Bristol’s Mr Culture & Creativity – interview with Dick Penny

Interview from Guardian Culture Professionals Network with Dick Penny, managing director, Watershed

The Bristol arts centre chief on the city’s unique creative position, its elected mayor and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Hi Dick, what can you tell me about Watershed? Does it have an overall mission or aim?

We are constantly refining our role to stay relevant and useful. Currently,Watershed’s mission is to place cultural engagement, imagination and ingenuity at the heart of our lives, believing that the route to better futures is open, disruptive and co-produced.

Many praise the way Bristol has embraced tech, its willingness to experiment and so on – what is it about the city that has allowed it be so open and disruptive?

I think you have it in your question – collectively we have seized the opportunity presented by digital disruption and created a movement of genuine fusion. There is real respect here for difference and invention; a culture where people want to help, even if they don’t get what it is that you’re trying to do; a sharing of ambition and engagement between artist and audience.

A report by Yellow Railroad in 2010 summed it up well: “The single strongest, overriding characteristic that unites and influences all aspects of Bristol’s personality is the spirit of innovation, creativity and unorthodoxy”.

Read on here.


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