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After twenty years at the helm, our Artistic Director and CEO, Colette Bailey, will be leaving Metal in November 2021.

Colette has worked to build Metal from its inception in 2002 into an established and distinctive arts organisation that has a unique place within the cultural ecology of the UK.  Now with a base in three regional UK cities, renovation projects in each place have transformed disused buildings of historic significance into vibrant cultural and community hubs to host artists and projects that shift perspectives and create necessary spaces for artistic talent and creative ideas development.   The work she has inspired is always artist-led and has an artist centered approach, always being rooted in community and place.  Over the course of her tenure, she has established a number of large-scale Metal projects, including: 10 editions of arts and music festival Village Green; the world’s first digital art park NetPark; and a major new Visual Art, Literature, Music and Film festival, Estuary, along the North Kent and South Essex coastline of the Thames Estuary.  She has also undoubtedly galvanized creativity in children and young people through projects like Thames to Tama (2011); Anthem (2012), On The Line (2013) and adults too with the establishment of Metal Art School (2015) and the NetPark Wellbeing Programme (2016) whilst providing development and support for many emerging (now established) arts organisations, e.g. 20 Stories High (in Liverpool) and The Old Waterworks and TOMA (both in Southend).

Colette’s leadership approach has built a tight knit team of 16 permanent employees at Metal, fostering deeply held values of experimentation, talent development, inclusion and participation.  Through her nurturing of Metal’s values, Colette has ensured stability for its future, building partnerships and long term relations. These include Metal’s role as an Arts Council England NPO, succeeding in joining the portfolio in 2008 and maintaining this to the present day. 

Colette said “I have loved every minute of my time at Metal, working with the fantastic team across Southend, Peterborough and Liverpool.  I’m hugely appreciative of the amazing support and partnership of Arts Council England and each of our Local Authorities in Liverpool, Peterborough and Southend throughout – along with many, many brilliant and inspiring artists and arts partners.  I’m so proud of everything that we have achieved in this time and am leaving the organisation in a strong position to continue to do great things into the future.  I’ll be handing over the baton of a great job for someone to shape the next 20 years.”

Colette was Metal’s first Managing Director working directly with Founder and then Artistic Director, Jude Kelly CBE.  She took on the dual role of Artistic Director and CEO in 2006 as Jude moved into being Metal’s full time Chair.  She is leaving Metal to take up a new role as Executive Director of The WOW Foundation, founded by Jude, and thus taking her back into a day to day, direct working relationship – something both are very much looking forward to.

Metal’s Board takes this opportunity to wish Colette all the very best of luck with her onward adventures and thanks her for all the great energy, ideas and commitment she has brought to the role.

“Colette’s leadership of Metal through times that have been far from easy for Arts organisations has been inspirational. Metal has always functioned without an effective precedent to follow, which has always that meant most of the territory that Colette and the team have faced was uncharted. As a board member, it has been my privilege to be part of this epic journey and, although Colette will surely be missed, she leaves Metal in perfect shape for the next artistic director to face the future with confidence and build an exciting new stage for the organisation.” Ian Thompson, Metal Board Member

The recruitment process for a new Artistic Director and CEO for Metal will start in the next few weeks – please keep an eye out on our website and social media for announcements – or sign up to our newsletter from our homepage, to be absolutely sure you don’t miss details.

Metal’s Artistic Director and CEO Colette Bailey to step down in November 2021