It was exciting to learn that Debbie Kermode has been appointed as mac birmingham’s new Artistic Director / CEO taking over from Dorothy Wilson.
Twenty five years ago as Director of Programming at mac Dorothy was the first person in the arts world to give Stan’s Cafe real practical encouragement. She was then kind enough to be the first Chair of our board and has continued to support the company in various ways ever since. Needless to say we will miss Dorothy’s presence at mac, as will countless other artists and companies, but my suspicion is that, just as Tony Benn retired as an MP in order to have more time for politics, so Dorothy Wilson has resigned her role at mac in order to have more time for the arts. She will be still be around as a freelance mover and shaker, meanwhile mac’s identity will be given a shake up by the arrival of a new Artistic Director.
Debbie Kermode’s appointment makes sense, she knows Birmingham’s arts scene very well and having been Head of Education at Ikon gallery and the leader of Creative Partnership in Birmingham she is well qualified to keep mac focused on its core mission of arts access and education. It will be intriguing to see how the personality of the organisation changes with a new personality at the top.
This an exciting period of churn in cultural leadership around the region. Stephen and Jackie Newbould are moving on from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, they are replaced by Stephan Meier. Laura MacDermott and Harun Morrison, the dynamic duo behind Fierce have moved on and are replaced by Aaron Wright. Matt Burman has moved from Director of Programming at Warwick Arts Centre to take over the Yorkshire Festival, he is replaced by Julia Carruthers. At The Hippodrome Chief Executive Stuart Griffiths has been replaced after 15 years by Fiona Allan. The CBSO have recently announced Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla their new Music Director will start in September. Birmingham Arts Partnership, a grouping of the city’s biggest cultural institutions has changed its constitution and become Culture Central, they have recruited Gary Topp to become their first Director.
Across the region (and beyond) artists will be watching these changes with different emotions. For Stan’s Cafe there is inevitably a bit of anxiety, we had great working relationships with most of those leaders and between them the have commissioned much of our work over the last ten years. We are anxious that we will be able to build equally productive connections with the new people. For others there may be relief that someone who never seemed interested in their work has been replaced by someone who may be more receptive.
Time well tell. We wish everyone well in each direction and look forward to what the new future brings.