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Embracing the “weird” in Live Art

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Aaron Wright talks about how he became Programmes Manager at the Live Art Development Agency

Meet the Professionals with Aaron Wright, Programmes Manager at the Live Art Development Agency, took place on Monday 2 June 2014 from 1.30 - 2.30 pm at Kuriya Keiko, N7 8GR

“If it’s a bit weird we’ll probably like it” - this is how Aaron Wright describes the approach to programming at the Live Art Development Agency, where Aaron is Programmes Manager. For more clarification, Live Art is defined by Aaron as anything that is “not quite” performance, theatre or art and that focuses on the live event. LADA’s work includes curating live art projects, coordinating the Live Art UK network, providing bursaries and professional development for artists and publishing Live Art books and films. Since being established in 1999, LADA now houses a research library with over 6000 items pertaining to Live Art.

Aaron traces his interest in Live Art back to his teenage years before he even knew such a term existed. He was a fan of punk music and experimental artists like Bjork, musical tastes which he recognises as the start of a “slippery slope into weirdness”. Born in Kiddiminster, Aaron was the first in his family to go to University and he studied English Literature and Drama at Birmingham before going on to do a Masters in History and Film. Career-wise he was ambitious to work in the arts, and he used his time as a student to get involved as much as he could in the cultural activity of the university and the city. He joined the film society, became music editor for the student paper, got an internship for a music festival, volunteered on Hospital radio and supported all this with a part-time job in an arts centre. Aaron modestly puts a lot of the success of his career trajectory down to luck, but it is clear that he is one of those people with enviable amounts of energy and initiative.

Not knowing exactly what career path he wanted to take, Aaron spent his time in the transition from education to work building up a strong arts-orientated CV and gaining insight into different aspects of the arts industry. For a while he thought he might like to work in television and got a job working for Maverick TV on programs like Embarrassing Bodies, before becoming a runner at BBC Birmingham. His TV career highlight was spending a day as Nick Clegg’s body double during the 2010 Elections campaign - a potential concept for a Live Art performance perhaps? Deciding that TV was not for him he saw the offer for a Paid Traineeships at the Live Art Development Agency. From there he progressed from Programme Co-ordinator to Company Manager and became Programmes Manager -  a more artistic, curatorial role - in 2012. His own measure of success is when he first started to be invited to the industry Christmas parties, which he says also took about two years.

Characteristically, on moving to the capital Aaron challenged himself to visit every arts venue in the city in order to get a feel of the London scene as well as being a useful orienteering exercise. It is this sense of thoroughness that he attributes to his success in job interviews – he always made sure to read every page of an organisation’s website before an interview. When asked how he found so much motivation and discipline Aaron’s answer was simple but inspiring: stick to what you love, “if you are genuinely excited about something then it won’t seem so much like work any more.” Especially if it’s a bit weird…

Words: Lilia Prier Tisdall 

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