I am altogether sad, happy and a little apprehensive as I announce that I will be stepping down as CEO of Tees Valley Arts this summer.
I first joined TVA back in 1999, when it was Cleveland Arts, and have worked for the organisation in a variety of roles, becoming CEO in 2008. I believe in what TVA does, and along with our Board and our staff and partners, we passionately believe that taking part in the arts can change lives. I have always believed in the good, old-fashioned notion of cultural entitlement – that a society’s culture should belong to everyone in that society, and should never be just for an elite.
I often say that TVA works with ‘every misery known to man’, and that is true, but what TVA does with that misery is to lighten it with joy, to support confidence, and to help people feel proud of what they can achieve, often with talents they never even suspected that they had. That is work to boast about and celebrate – truly the art of changing lives.
As for myself, I am intending to change my life by re-engaging with the creative talents that I used to have, so you can expect to come across me somewhere about the place, singing, drawing and writing poetry.
I wish TVA, and the new CEO who will pick up the baton from me, all the very best for the future. I think that the cultural future of the Tees Valley looks more positive now than it has done for years, and I hope to see TVA playing a very significant part in that, just as it has played its part for many years, through some very lean times.
Thank you to all the colleagues, artists, participants and friends that it has been my pleasure to work with. See you around!
Rowena was CEO of TVA and is a writer, an illustrator, and a singer; she has published several children’s books, contributed poems to anthologies, worked extensively as a freelance illustrator and sung in venues of all sizes and types, on radio and TV.