A Week In My Life: Mary Cloake, Chief Executive at the Bluecoat Liverpool

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

This week Mary Cloake, Chief Executive at the Bluecoat Liverpool, runs us through a week in her working life. To suggest another senior media or creative figure to feature in A Week In My Life, please email david@prolificnorth.co.uk

Saturday 19th November

Today I was at the end of a visit to Singapore, part of Common Purpose’s “Commonwealth Leaders Programme.”

Singapore is a teeming port city with an awe-inspiring skyline where per capita income has risen four-fold since 1990. The Singaporeans are now looking closely at those people who economic development has left behind and I see some inspiring projects. It is particularly exciting to make contacts so that Bluecoat’s team can share experiences with people in Singapore about Blue Room, our project for adults with learning disabilities. Having a wide social reach is important to us and Blue Room is a prime example of how we extend a welcome to all.

At Bluecoat we have fine print-making workshops and a vibrant print-making programme, so I take the opportunity of being in Singapore to visit STPI, the Creative Workshop and Gallery, to see if we might organise some exchanges.

Sunday 20th November

I spent the day unpacking and reflecting on the visit which gave me the opportunity to meet leaders from Africa, India, East Asia, Canada and New Zealand, and opened up for me entirely new perspectives on the world. It’s also great to be able to spread the word internationally about Bluecoat and its position as the UK’s first arts centre.

Monday 21st November

Shortly after arriving at Bluecoat this morning I was in a round table meeting with our Leadership Group and senior staff of Liverpool John Moore’s University. We are talking about Bluecoat’s plan to celebrate the 300th anniversary of our landmark, Grade 1 listed Queen Anne style building with 300 days of celebration in 2017. The programme includes Public View, an exhibition of 100 artists who have exhibited at Bluecoat including household names such as Yoko Ono, and Abacus, a summer exhibition for children. We identified lots of possible collaborations.

Tuesday 22nd November

Today, I worked with our HR intern Rachel Duncan on her project to create guidelines for the inclusive workplace. I persuade Richard Nutter from DaDaFest (Bluecoat’s resident Deaf and Disability Arts Festival) to take a break from the festival - which is running full tilt right now - to join me for a quick bite of lunch. I have one of Bluecoat’s signature sausage rolls (which I would highly recommend!).

Wednesday 23rd November

I found myself in Liverpool One Bus Station at 7.45am to meet writer and performer Gerard Lee (author of the novel ‘Forsaken’) visiting Liverpool from Dublin on a study visit. Through the day we talk to Matthew Linley of Unity Theatre and pop into the Everyman, the Philharmonic, the Playhouse and end the day at the launch of What Next? Liverpool – a network of artists and arts organisations - at the Royal Court Theatre. It is vital to be in touch with artists as they have been integral to Bluecoat’s survival since the Sandon Society of artists moved into the building in 1907. Artist development is enshrined at the heart of our practice and underpins all of our activity, so it’s important we retain great links with the art world.

A Week In My Life: Nick Appleyard, Editor of the Sunday SportThursday 24th November

I took the train to Ormskirk to visit to Edge Hill University for a meeting of the Expert Advisory Panel of the I4P (Institute of Public Policy and Professional Practice). A brisk walk in the sharp November sunlight along leafy Ruff Lane is a delight and the meeting, to consider the importance of links between education, young people and the arts, is equally rewarding.

Then back to Liverpool City Centre and a jog up the hill where University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies is hosting Ireland’s inspirational first woman president and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. As part of her brilliant lecture Mary talks about Climate Justice and calls on all of us to "shape a world that is fairer and better than the one we inherited".

Friday 25th November

A busy day of meetings about funding. As twilight fell we were preparing for the launch of Auto Agents, an exhibition by James Harper and Mark Simmons curated by a group of artists with learning disabilities.

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