We talk to Laura Drane:
1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
I am an independent arts/ cultural producer and consultant, currently based in Cardiff and working all over the UK. I specialise in festivals and work that has particular focus on public engagement, whether that’s productions that I initiate or work I do for clients. I’ve been running my own small agency doing this since 2002. In addition to being a parent of two small children, I’m also on the board of Theatr Iolo (a theatre company that makes work for children and young people) and chair of the What Next? chapter in Cardiff (What Next Culture).
2) Why did you join the RSA?
I first joined because it met a number of my personal and professional interests – the arts and culture, social justice, education, and so on - and at the time I was living in Manchester where there was a very robust and lively network of Fellows. I also find it handy to use RSA House as a bolt hole when am in London.
3) What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about the work I produce and the difference it can make, and its value to both people and place. Seeing someone have a lightbulb moment because of an interaction with an artist, or through a cultural experience, is why I keep doing it. It might come through a piece of street art that I’ve produced with artist Micah Purnell, or through a science festival I’ve programmed, like Amazed By Science (Cheshire, 24/5-1/6), but however it comes, it’s special. That and being my own boss!
4) What makes you angry?
The erosion of the value of arts and culture throughout the UK – which is why I’m chair of the What Next? chapter that meets in Cardiff every Friday morning (see http://www.whatnextculture.co.uk/) I believe that the arts is something that enables us all to be more fully human and it’s a fundamental human right in terms of being creative and having freedom for self-expression.
5) What would you change in society given the chance?
The criminal justice system. My mum was a magistrate for more than 20 years and I spent a fair bit of my youth sitting in the back of her courts waiting for her to finish a session. That and her experiences as a member of the Board of Prison Visitors (now known as Independent Monitoring Boards) gave me real insight into how broken that whole system is, especially for families, children and young people.
6) What is the most important lesson you’ve ever learnt?
Be yourself; no-one’s expecting you to be any more or less or different, so just share who you are and what you’re like. Authenticity is my watchword for myself and others.
7) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?
Hearing Welsh Government confirm the recommendations of the Dai Smith report into Arts In Education – Wales may yet be the UK country leading the way in this really important area that crosses into many of my professional and personal interests.
8) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
I’ve got a list as long as my arm – Wendy Sadler, Wiard Sterk, Gareth Rein, Nadine Andrews, Ruth Churchill Dower, how long have you got? If I had to pick a really recent one though, I’d say Mark Ball who’s the Artistic Director of LIFT, who I heard speak on a festival’s residential last week.
9) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything (i.e. experience, expertise etc) you would like from other Fellows.
I’m about to launch a crowdfunding campaign for my newest creative production – a youth opera performed by and for young people in their teens and twenties, resetting the Greek myth of Pandora in a contemporary high school – with a dash of biomedical themes about genetics/ environment to boot! So if you’re passionate about opera, performance, young people, STEM or public engagement, please look out for Pandora’s Locker and support me in raising awareness for it and giving if you can. Thanks!