using my theatre practice and my ideas about storytelling to not only chose to do plays, but to chose where to do those plays.
The first thing I did when I left University was to start a company called Solent Peoples Theatre, which was about taking theatre to different kinds of spaces. I created this company that performed in youth clubs and schools and hospitals and working men’s clubs. We also performed at outdoor spaces. There’s nowhere that doesn’t want to hear a good story and there is nowhere that isn’t looking for a way of hearing about stories a bit like their own so that we can think together about the way we live. So the first four years of Solent Peoples Theatre were all about experimenting with what kinds of stories you tell and how you put them inside places that people don’t expect theatre to happen in.
Another thing I think is very interesting about performance is what it leaves behind. There is a memory that stays, an energy, the energy of a memory. I’m very interested as well in how you take places that are always used in one way and then you interrupt them through some event, some excitement, something very emotional.
I worked at Solent Peoples Theatre for four years, and then I started a place called Battersea Arts Centre in Clapham Junction in the south of London. It was in a working class community, but it was beginning to move more toward middle class. It was changing the nature of the area and the communities were becoming quite separated. I made it a place where lots of different kinds of activities happened all at the same time. Some of them were quite experimental, some of them were quite community oriented. I like reusing spaces in different ways and that was one example of where if the building is right, you can take over a building that had one purpose and use it for a different purpose.
People often say to me “if you’re a theatre director why are you also running spaces?” My feeling is that the reason I’m a theatre director is because I want to tell stories. But I also want the stories that we tell about ourselves to change. So I suppose I was always interested in doing two things at the same time: telling a fictional story and changing the reality of the story that we live in. I think that the skills of performance are relevant to helping the community be engaged and be involved in the practice of communicating together.
After working at Battersea Arts Centre for five years, I decided that I wanted to spend a couple of years just having a relationship with poetry in particular, Shakespearean text. This is because I think most artists need periods of time when they’re not “giving out”, but that they are concentrating on their own inner development. So I spent two years at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I think Shakespeare is the great theatre philosopher. His examination of humanity is amazing, so is the beauty of the words, the beauty of the construction, and the architecture of his scenes. It’s very powerful to be able to spend time studying that and working on it and making work with it because you feel like you’re being restored.
Then I heard that the West Yorkshire Playhouse was being built. It was just a first row of bricks on the ground when they asked me to apply for a role of Artistic Director. So when I looked at this brick footprint of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, it was on this hill inside the city called Quarry Hill. It had been the location for something called the Quarry Hill Flats, which was a huge social housing project. The project became famous because it was so modern and ambitious. They were modeled on an idea of a kind of a city within a city. When the architects originally drew up the plans they were going to have internal nurseries for children and internal gardens and all sorts of things. But when they built the flats, they didn’t have any of those things, because they obviously ran out of money, and just thought “well we will just build the actual necessity.” But the necessity were the things that were apparently unnecessary and so without those promised things the place really quickly became a ghetto known for crime, vandalism, violence. So they had to pull all of it down. You then had on this hill a place that had had an idealism that had gone wrong. I thought, “This is an amazing place for a theatre to be created in its place.”
Leeds, where the West Yorkshire Playhouse was built, is a very big city but it also had a psychology of feeling it was second class. I felt again that theatre is full of stories about people who felt they were not very exceptional and nobody believed in them. Theatre is full of stories of people being remarkable in difficult circumstances. I didn’t want the idea that a city could decide it wasn’t remarkable. Because if you’re growing up in Leeds or anywhere you don’t want to feel that people are thinking “Well you can only really grow to that height because you’re from Leeds.”
So I wanted the West Yorkshire Playhouse to be telling the story that Leeds could be anything it wanted to be. It could be the best place in the entire world if it wanted to be. This is what I meant about stories within stories. There’s the putting on of the fictitious story. But the context that you give is critical to how people believe in their own lives and that’s the difference between using theatre for romantic purposes, to escape, and using theatre to consider what it is that your life could mean.
