MPA Alumni

Hundreds of staff members, freelancers and volunteers have worked with MPA over the years and as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations we’d like to (re)connect with as many former members of team MPA as possible.  If you’ve ever been a part of the team in a paid or voluntary capacity (including former Trustees and Executive Committee members) please get in touch.  Let us know when you worked with us, what you did and what you’re doing now.  Did being part of team MPA help you progress in your career? Did it open up opportunities for you? Did you enjoy your time with us? In fact share any memories you like!  Who was on the team at the same time?  Do you know where they are now?

Please send your details to Melanie, including whether you’re happy for us to share your name and reminiscences on the MPA website, Facebook page etc.  If you have any photographs of yourself ‘then’ and ‘now’ we’d love to have those too, plus any photographs of MPA in action when you were here!

Do get in touch.  50 years of high quality arts provision is something to celebrate and we want to have as many members of the MPA alumni involved as possible.

Here’s just a couple of the people we’ve heard from:

Julie Ward, was elected as an MEP for the North West at the European elections in May 2014 (she got in touch just prior to that), she worked for the Mid Pennine Association for the Arts (as it was then) in the 1970s:

‘I was on a Job Creation Scheme with MPAA in the late 1970s aged 20.  Now I am standing for election to be NW Labour MEP.  In-between times I have worked for Contact Theatre in Manchester, run Northern Shape (regional disability org for 5 counties) run festivals in Coventry, Nottingham & Durham, worked in Brazil, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand.  For the past 28 years I have been co-director of an arts co-op in rural North Pennines – Jack Drum Arts.  MPAA was the start of all that!’

The contact with Julie led to Jonathan Hyams who has a really fascinating career that took off with MPAA:

‘I came from London to Mid Pennine at the tender age of 24 on secondment from the Arts Council postgrad arts admin course and the then Directors, Ruari MacNeil and Jenny Wilson, seemed to rather like what I did and so they offered me the publicity job for the end of my course. Publicity in those days was really just about understanding how to use a Gestetner machine! But I became very interested in marketing the arts and made it my specialism. I became Marketing Officer for North West Arts and then moved South to be Director of Salisbury Arts Centre. I got quite a reputation for bringing commercial marketing thinking into the arts so after Salisbury I did marketing consultancy for about 5 years, working closely with Peter Verwey at the Arts Council, partnering with Keiren Phelan at first and then with the Comedia Consultancy where I became the Managing Director. Here I found a gap in the market for affordable ticketing software in the early 90s and had a complete change of direction, setting up my own software company Dataculture and creating the Databox ticketing software package which ultimately was the most popular system in the UK. I later sold that company to but then continued to work both in consultancy with Comedia where I help to create and run the Creative Cities Index, and also still with software, setting up Artlook Software Ltd to develop art gallery and artist business programs. Just lately I have had another shift, I am currently spending much of my time as UK Chief Executive of The Conversation, a groundbreaking media project publishing news analysis stories on a daily cycle where all the authors are academics – it’s a charity and needs a lot of funding but we are getting there.  

These days I live in the lovely city of Bristol – and also in the mountains near Malaga when I can – with my ceramicist wife Morag MacInnes.

My memories of MPAA are warm. I worked closely with John Virtue who helped me set up our first Community Arts Scheme, and with Daniel Meadows, then photographer in residence. I am pleased to say I am still in touch with both of these wonderful artists, now successful in their respective fields. TheatreMobile were one of our two resident theatre groups, the other being the incredibly advanced Welfare State with John Fox and Boris Haworth. I shall never forget parading the streets of Burnley at night with 10,000 other people on our way to set alight to a giant replica of the Houses of Parliament! Also as part of my work then, I presented the weekly arts programme at BBC Radio Blackburn (see images to the right).