Earlier this year Quay Arts, in Newport on the Isle of Wight, appointed Robert Miles as Artistic Director.
Ingénu/e caught up with him despite his busy schedule and discussed his appointment and his vision for the future of Quay Arts. For the past seven years Robert had been Artistic Director at The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre in Somerset, receiving national recognition for reinvigorating the programme, significantly increasing earned income and Arts Council investment. However in 2011 Somerset County Council became the first local authority to cut its arts funding by 100%, leading to the closure of The Brewhouse in February this year. I asked Robert about this radical cut in funding and his view on the future of funding for the arts generally.
“The arts are a great earner for the country’s economy and with seed funding cut it’s a great concern to everyone in the creative industries. Creativity is something the UK is really good at; take the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies for instance, or the success of games creators here. We haven’t seen the end of it and the loss of our cultural landscape would be a very sad thing.”
Robert was attracted to Quay Arts because it has a different mix of activities and services that add to the creative platforms, such as the café, the craft shop, wedding events and conferences. It is funded by the local authority who recognises the value in the strong, sustainable model. Robert sees Quay Arts as catering for two communities; the Island, where it’s not so easy to go elsewhere and is something of a captive audience, and visitors to the Island, three million per year, each with different cultural needs and wants. “It’s somewhat cathartic getting on the boat to come to the Island to focus on creativity,” Robert added. “It’s a niche we can offer and interaction between the Island’s cultural groups and the mainland is something we want to develop, collaborating with the best local and national artists.”
Robert has been very impressed with the community support for Quay Arts and is really happy with the work of the volunteers and, in fact, the arts centre is advertising for more. Clear about his vision for the future, Robert would like to partner up with other artists, make the IOW a sort of new Cornwall, a cultural destination; it would be good for Quay Arts and also for the local economy. He would like to see Quay Arts champion the Island, becoming a creative hub and providing a platform for work, helping artists and craftspeople from the Island and the mainland. Ultimately he wants Quay Arts to be a unique and interesting place to visit.
‘Chasing Sputnik’ at the West Gallery until Saturday 23rd November Three artists Roy Brown, Julia Flatman and Tom Hall, inspired by the space race, have collaborated to produce a project called Chasing Sputnik, an investigation into the former rocket testing facility of the British Space Programme at High Down on the Island. Working in partnership with Quay Arts, Arts University Bournemouth and the National Trust; the artists have recreated giant rockets in cardboard along with photographs of performance, text work on light boxes, a pair of leather maps and a sculpture with a working CB radio.
DUET: West Gallery 7th December – 15th February This year’s Open exhibition at Quay Arts is called DUET and is all about collaboration – working with one another on a shared idea or concept. Local artists selected will be exhibiting throughout the period with a sought-after prize for the winners selected.
Visit www.quayarts.org for full information about upcoming events.