Rachel Clare, Artistic Director of Crying Out Loud, names those have inspired her throughout her career.
When I was in my mid-twenties, a chance meeting with Val in the foyer of the Institute of Contemporary Arts unexpectedly propelled me forward into the world of programming and artist development. She was looking for someone to manage the Yolande Snaith dance company and the performance group Ralf Ralf. Whilst I didn't take up her offer, her suggestion did plant the seed of the idea that I could consider working with artists as a producer instead of pursuing my career as an artist – I was trying to establish myself as a theatre designer at the time. She sent me off to CINARS, the arts market in Montreal, to run the booth for young UK artists including Ra-Ra Zoo, with whom I was working part-time. Being thrown in at the deep end by Val was my first training for the job I now do.
Toni was Artistic Director of the International Festival of Sitges, an inspirational hot-bed of European visual theatre and site-specific immersive theatre. His inclusive approach and insistence on open, creative daily dialogues opened up a new world to me. He shared his knowledge and address book generously without question to encourage European collaboration and creativity, introducing me to local artists in Barcelona and Madrid. The fact that he made time in his busy life to meet me made a deep impression and I have since tried to do the same for other people early in their careers. I once suggested setting up as an independent producer in Spain. He looked me in the eye and gently insisted that English artists needed people like me and that l could get my fix with Spanish artists by bringing them to the UK instead, and build a European network for touring and collaboration. These experiences helped lay the foundations for the role I now play as Crying Out Loud’s Artistic Director.
Last year I was at a meeting for Cultural Capitals of Europe in Marseille, dedicated to developing the role of Circus in current and future Capitals. One of the speakers was Laurent Drèano, a visionary in his previous roles as Culture and Celebration Activities Director in Lille and General Coordinator for Lille European Capital of Culture 2004. For years I have marvelled at his programmes, regularly visiting the cross-artform festivals that impressively take over the whole metropolitan region with visual art, circus, street arts, installations and spectacle on an impressive scale. Laurent’s tireless work dedicated to disrupting and transforming metropolitan cities with creativity continues to inspire me and has been the source of many ideas for my work with Crying Out Loud, Manchester International Festival and the Secret Circus at Piccadilly Circus in 2012 for the Cultural Olympiad.
Judith Knight and Gill Lloyd
The first site-specific production that absolutely knocked my socks off was the Bow Gamelan Ensemble. When I started working at Watermans in 1987, I was excited to meet Judith Knight and Gill Lloyd who were producing Bow Gamelan along with a host of other artists whose work I found inspiring. When they asked me to be on their board, I was apprehensive as I felt too inexperienced, but I learnt so much over the seven years and it gave me the confidence to set up Crying Out Loud. Judith and Gill have been my day-to-day gurus in how to run a creative organisation with flexibility and resourcefulness, how to think outside the box and how to make things happen. Now Crying Out Loud is based in Toynbee Studios so we see each on a daily basis.
When I was first freelancing in the 1990s, I often struggled balancing work and being a new mother. Curator and writer Jeni Walwin was someone I learnt a great deal from. We worked together on an art project at Broadgate and I often turned to her for advice and support as we'd both just had children – her third child and my first. Her on-the-ball clear thinking and incisive approach to work was illuminating to me – as were her ingenious domestic solutions to being a working mother. Her curatorial eye and flair for placing artists in exceptional circumstances have influenced my curating process to this day. She was a valued member of Crying Out Loud's board for seven years.
Rachel Clare is Artistic Director of Crying Out Loud, a creative producing company for contemporary performance.