A group of people in conversation
Photo: Greta Zabultye

100 Days at Revoluton: Natter, Network and Navigate

In my first few months as Revoluton’s new CEO and Creative Director, my aim has been to meet as many people as possible. Hello to those I’m yet to meet!

It’s a privilege to have joined Revoluton – a creative entity that describes itself as people-powered. The programme we design, the events we put on, and the projects we deliver are all inspired by the people of Luton.

My passion for people and partnerships has been the driving force throughout my professional life. I began my career as a theatre-maker – devising, writing and producing shows about underground music sub-cultures, telling the stories of people from the rave scene. You might say I’ve found my natural habitat, based at Marsh House, working with Luton’s original party people!

I’ve worked mainly across London and the South East, in roles and projects motivated by social change. I’ve been a teacher in Tottenham; delivered regional regeneration and skills programmes; directed creative programmes in a number of organisations; and I’ve also done what arts professionals often refer to as ‘national service’, working for over six years at Arts Council England, including in a national policy role for children and young people.

Leaders are often asked what they would like to achieve in their first 100 days in post. I refer back to my notes from the recruitment process – what did I say? Have things gone to plan?

The 100-day plan is kind of like a birthing plan – there are no guarantees! One can have best intentions for a zen-like water delivery, but nature may not play ball.

However, I’m delighted as I look back over my notes, which outlined a plan to meet with community leaders, artists and strategic partners, and to revisit the values for Revoluton, convening an event for stakeholders to begin this conversation.

And, this is how it’s been! Well, almost…

As a team, soon after I started in post, we began to talk about a ‘rebirth’ moment (you’ll notice there’s a theme here) – an opportunity to come together with people from our community, as we venture into a new phase for Revoluton.

A fortnight ago, we hosted Have Your Say the (Revo)Luton Way, a creative listening event, asking those in attendance to tell us what’s important to the people of Luton. Sadly, I could not be there, as nature determined a period of Covid self-isolation. So, I opened the event via Zoom – a sort of ‘home birth’ moment for me, which very definitely wasn’t the plan!

It was an honour to work with artist RM Sánchez-Camus (Marcelo), Applied Live Art, to host the event. The themes emerging from the day included: a need to support our local community and businesses; to show up for each other and be present; the importance of equality and showing empathy for the needs of others – all of which chime beautifully with Revoluton’s values and principles.

In the last three months, during my time at Revoluton, much has happened. In my handover with my predecessor Jenny Williams BEM, I was informed of an almost too-good-to-be-true investment opportunity via Bloomberg Philanthropies. An application was made within a fortnight, and we’re delighted to share we were successful in our application to join the Bloomberg Digital Accelerator programme.

We also received welcome news via our partners leading the Global Streets programme that funding has been secured to bring Dundu Giants of Light to Luton in October. This will result in a spectacular procession with a giant puppet of light leading the way from Bury Park into the town centre – there’ll be plenty of opportunity for the community to be involved.

Revoluton also hosted its first ever entirely youth-led Open Mic night. This happened a few weeks back at Marsh House. The talent was phenomenal, and producers Ldeea and Lavz did an outstanding job in delivering the event.

As we venture into this new phase, our work is far from done – there are more people we want to reach, more areas of Luton we need to understand, more change we want to make. And we can’t do this alone!

It takes partnership and collaboration to make change; to truly understand what’s important to the people of Luton; to understand the challenges people face, the creative interventions people would welcome, and work to collectively grow a thriving creative identity for Luton.

I want to thank the Revoluton team and our partners for making me so welcome. We are a growing team with huge ambition and much to deliver – we can only achieve this in partnership with Luton’s communities.

Please reach out. My plan to natter, network and navigate continues – inviting many more to join the Revoluton!

With all good wishes,