Backstage at The Lowry: Lucy Dusgate, programme manager – Quays Culture

Lucy

I lead the outdoor arts programme based here at the Quays – Quays Culture. Our remit is to bring great art to the outdoor spaces here at the Quays. It is an initiative set up by a Quays partnership between organisations that includes the BBC, Peel/MediaCityUK, Salford City Council, Trafford Borough Council, IWM North, University of Salford and of course The Lowry. The idea was driven by The Lowry as they and others recognised that the growing investment at the Quays was developing a vibrant and growing square mile. We want culture and creativity to be at the heart of establishing a unique identity of this place. By animating the public outdoor spaces with exciting contemporary art that sparks the public’s imagination and curiosity reflects on the past, present and future.

This has given me a great opportunity to work across the Quays with all the different partners, and bring some fantastic art to the public spaces here. Here are some examples of how we do this; Earlier this year we invited NVA (a Glasgow based international arts company) to perform their cultural olympiad piece ‘Speed of Light’ in response to this location. This involved hundreds of local runners in LED light suites performing a beautifully choreographed night show that illuminated the whole of the Quays. We had over 8,000 people come and watch over the three evenings and the crowds burst into spontaneous applause and gave us nothing but positive feedback. Then in July we presented the French company Ilotopie who performed ‘Water Fools’ actually on the water. It was a spectacular show of nightmares and fantasy with fireworks and performers bringing the Quays to life. It was fantastic to see the Quays packed out with a capacity crowd for the show. More recently we held the Quays Open Day in which the public could explore behind the scenes as to what goes on here at this new international home for digital media.

I get to work with so many organisations, audiences, artists and partners to make this programme happen. For me that is one of the most exciting parts of my job. This can be anything from a local based artist, a Greater Manchester network of people to an international art organisation with exciting new work. I have a small but committed team that work with me from our base her at The Lowry, and the support we get from across this organisation and beyond has been fantastic. I love bringing a new take on art in the public realm to audiences from across the city-region and beyond. Hopefully we deliver work that inspires and surprises audiences, and also makes them respond and think about the Quays in a new or different way. It is also exciting to work with artists and reshape and scale-up their art to work in the Quays. This is a large place, and a great canvas for bringing high quality art to audiences.

Previously I have worked in the arts for over 20 years. I started as a photographer, moved into film and then into the visual arts. Past roles have been at organisations such as the ICA in London, Royal Court Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, in the Picture House art-house cinemas, Lime Arts (art in healthcare), Community Arts NW and at Arts Council England. Media art has always been a central theme and interest for me, but as there were few formal routes to working in the arts it has been a mix of hard work, persistence and good support from colleagues that has shaped my career. I love working at the Lowry and driving forward the Quays Culture programme on behalf of the partnership. It can be complicated at times, but essentially I’ve found that you have to enjoy what you are doing and make the most of opportunities when they come you way.

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