Fancy a firstsite Job?

And so as The Chronic hinted at last week, firstsite is looking for a third Director in less than four years.

Farewell Matthew Rowe – what next for firstsite?

Certainly not more of the same. The carefully worded press release put out by Andrew Nightingale, the Interim [Mmmm] Chair states:

“Matthew talked recently about firstsite being at a crossroads and after much consideration has decided that it is time for him to move on and enable the organisation to grasp new opportunities and initiatives.”

This really is make or break for the Golden Goose.

Despite some of the recent headlines, funding for firstsite HASN’T stopped. The Arts Council took the rather pragmatic decision to put a cap on the funding.

£800,000 was always the figure that was going to be made available for the organisation for the next twelve months, and this remains the case.

The kick up the arse that the Arts Council gave to firstsite two months ago was a warning that the £2.4m over three years is not guaranteed.

The promise of funding for only a year and the search for yet a new Director at firstsite, may *or may not* be related.

Of course the speculation will start about Matthew Rowe’s departure. Was he pushed or did he jump?

Not relevant.

Let’s move on.

We’d rather focus on the future of firstsite, and thank Matthew for some of the changes that he put in place.

The BIG HITTERS have gone horribly wrong. Some of the ‘marquee’ exhibitions just weren’t suitable for a town like Colchester.

We’re never sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but Colchester as a town is very conservative.

Small c, natch.

The firstsite press release recognises:

“There have been many struggles – some of which are ongoing – but we have also witnessed some very encouraging work with many community based partnership projects.”

We really wish that firstsite would talk more about the many, many community events that it puts on.

The Golden Goose remains a pain in the backside of The Chronic every Sunday night when we pre-load up our twitter feed of all the events taking place around the town over the following seven days.

The family films, young people arts events, breakdancing sessions… the list really is endless and it ruins our appreciation of whatever Sunday night TV twaddle is being screened.

Perhaps this is the future of firstsite?

It is a truly stunning building.

Is this sufficient as the contemporary artistic statement that the organisation has tried (and failed) to celebrate?

Celebrate the building as the contemporary, and then fill it with the community.

If only it was that easy…

But plenty does take place within those sloping walls that are overlooked. The incoming Director would do well to focus on these community events first, and then think about what has gone wrong with the BIG HITTERS. Don’t lose whatever value you already have.

The Interim [Mmmm] Chair continues:

“I believe there is a sustainable future for firstsite which, working with the excellent staff that firstsite has, we are determined to secure.”


Oh Lordy.

There is no denying that it is a HUGE job for whoever takes on the role. There is less than twelve months to turn things around before the Arts Council comes sniffing around again.

Matthew Rowe stated himself back in February that he believed it would be a “five year plan” to make firstsite work.

Maybe this was his epitaph?

Basically it comes down to business or art?

It would be a very clever Director that was able to combine the two.

And so Sunny Colch has TWO high profile vacancies coming up over the next month or so.

A Director of firstsite and an MP for the town.

Fancy a job share, Sir Bob?

One thought on “Fancy a firstsite Job?

  • 9th April 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Totally correct on your report, build the project for the community and celebrate the building for its contemporary design. The issue isn’t the education team, who do a fab job, but those in charge of the programme, who for some reason want to aim it at the 2% of Londoners who express an interest in contemporary art. Once you establish a strong local base, the rest of the area/country will come to visit.

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