In order to do that, you have to put theatre inside a context that also gives your life meaning. So that’s what I was doing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was also about building the city. It was important to me to gather around the Universities and the City Council and local businesses, and to make the theatre the place that people could investigate these ideas.
The other thing is when you look at the footprint of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the foyer space for the public was really big. That excited me a lot. Because when you go in to the arts, for example, to the theatre, it’s extraordinary; the idea of 900 people, strangers sitting together in silence and watching something, going through this emotional experience. But then, when they come out or before they went in, there’s another theatre, isn’t there? It is the people and all the stories they have.
We need to enjoy humanity. We need to really enjoy the idea of being a human. I do really love the performance of public spaces. So I felt that you can use those foyer spaces, to make people experience things where they realise that they’re actually enjoying being with strangers. The West Yorkshire Playhouse had this potential to have a foyer space where everybody could come in. Everybody could feel welcome and things could be happening. I knew that that could be a catalyst for lots of interesting conversations as well.
It was in Leeds then that I realised, I was working backwards, from when I was a child in the back garden getting the neighbours to come see our plays. I was already really doing the same thing, which was telling a story about the community. Get your community to come to see it and then as a result the community can change.
Creating a places where ideas meet and are realized – Establishing Metal
After that you started the “Metal Culture” spaces for artists to meet and attempt new artistic challenges, didn’t you?
Towards the end of my time at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, I was thinking about creating another dialogue about the need for time and space in order to have ideas. It sounds very obvious, but it was amazing that there wasn’t actually any funding at all for people to meditate in order to come up with new ideas. I thought I wanted to do some of that for a while because I think artists also have cyclical patterns. I was about to hit another one of my patterns where I wanted to meditate for a bit, because it’s not good for you to be always running places. You know it’s not good for you always to be in charge or be the boss or anything. You’ve got to detox. I think artists need times when they go in to different thinking spaces. I knew there wasn’t any funding for that sort of thing, but I also knew that in an effort to get that money we had started to use new language about regeneration, about access. We really overused the language so that the politicians were then using it back to us in policy making.
I wanted to start a new language to do with time and space and permission. A slower language, a deeper language. That’s why I decided that I would create a studio for myself that I would share with other people I didn’t know.
I was contemplating why it is that in general when you go to private views or opening nights or any of the things that the industry does, why they are so unloving, why you feel tense, why you don’t feel all the things you say art is there to do, why in the industry do we maybe not feel that? Why are we competitive? Why do we make audiences feel intimidated? Why do people in the arts always wear black? Why do people always have to appear to be serious? Why are we so status conscious?
I thought about when I’d had great conversations with strangers. I recalled times like the morning after a party when you’ve stayed over and you’re cooking breakfast with people you don’t really know. You’re cooking and making tea and you’ve no idea really whether the person is a banker or a gardener, and you’ve got no status to prove.
So I started to think about kitchens, kitchen tables and cooking and I decided that Metal would be a space that began from a stove. You begin with the idea that there’s a table and it’s a meeting place for food, drink and conversation; you trust the knowledge that if you’re meeting with artists and thinkers they are incapable of not having hunches. Most people have hunches and then their tendency is to dismiss them. So they don’t need any help to dismiss ideas. They do that automatically. What people do need is encouragement to make ideas happen. That’s what they need, encouragement.
We would like to know the reasons why you established Metal at that time.
I think it was to do with courage. I became interested in fear and courage. I became interested in a combination of things. I became interested in why fear stops artists from doing something which they know they must do. I had a hunch that I must leave the Playhouse and do something, start something or begin something again. That was the right thing to do, start from nothing, the only thing that would stop me from doing that would be fear.
All artists feel fear. In fact I made a series of films about fear. It’s very, very bad to have fear as an employer, or anybody who is running anything. It’s a bad ingredient. You can’t avoid it, though, because that’s human nature. However, fear is a very problematic thing because people try to hide it and they try to disguise it, and they try to do things with it and then that can become a problem for other people because it often results in defensive or deceitful behaviour.
