As we look ahead to a host of new and exciting shows at Broadway Theatre this summer, we welcome the theatre’s new Creative Programmer, Kevin Parker. We caught up with Kevin who discussed his background, previous experience in the world of theatre and why he decided to work in the industry.
Hi Kevin! First of all, tell me a little about yourself?
I’ve been involved in the arts for as long as I can remember. I am a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and then worked as an actor and director in Wales and the South West of England with several roles on TV, film and the stage. As I’ve grown older, the arts have become a family affair for me, with all four of my children following me into the field. My eldest son, Tom, is a visual artist and printmaker, Jack is an actor and teacher based in the Far East, George is training to be a film-maker and director and my daughter Hannah is an accomplished jazz and opera singer.
When did you decide to move into the management side of the arts?
I first moved into arts management in the late 1980s, becoming the director of the Horsham Arts Centre (now known as The Capitol Theatre, Horsham) in 1993. I led the venue into a programme of product expansion and facility development that culminated in a £6m refit and established the venue as a major force for arts and community activity in the South East of England.
Following this, I founded Fanfare for the Arts, a professional and community bi-annual festival of arts under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Checkland, as well as founding Metro Productions, a large-scale events management company and was also Associate Producer with Good Company Productions.
Definitely not a quiet start to your career then?
That’s probably fair to say! After this, I became the founding CEO of Arts Culture Harrow, a new Charitable Trust charged with the recovery and development of the arts and museums facilities of the London Borough of Harrow. I was one of the founding directors of the Network Touring Consortium and for six years vice-chair and a trustee of South East Dance the Brighton Based National Dance Agency. I also acted as an advisor to the Short Film Bureau, was Chair of the South East Arts Users Group and an advisor to the Combined Arts Department.
In 2003, I became the founding Director of Stockton Arts Centre, a new Trust funded by Arts Council England and Stockton Borough Council, established to re-open and run ARC, the lottery built an arts centre in Stockton on Tees. Since successfully re-opening in September 2003, ARC has developed into a centre for creativity and community activity attracting more than 100,000 users a year.
Since leaving ARC, I have been a carer for my aging father and autistic stepson, while also working as a visiting instructor in drama at Breckenbrough School and a practicing contemporary and abstract artist with sales both nationally and internationally.
What attracted you to the role at Broadway Theatre?
My career to date has been about opening the arts to the widest possible community. To use the arts to entertain and inspire all people regardless of their circumstances so that they can achieve their aspirations. This can be in creating their own art or simply to experience the work of others as members of an audience. It creates opportunities for everyone to experience the arts, to get involved, to enjoy the excitement of creating something or participating in a shared experience.
Working at the Heritage Foundation allows me to use my vast experience to create and support a programme that appeals to the diverse community of Letchworth. The role enables me to achieve my aim, which is to have more people involved and enjoying the arts in all its forms.