MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt reports on some big changes ahead for our busy Creative Learning team.
Change is in the air! And change is good, of course, but sometimes it takes a little bit of getting used to. At MPA our team is grappling with the implications of a quick-fire sequence of news items about individuals who have made themselves very important to us…
First, we would like to announce that our Programme Manager for Creative Learning, Dr Stephanie Hawke, will be moving on in September to a new, strategic role with our partners at Curious Minds. Curious Minds is the Arts Council’s bridge organisation for the North West region, responsible for connecting young people with the arts. Our team work regularly with them, delivering advisory and consultancy work, and this is a natural progression for Steph, and a new dimension for that partnership. It’s a terrific opportunity and we are delighted for her.
Steph has spent three and a half years on the MPA team, but the connection goes back much further, to a work experience stint as a 16 year old! Since our teenage volunteer reappeared she has made a vital contribution to our work. Her academic background in museum education, and her doctoral specialisms in sense of place and the notion of the ecomuseum have brought new dimensions to our work and have underpinned some lovely projects. We are glad Steph will still be just down the hill, and we are plotting to ensure that MPA continues to benefit from some of that arcane wisdom.
And then there is David. There has always been David, or so it seems to most of us. But shortly after Steph’s news, David Smith let us know that he is ready to take the work out of the work/life balance. Our Creative Learning Coordinator will be retiring at the end of October, and MPA will have to learn to get by without our spiritual guide.
David arrived in 1999 as our lottery funded Education Officer. MPA’s work with schools took off, and developed exponentially. Over 13 years he has built up an unmatched range of contacts with schools and teachers, and delivered some wonderful, inspirational creative projects. Two years ago, David swapped jobs with Steph, in one of those rare examples of turkeys voting for Christmas. Now he is taking the next step, and he will be very much missed.
This is a busy time for MPA, with a number of new projects in progress and in development. Portraits of the Past will be connecting many young people with Gawthorpe Hall. New music projects have been developed for young women of mixed cultures and early years pupils. Our structured volunteering programme will signpost opportunities for Arts Awards and other qualifications. Pennine Lancashire’s new canal partnership will add rich possibilities, as will our developing Contemporary Heritage series over the next couple of years. Learning and engagement will be vital dimensions of all our projects, and so we will be recruiting shortly to renew our team’s skillset. We are working now with our trustees on plans for that.
Meanwhile we will be saying bye and thanks to two brilliant contributors to MPA. If you are one of the many people who have worked with David over the years, ask us for news of how we will be marking his departure. Just don’t tell David!