Happy New year! And what a year for Watershed – June 2022 will mark 40 years since we opened the doors as the UK’s First Media Centre. As we said when we celebrated our 30th birthday - the world was a very different place 30 years ago. No mobile phones, no internet, no iPhone apps, Facebook or touchscreen technology, not even digital cameras or video game consoles. In those intervening decades Watershed has surfed many waves – establishing ourselves as one of few truly cross-art form organisations in the UK, but staying true to the founding vision of innovation and risk.
Watershed’s aims are to produce accessible and inclusive cultural experiences that fire up the imagination and bring people together. We are a leading centre for film culture, art and technology practice, and talent development. However, I believe it is the intersections of these strands that makes our work most interesting – which means our audiences know and love us for many different things.
Turning 40 is often a time for reflection – celebration (and terror), and Watershed’s birthday feels similar. Whilst the pandemic has been tough on our people and resources, we have embraced change and used the time wisely, to reflect on where we have been and dream beyond recovery. We are ready to share more of our thinking and invite you – Watershed’s audiences, artists and supporters - to join us in an exploration of our relevance, vision and values.
Through Watershed 40 we will ask open questions about our past, present and future. There will be some public programme, some physical changes, some new toilets and some celebrations, so watch this space. It is not a change programme that will be completed by December, it is the packing of our rucksack for a new adventure, topping up our spirits and setting our course for the next 40 years. We hope you want to come with us.