As an artist of course you’re going to have fear but you have to somehow confront it, go through it and live with it. One fear that inevitably an artist has is of losing power, losing control or losing status, which is a very unhelpful fear, because you have to be prepared to lose all of those things all the time. So part of my creating Metal was about giving away everything and confronting that fear, and part of it was therefore having the ability to be empathetic myself about other people’s fears. So, you could say that Metal was a space where it was okay to be frightened. It is not therapy. It is admission that none of us really know what we’re doing or how to do it. Particularly artists, you know if they already knew how to do it, they wouldn’t want to do it again because they’ve already done it. So there’s always that fear threshold.
Could you give us an example of what happened at Metal in London?
In London, one of the artists who came from Colombia did a project. She met a lot of people in London and then, people at dinners that I was giving. Then she started to do a project where she painted the colours of the faces of everybody on the underground. This was a massive piece of work, I mean a really, really huge piece of work, and the colours of all the faces of the people on the tube were many, many shades from brown to black with some pink. Then that [work] became a really big talking point for lots of people, about race and economics. Because the parallel she was drawing in Colombia was that the darker the skin the less money you earned. The artist’s point was that Colombia is still a society where the color of your skin determines your social status and income; so she made this piece of work whilst she was here. Race and skin colour is a topic which is normally impossible to explore or talk about very easily. This piece of work started to get taken around to different places in order to start conversations about it, it went to some places that would never normally discuss this issue. So just by her being in residence, other people then started to do work around this theme, but in a way that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. That’s just one example of what Metal has done.
A completely different example is there was much discussion about regeneration. The big area that was being regenerated in London at the time was Arsenal Football Club. They were moving Arsenal Football Club, but they were not clear about what would be done with the area they left behind. So a group of artists who don’t normally work together, decided that we would have a big Christmas festival in the area and create lighting schemes. A lot of artists who had never done anything like that before came together basically because they were football supporters, and because they got to know each other. I suppose there was probably about 30 or more projects that happened as a result of this. Then Islington Council started to ask for advice from these artists and they started to work on some more regeneration schemes with them.
So you could see that by the simple device of inviting strangers to meet each other, noticing the ideas people had and saying “Have you ever thought about that?” You could just create this sort of accumulation of possibility, because Metal wasn’t trying to say, “we want that idea ourselves” or, “this is for our organisation,” these ideas were allowed to go forward. And I realised then that if you could transfer that model to a place where the people round the table were not just the artists and thinkers and sort of decision makers but were the community as well, you would be able to make arts practice happen in a way that was natural to community development. One of the big problems about community activity is often experts feeling they must decide for the non-experts. Often the community arts project has an agenda it wants to fulfill and the community isn’t part of it. So this got me thinking about how to transfer the neutrality of sitting at a table having a cup of tea together. That’s why, in a way, with Metal we decided to move more into a place, a location.
Unraveling an old story – Becoming Artistic Director of Southbank Centre
In 2005 you were appointed Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, how did that come about?
I left West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2000. A lot of things happened around that time. I started Metal two years before I left the Playhouse. That is to say I found the place and I started renovating it, I knew I was going to do this. I founded Metal in 2000, and then two years later I met Colette Bailey and she wanted to join. So that’s what happened next. Then around that same time I was asked if I would develop the ideas we had, regarding the Olympics, this is a separate story really but I suppose they all relate. I had felt very passionately that if you could get the Olympics and the Para Olympics to include the arts and culture in a way that was more obvious than had been in previous Olympics. If you could make it more apparent then that would be good particularly for young people. So I started doing that and then we won the bid in 2005. At the same time as all of this I was also being head-hunted to go and be the Artistic Director of Southbank Centre.
Colette Bailey and I talked a lot about this because I think Metal is a project that I will always do. It’s like a piece of art that I will probably make forever. We talked about Southbank Centre and the reason why Southbank Centre needed an Artistic Director. When it opened in 1951, it had an amazing story. It’s a place that had kind of forgotten that story completely and was doing something completely different and somebody had to turn it around. So, I decided I would do that.
What was Southbank Centre’s “amazing story” from the time of its opening?
