Bristol's international reputation as a creative, innovative, unorthodox city is growing and this helps Watershed to connect more widely with all our audiences, artists and partners. In January our Managing Director Dick Penny was in New York to speak at an Arts conference: APAP | NYC Vision 2021 and co-lead a session with International Futures Forum on cultural innovation, drawing on their Watershed case study Producing the Future.
While no-one at this US conference was pretending that the economic situation is anything but dire, the debate was all about the future and ways to innovate, ways to connect.
The opening keynote was given by political philosopher Benjamin Barber who framed the current state of the nation as Museum vs Mall: '...democracy really needs the arts as a cultivator of citizenship, imagination and creativity.'
There was also a fantastic article in the conference magazine by Kenneth J Foster, Executive Director of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in which he argues that we have to 'embrace and engage diversity' saying 'you can't get innovation and you can't get change unless you have diversity.'
Here at Watershed we believe that we can embrace complexity and diversity more overtly without losing clarity of purpose - we can take more cultural risk, be more flexible and most importantly engage more with artists and audiences.
We are very proud that Dick Penny was awarded an MBE for services to the Creative Industries in Bristol in the 2011 New Year's Honours List. Dick's response to hearing the news about his MBE sums up how we might all approach the future:
I am very honoured, it came right out of the blue - thanks everyone - now back to the task of helping to make Bristol the most open and culturally engaging place to live, work and learn.
Please do feel free to get in touch with us about any comments or ideas you have, we would love to hear from you.