The director of Culture Central, Erica Love talks about the challenges facing cultural groups and individuals in the pandemic and her own personal goals – to run further and faster!
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
A born and bred Stokie, I started my working life in business in customer service. After working in Wales, I moved back to Stoke in 2005 as operations manager for Creative Partnerships Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, delivering creative learning programmes to more than 55 schools across the county. In 2009, we set up Partners in Creative Learning (PICL), where we continued to deliver the Creative Partnerships Programme. In 2012, Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme was launched and we worked with the New Vic Theatre (and others) as a consortium partner to apply for Appetite Stoke, a programme to put communities at the heart of the art in the city. Last year I was asked to cover maternity for the project director role at Appetite. I then applied for the job as director of Culture Central, starting in December 2019, and it’s been a wild ride since then.
IT’S WHAT I DO
Culture Central is a membership-based cultural sector support organisation, representing the voice of the cultural organisations and individuals, initially in Birmingham. As director my first job was to re-position the organisation, ensuring it was delivering on member priorities, understand Birmingham and how we can feed into all the other city wide priorities. Covid-19 really took the rug out from the sector however, with venues and activity stopping overnight. We set up the West Midlands Culture Response Unit to bring together people who work in all areas of arts and culture to make sure we have a voice at the regional and national level, provide support and advice and work together to share the fantastic stuff the artists and organisations in our region do, as well as inspire and provide hope to the people in our region.
WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE
My professional ambition is to see this sense of collaboration, community and connectivity stay long after life has got back to ‘normal’ and see Birmingham and the region recognise and shout loudly about the unbelievable talent we have here and that the powers-that-be truly value the contribution we make to both or economy and our quality of life. For me personally, I would like to continue to develop my leadership practice and share what I have learnt along the way, get my MBA and maybe one day be invited to do a Ted Talk.
Professionally, it was taking on the being the director of PICL and making it a really successful and well-respected organisation outside of a big national programme. Personally, I would want to be cheesy and say my daughter because she probably is, but outside of that is the fitness journey I have embarked on over the last four years, and so far, completing a standard distance triathlon – next up marathon.
BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED
To believe in myself a bit more.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BRUM
I love the eclectic nature of Birmingham, the sense of city but also green space, the breadth of things you can do on a Friday night under normal circumstances. I also love food and wine, and Birmingham is pretty epic for those things. The list of new things to try and places to go will keep me going for a lifetime,
Running and exercise is my church, along with netball, a space where the only thing that matters is that moment in time. I also love a good board game.