Well, after the Second World War, Britain, as with many other places, was very shocked and amazed by what the world had done to itself. Many movements in the world were created like the United Nations, UNESCO and the Human Rights Declaration. There was a really profound desire by everybody to never repeat that terrible carnage.
In that time after the war a Labour government came in to Britain, (which was a big shock for Winston Churchill, because he thought that he would naturally win the election). A number of ideas came forward, concerning a health and welfare state, a national health system and education for all, and the arts came in to that as well. That was when the Arts Council was founded. It was the major moment for the ideology of subsidized arts.
Then a number of people had a regeneration idea for the area of London south of the river. That particular area was very impoverished, it was a slum, and parts of it were derelict. It was a side of the river that was extremely unfashionable. The idea was to clear the site and have a Festival of Britain that celebrated everything that was great about the possibility of the future, “a tonic for the nation”. It was about modernism, about design, the ability to design a future that was practical and beautiful for everyone. It was a huge exhibition. But the key thing about it was that it was very egalitarian for the very first time. It was about everybody coming. Over 50% of the artists who worked on the site were refugees.
They wanted the site had to have a quality to do with “women and children” first, a sensibility of feminine principles and playfulness because they said the war had been such a male construct. So they wanted the site to reflect something that was about tenderness and playfulness and humanity. They also talked about water and light and greenery. They wanted a relationship with the river. They wanted this idea of dominant colourfulness to be part of it all and they examined lots of ideas about the way in which society organises itself.
It was an amazing experience for people who went there; people still discuss it with great fervor today. Then Churchill came back into power and the Conservative government took the festival down. What was then left was the Royal Festival Hall and a derelict site which gradually turned into an arts place. The Queen Elizabeth Hall was built in the ‘60s and the Hayward Gallery. But the site was very unwelcoming and it’s 21 acres were underused.
Were there any special programmes you started when you became Artistic Director of Southbank Centre?
Well, first of all I drew some pictures. I drew four great pictures of what I felt the story of the site had been, and what I felt it had forgotten and what I dreamt it could be like. I still use those pictures to describe the policy. I take these pictures out on a regular basis and then I just started working out bit by bit how I would do what’s in those pictures, which meant changing the organisation’s sense of why it is here, i.e. getting it to remember its origins, its story.
Because in 1951 it was created as a festival site, it wasn’t a site on which there was a concert hall, an art gallery and another concert hall and some other spaces, it was a site into which thousands of different people of all kinds would gather to be amazed by creativity and art, and also by each other. You could tell that the architects had intended it to be a celebration of people and art, but it had become something that was only about what was inside those buildings on the stages and in the galleries. It had lost its central energy.
Southbank Centre had forgotten that its purpose was to be a festival site; that it was about celebration and meditation. So my main point was to try to get the site to think that it was about people coming together to celebrate ideas rather than it being about only classical music or visual arts. It didn’t mean that we weren’t doing the classical music, it didn’t mean that we weren’t doing visual arts, but it was just a different way of coming at it. I’ve been there nearly five years now. I think now the organisation feels that is knows its history and its purpose.
My feeling is that we need to return to the principles of the original Festival of Britain and make the 21 acre site committed to the notion of celebrating humanity. It’s to have a place of renewal and congregation, into which you use the arts as one of the most profound examples of human imagination. Rather than a centre where you do lots of arts and then there happens to be some public space around as well. Changing the habits of an institution can be hard. It’s like persuading people that they should clean off the painting that they’re really, really fond of, because you say underneath that painting I promise you there’s a Van Gogh.” But we just can’t find out until we do this cleaning. People are terrified to do that. They are frightened of change and of loss. But now the Southbank Centre team is very motivated.
Are there any programmes you’ve started after becoming Artistic Director specifically aimed to change Southbank Centre’s direction?
I started a project called Voicelab. This programme was about bringing people of all different kinds together to sing and training people to sing at all levels. The idea that ordinary people could come and really be part of this great organisation. That was a big change. I then invited a number of environmental groups to come and be part of Southbank Centre. I think the biggest thing I did was create an Artist In Residence programme. I gave the spaces to beat boxers, visual artists, cellists, poets, all kinds of artists to take up residence here.
