A former TV actor and theatre director is set to take a leading role at Lancaster University’s public arts programme.
Jocelyn Cunningham will take over as Director of Lancaster Arts, which offers a diverse range of contemporary exhibitions and performances on behalf of the University and co-stakeholder Arts Council England, from today (1 November).
Jocelyn has been both an actor and director in the UK and Canada for more than 25 years. Her first theatre job was at the Manchester Library Theatre and she did a stint in popular northern-based soap opera Emmerdale, in which she played University lecturer Jude Clayton.
She has led arts and education initiatives for more than 20 years, most notably Creative Partnerships in north London. She sits on the Advisory Panel of the Connected Communities programme and is a frequent speaker at many higher education events.
Her work with higher education over the last 16 years encompasses the development of numerous bespoke Masters programmes in education and the arts as well as a role within Arts Council England advising on new models of partnership between arts organisations and higher education.
As Director of Arts at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), Jocelyn developed a new direction for the arts entitled Arts and Society. This helped to shape flagship initiatives, Citizen Power in Peterborough and People Shaped Localism in Wiltshire. She also led the RSA programme, Creative Intersections, the first partnership of artists and academics as part of the Creative Futures programme at Kings College London in 2012.
These particular strands of work explored capacity building for the local creative sector and public service innovation. Her work focused upon how arts and creativity can strengthen collaboration, cross sector working and new ways of thinking about where we live and how we connect with each other for positive social change. Much of her thinking is summarized in the RSA publication, Knitting Together Arts and Social Change.
Jocelyn is an Associate of the RSA and created a social enterprise, Arts and Society arising from these RSA approaches to new ways of working. She acts as a critical friend for many cultural initiatives as part of her arts consultancy, Other Ways of Working. As a critical friend with two contrasting cultural education partnerships, the East London Cultural Education Programme (ELCEP) working with the Barbican Guildhall and the Create Gloucestershire model, she has published numerous case studies and recommendations papers.
Currently Jocelyn is working with Make Culture Work, an initiative designed to address a whole place approach to evaluation funded by Arts Council England and with Create Gloucestershire in an innovative model of co-production with the NHS, arts organisations, and the third sector. Both adopt an Asset Based Community Development approach.
She has two daughters, Scarlett, a landscape architect living in Bath and Malaika, a theatre director in Sheffield and a researcher in arts and politics with the Crick Centre.
Jocelyn said: “I am very excited to be joining Lancaster Arts and working with the University, Lancaster itself and the wider region. Working alongside the faculty conducting world leading academic research and a dynamic student body offers tremendous potential for ground breaking arts programming and innovative engagement with the creative community in the region. A special combination and unique offer for everyone in the city to engage with.”
The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Simon Guy, said: “Jocelyn will bring a wealth of international experience, a collaborative ethos and a strong commitment to social engagement to Lancaster Arts.”
“Since its inception in 1964 Lancaster University has fostered a programme of arts and arts activities. Led by Jocelyn Cunningham, our new arts strategy will build on this tradition to cement the reputation of Lancaster University for innovation, creativity and excellence in the arts, stimulating the cultural agenda and ecologies at regional, national and international levels.”