Nicola Middler, Executive Producer of Journeys Festival International, tell us a bit more about herself and her role at ArtReach in the third instalment of ‘Get to know ArtReach.’
Sum yourself up in three words…
Reliable, creative, thoughtful (Had to ask around for help with this…tricky one to answer yourself!)
What do you do at ArtReach?
I’m ArtReach’s Executive Producer, with a particular focus on Journeys Festival International, our multi-artform Festival which celebrates and showcases exceptional refugee and asylum seeker artists and work which responds directly to, or is influenced by, the refugee experience. I also work on lots of other exciting and various ArtReach initiatives and thoroughly enjoy the diversity of my job! I’m currently acting on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester as their public art consultant, which is great as I get to work with some great public artists to develop work for new public transport interchanges to help enhance and animate the public realm. My weeks…in fact my days!… can be so varied – from programming a festival or attending a City of Sanctuary drop in to meet and socialise with local refugees and asylum seekers to commissioning public artists and writing funding bids! I manage a great team and enjoy developing staff, particularly our Young Producers. It’s great to help and support the careers of emerging talent!
Why did you want to be part of the ArtReach team?
I’ve worked in the arts, in various capacities for over 12 years now, and I am a qualified teacher. My real passion is arts education and finding ways to break down perceived ‘barriers’ to the arts, particularly for people and communities who think that art is exclusive or ‘not for them’. At ArtReach, I work on a variety of projects, all of which help to bring the arts into the public realm. I programme events and activities that help diverse communities to connect through creative exploration and share their skills. There shouldn’t be a divide when it comes to access to great art and culture, be that a mental or physical divide. So, I guess I wanted to be part of an organisation that aligned with this ethos!
Your favourite thing to do…
Baking. I find it really therapeutic and a great way to de-stress…plus the end products are usually pretty good…and popular in the office!
Who’s your hero?
I had to really rack my brains about this, as I was trying to force myself to think of a celebrity or an artist. I couldn’t do it! There are lots of artists (not celebs so much!) that I find inspiring, but I don’t KNOW them. So, I would have to say my grandma! She’s 90 years old and an absolute legend. She can turn her hand to anything (and often does!) she’s completely selfless, determined and has a cracking sense of humour.
Best thing about Leicester?
It’s location. We are bang in the centre of everywhere! But I would also say that the city’s diversity is an absolute asset too, Leicester is a cultural melting pot and it creates a wonderful vibrancy. I’d mention Leicester City too…but that’s a bit of a sore subject right now…
Plans for the future…
As I said before, I am passionate about arts and cultural education, and accessibility to the arts, so continuing to build on my work in that. Outside of work – travel (there are lots of city breaks on my list!), baking and developing another of my passions, upcycling and restoring furniture.