I also started various festivals. Although we had classical music programmes and we had exhibitions, by starting festivals up or expanding the existing festivals, so they became very ambitious, you’d have a critical mass of activity - big shows, little shows, free things in the foyer spaces and you could create a kind of congregation of people and energy all coming in at the same time doing lots of different things.
Did you start the Mime Festival that took place the other day?
No. Although it’s very good work, that’s an example of the kind of festival which I think is not doing enough to change audiences and artists. A mime festival, jazz festival, and dance festival are the festivals that distribute work to venues, and the venues receive the work. They’re very much about the audience seeing the show, they are not about the experience of the artists and audience and community together in a space. I happen to think the mime festival does a very good job because not many people around the world are looking at mime and bringing it together. But it’s a very product driven kind of idea of a festival.
The festival that I’ve just started, Alchemy, which is about India and Britain and South Asia is much more like what I mean, where the site gets saturated with activity. Exhibitions and music in a very dense way and anybody who comes to it feels as if it’s a festival site. Then the education work can be part of that and it can be much more visible, instead of the education work being separate. I think one of the general difficulties we have in the arts is not pulling ideas together enough. Even when you do lots of small things, it’s very difficult to have an impact and Southbank Centre is such a big place you have to do a great deal to have an impact.
There’s part of me that feels as if it’s all Russian Dolls, you know one thing inside another. In the sense that I think I’m basically doing the same thing everywhere I go on different scales, which is trying to get people to understand that they have the ability to create a very strong story themselves, that places hold memories of stories really powerfully, and that if you are somebody that works in the arts you need to be a curator of stories of places and stories of people.
Searching for new potential in the arts – Involvement in British arts policy
You are a member of some government committees involved in making arts and cultural policy. What made you want to become involved in that area?
It’s the same basis that you can make a good story happen or a bad story happen. I think practicing artists, if they feel they can, should be involved in policy making, we are trained to think of different paradigms, which I think is really important in policy making because policy making is about pattern making. When I’ve seen some fantastic ideas happening in many contexts, very often there are artists involved in making these ideas. I believe there’s a consistency in my situation between thinking about what your community might be and thinking about what your nation might be. For me, anyway, contributing to the policy making of the country I live in is an obligation that I’m happy to have.
I don’t think that the Arts should only exist in a funding box, it’s not natural that the Arts should be only self-involved. It’s very unnatural, and that’s why we’re always fighting about Arts and Education or Arts and Community because we’re trying to get Arts out of the box in to its more natural place, which is as a part of society as a whole.
So I attend different kinds of committees that aren’t to do with the Arts particularly. In order to introduce the idea that the Arts could matter in restorative justice, that the Arts can matter in regeneration, the Arts can matter in Education. I know how powerful the Arts are. There’s no point me sitting on committees that are just about the Arts.
Could you give some examples of changes that you helped make in the cultural policy?
I think the committee that we created, the All Our Futures committee, we strongly suggested that schools needed to be engaged with creativity and that they needed to engage with the artists discipline of creativity. Not only make arts projects but use art as a method of training in creativity of many kinds across all subjects.
Then that became a very successful programme called Creative Partnerships, which was to demonstrate that if you place creativity deep inside the heart of schools, then you will make real difference to those schools, and all the evidence shows this is true. The difficulty of the programme is people’s perception of the cost of doing it, but I think that’s because people still aren’t thinking of it as essential to our wellbeing like health or dental care. I mean I daresay 100 years ago it was very hard to persuade people that a country should spend money on having dental care. People would just say “well, can’t you have all your teeth out and just put false teeth in instead?” That of course is an option. But now dentists and dental care and anything to do with dentistry are part of civilisation. I think it’s a question of travelling along this timeline, until you get to a place where people think “why did we ever think that creativity was something you should just do as an optional extra?” I think we will get to that place.
