When did you join the Board of Tees Valley Arts?
In December 2011.
What interests and excites you about Tees Valley Arts?
I value the creative opportunities that TVA has made available, which can change lives – often for people in difficult personal situations.
What do you love about Teesside?
Its distinctive character – when I moved here many years ago I was awed by the scale of Teesside’s industry – and at that time huge investment in its industry was taking place. Times have changed of course and now, even with the decline in Teesside’s industry, there are not many places like Teesside left in Britain. But Teesside is more than just industry and it has an ill deserved reputation with some that does not reflect, for example, the rich and important natural environment that we have – which we must look after and we should celebrate.
When you were a child what did you want to be?
As I recall, the world of work meant nothing to me – I was quite happy just to play (see below).
What is your earliest memory?
Of growing up in the countryside, free to play without constraint in the fields and woods near home – and then back to listen to “Journey into Space” in the evening (gripping stuff to feed the imagination).
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t particularly bother about possessions and have nothing that I would say I treasure. I have accumulated a lot of junk that I don’t treasure but just cannot throw away – as I’m often urged to at home! I enjoy owning my bike and camera for what I can do with them.
What is the worst job you’ve ever done?
When I was at University I had a holiday job (for three years) in a grim metalworking business – the work was hard, monotonous and potentially dangerous, the conditions dirty and dismal, health and safety was non existent – but the men who worked there, who were initially dismissive of me, became good friends and as time went by I came to enjoy going back each holiday.
What has been your biggest disappointment in life?
I hope it’s not just an age thing but I do feel disappointed about many of the changes in government and society. For example, I spent a number of rewarding years as a school governor and I find the imposed change to the school system, with no regard for local views and moving away from local accountability, very disappointing.
Who is your favourite artist (any artform)?
Alan Bennett. But this is a very difficult question to answer – on another day it could be Cezanne, Grace Slick, Vaughan Williams …it’s likely to depend on the mood I’m in or would like to be in.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was 18 I remember visiting a factory that was part of an industry that was an essential part of life, with factories throughout the country. The conversation with the man who was showing me round touched on what I wanted to do in the future. He observed that whatever you may think about what you want for the future or what the future will be like, it’s quite likely to turn out very different – that might not have occurred to me at the time! So what he was saying was that you need to be prepared for an uncertain future, to be flexible, ready to change and adapt and so on. His industry has long since disappeared almost without a trace.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
When I was a school governor I worked with a teacher (now retired) who had devoted most of her career to one school. I had the utmost respect and admiration for her professional expertise, dedication and loyalty to the school, and her care and concern for its children – she had made such a difference to so many young lives. She was respected, loved and held in the highest regard by the children, parents and colleagues. Of course I’m sure there are many other teachers like her.
If resources were no object, what project or activity would you most like to see Tees Valley Arts undertake?
I would like TVA to be able to offer longer term continuity to the great work it has been doing (not having to depend on short term and uncertain project funding) and build on its relationships with other local organisations and in its community. I would like to see TVA build its capacity and expertise to undertake and instigate creative opportunities – and be acknowledged as a key player in the future development of Tees Valley, a future where cultural and artistic development within our community for the benefit of all is an integral part.