And so Anthony Roberts will be making MANY trips back and forth along the High Street in his new role as the Interim Director of firstsite.
And good luck, fella.
Anthony will remain in his post as the Director of Colchester Arts Centre, as well as bringing his many ideas down to the other end of the High Street to help give firstsite a kick up the arse.
“You’re in for a fun ride”
… we believe formed part of the meet ‘n’ greet speech that Anthony gave to the firstsite staff this morning.
A twelve month interim contract has been given to Anthony by the firstsite board. This is basically an opportunity to show the Arts Council that Colchester can do art, and on its own terms as well.
Speaking exclusively to The Chronic, Anthony said:
“The Board at firstsite were in a situation where they wanted ideas. I was asked indirectly if I had any. I’ve always got ideas. I couldn’t but help to offer these.”
I have a very clear remit over the next twelve months. I have been brought in to do a specific job. I need to reestablish a framework so that the Arts Council and other investors feel confident in the organisation.”
To make this happen then Anthony needs to get the Colchester community on board. We hesitate to use the phrase ‘community.’
Of course there is community around the town, but to separate the art elite from the Arts Centre crowd isn’t very helpful.
Many of the punters that we see at firstsite events also turn up the next night at the Arts Centre. It’s all about the people, something that Anthony knows all too well:
“I want to reconnect firstsite with the wide Colchester community. I want to make it work as a social space rather than just an arts space.”
Some of the exhibitions have been first class. They have been well put together. I want to now make firstsite a place where people can hang out and exchange ideas.”
This was certainly the case when Anthony and his team helped Hunt and Darton to stage the successful pop up cafe at firstiste over Christmas.
Anthony also told us:
“Visual art will remain as the main activity. The programme will be balanced around diversity in the widest sense.”
But this doesn’t mean that the Arts Centre will be losing the creative talent that has helped it to survive as one of the leading venues in the country for artistic experimentation:
“I am still the Director of Colchester Arts Centre. You can’t get rid of me. I am 24 years in and the job there is not finished yet.”
The Arts Centre continually pulls in the punters. It also continues to remain on a sound financial footing.
You can see why firstsite was so keen to speak with Anthony…
As for the corporate press release?
Yep – let’s do a C & P here as well.
For the record:
Andrew Nightingale, Interim Chair of the Firstsite Board, said:
“Anthony has a proven track record in providing popular but challenging art for Colchester and the region. This chimes precisely with firstsite’s mission and the Board believes this makes a perfect fit at the present time.”
Meanwhile Hedley Swain, the Arts Council Area Director for the South East was heard to mutter:
“The appointment of Colchester Arts Centre and its experienced team as interim management for firstsite is a decision that is fully supported and welcomed by Arts Council England.
We will continue to work closely with firstsite and the local authority stakeholders to ensure the gallery fulfils its potential to be a vibrant visual arts centre for Colchester and the surrounding region and delivers a programme that is valued by its local communities.”
We’re pretty chuffed at The Chronic to be honest. We couldn’t think of a better person in Sunny Colch for the job.
And that bit is important. We’re not going to go all inward looking, but firstsite needs someone who understands our town.
Anthony is yer man.
Plus it gets us out of not publishing that tricky blog post that we had lined up after our weekend visit to firstsite.
Apologies, but it was just pants.
We really didn’t want to do the dirty and say how depressing it was.
That is all about to change.
A fun ride indeed.