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Andrea Cunningham steps up as the new Director of Metal in Southend – the arts organisation based at Chalkwell Hall in Chalkwell Park. Metal supports artists of all artforms across the region to develop their creative practice. Metal develops ideas for new cultural experiences to expand pride of place and unlock creative potential within our communities. This can include large-scale festivals, creative activities for young people and a whole range of cultural experiences for local, regional and national audiences – most recently Metal led the Estuary 2021 multi-arts festival attracting over 208k people to the region to explore 94 artworks in the landscape.

Cunningham brings a range of creative skills and expertise to the post from many years of working in museums, galleries and the cultural sector, particularly around working with children and young people. Formally Head of Learning & Skills at the V&A Museum of Childhood, she has a passion for inspiring young people around the potential of creativity:

“I am delighted to be taking on this role at Metal. Since I moved to the area in 2006, I have been bowled over by the range and richness of the cultural landscape in South Essex and I am hugely excited to build on the brilliant work of the Southend Metal team to strengthen partnerships and community connections through creativity. “

Core to Metal’s work is the support they give to local artists through residency programmes, encouraging them to explore new ideas and directions. Recent resident and street artist Scotty Brave said:

“I felt encouraged and validated by the residency at Metal….it really helped me open my eyes to where I have been and where I am going as an artist”

The changes come following the departure of the long-standing CEO & Artistic Director Colette Bailey, who is moving on after 20 years at Metal to a new role at the Women of the World Foundation. A new CEO & Artistic Director for Metal is currently being recruited and will support the whole organisation across the Southend, Peterborough and Liverpool sites. 

This is an exciting time of change for Metal and a boost to their ongoing commitment to creativity in this community. 

New Director at Metal Southend