Another thing I’ve been involved in is trying to get the Arts to be a far greater part of work in prisons and work in restorative justice. Again, I believe the arts changes people’s sense of who they are. Just the doing of it, making of work, and thinking in a particular way. A huge percentage of prisoners are dyslexic, a huge percentage have damaged lives, and they have time, so much time. Art work in prisons has had a profound effect on the detainee. So again it’s a bit like antibiotics or something, you can see the effect, are you prepared to pay the bill to have people use art in a restorative way or not? I think eventually these things will become part of how society operates – we need to keep being persuasive.
In a tribe art is naturally part of what we do, singing, music, dancing, eating together, all of these things. As we become more “sophisticated” we take these things away from people. Then we give them back when they can afford them or they are deemed “worthy”. Civilisation requires us to return to things that are the root of what humans naturally do for each other and with each other. Policy making is about how, in this incredibly complicated world that we’ve got of compartmentalization, do you create the sort of pathways that connect ideas back together again?
So you’d like to make some kind of bridge between arts and culture and other social issues. Is that correct?
Yes. That’s one thing. But Metal is also strongly saying that art must exist for its own sake. Metal introduced the idea of the right to time and space and the need for time and space for artists in practice. It reintroduced the language of arts back in to the Arts Council regardless of whether or not that art was “useful”. I think Metal was one of the influences that balanced arts language away from saying that arts’ only merit is to have another function, because finally the reason why arts is so wonderful is for its own sake. I mean it is like love in the sense that if you try to say love is only useful when it’s solving the problem with your dog, if you try to make usefulness the criteria for love, you’ve really lost the plot. So if the language of the arts, if measuring the arts is always about its functionality then it’s very dangerous. But if you then try to say it doesn’t have to have any function then that’s very decadent. It is how you maintain this language balance and policy balance. That’s my point really I don’t think that my policy making is about developing its functionality. My policy work is about trying to get people to understand the complexity of something that is very profound and has many uses.
In Japan, some people say that when you try to use art as a tool for education or for other social programmes that might damage the autonomy of art. What do you think about that point?
I don’t know what people are frightened about. Art isn’t going to ever go away. Art will be created and recreated all over the world in many different forms. If people can find a companionship between the use of storytelling or the use of a picture and getting people to think how they might change their ideas about health, that’s a great use for it. But it doesn’t stop it sitting there in front of you in an art gallery where you can just sit down and watch it. The two don’t contradict each other.
When I asked the same question to a thinker Francois Matarasso, he answered that there’s no pure art.
I agree. I mean it’s ridiculous to think that pure art is this size on a square thing on a wall. But you know people say that’s art. It’s not art. It’s the way that it has been convenient to create an image to go on a wall. So all art is put inside a vehicle for consumption purposes and some people have decided, “That’s where I draw the line.”
Finally, could you tell us about your future direction or future challenges.
The next thing I direct is an Opera in March, which is about Auguste Piccard, the scientist who went up in the first aerial space balloon in order to prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It’s by the composer, Will Gregory from Gold Frappe. I’ve done many pieces of music theatre and opera and I’m interested in whether or not I might start commissioning work myself now. Commissioning writers and commissioning musicians to work on pieces of work with me. In terms of my own work I think I’ll probably start creating work with teams of people, which is what I used to do a long time ago when my own work was all devised.
With Metal, we want to move into international relationships. We started some relationships with Colombia and with Japan. The goods and capital wealth of the world exchange at incredible speed all the time, culture needs to build similar links. I think we have to speed up international exchange.
So I think Metal will start trying to be even more proactive about international partnerships and international exchange. I think that’s a very exciting place to go next. So that you don’t think of cultural policy as being defined by your government and then you work it out from there. Because I think cultural policy has always been about catching up with what people are really doing, and then trying to solidify it. I think that in the nations that are emerging, I don’t just mean the BRICs nations but the sort of emerging economies, there is amazing energy in culture because there has to be, using some of that in the older nations and thinking about how you can be a partner, I think that’s very interesting. So I think Colette and I are going to explore more of those types of partnerships.