Venu Dhupa has just completed nearly three years work with Creative Scotland as Director of Creative Development as part of the senior start-up team. Her responsibilities included the Arts, a number of Investment Programmes and International Strategy and Engagement. Prior to working at Creative Scotland she was working as a consultant and had her own publishing company.
Former employment has been: World-wide Director of Arts for the British Council where she led and completed the first international consultation/review in 25 years on the Council's global arts strategy; Director of Creative Innovation at the Southbank Centre, London (Europe's largest cultural centre). The Creative Innovation unit was imagined as a tool for introducing new partners to the organisation as well as an organisational development tool; Fellowship Director at The UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) where she managed a portfolio valued at £13million; Chief Executive at the Nottingham Playhouse; and Producer (Mobile Touring) at the Royal National Theatre.
She was the inaugural Chair of the East Midlands Cultural Consortium appointed by the Secretary of State at the Department of Culture Media and Sport. Her career history has always balanced creative exploration and strategy with implementation and delivery. This has been an important balance in developing a judgement for accountability with risk. Her motivation remains good customer service, good value and positive social change and these continue to drive her as an activist.
She is or has been a Trustee of the Theatres Trust, a Member of University College London's Heritage Committee, the external examiner for UEA MA in Creative Entrepreneurship; a Governor of Guildford Conservatoire, a Council Member of Loughborough University, a Member of the Institute of Ideas and a Member of the European Cultural Parliament. She is a patron of the Asha Foundation. She has been awarded the prestigious National Asian Woman of Achievement Award for her contribution to the Arts and Culture.
In the 1990s a courageous operator called Titus Leber, from Austria, spent two years working with IBM Europe on a visionary project, collecting digital reference material which reflected the many cultures within Europe. That project was the subject of global discussions at the time about the concept of ‘content-ware’ which was a conversation developing in parallel to the idea of software and hardware. It is now dormant with the intellectual property remaining with Titus.
Since then, Titus has travelled extensively, living in Asia for 17 years where he created two major interactive projects:
More recently his interest has shifted to the African continent, travelling and living there for months at a time. Still ahead of the curve in his thinking, his current passion is to work with key cultural figures in Africa to collect and preserve evidence of the multi-various cultures within different regions and/or tribal contexts, many of which are rapidly disappearing. Sometimes in this pursuit Titus finds himself in situations that you and I would find too risky or plain dangerous. He is not only a man of his convictions, which takes courage, but his activity also literally requires stamina and courage. Here Titus talks about this project for which he is constantly trying to raise enthusiasm and funds:
I am a contemporary artist who loves to play around and mingle with colour. This is what describes me these days. Painting for me is a way to express my deepest feelings and emotions which otherwise I find difficult to communicate. Life amazes me. Questions about our existence, our purpose in life and life beyond death often perplex me. Who are we humans? Why are we all so different? Why are we treated differently based on man-made falsities? These are some of the questions I seek answers to.
I was recently at an invigorating gathering in Luxembourg called Trans-Atlantic Dialogues and was fortunate to run into a young woman called Johanna Suo. I have known Johanna for four years; we met in Berlin when she was speaking at the launch of the European Cultural Parliament Youth Network. Since then she has been involved with various European networks and I am always impressed by her clarity of vision and tenacity. She is young and energetic and, having worked at Innovation Culture Europe (www.ice-eu.net ), conceptualised a project about European identity for the Goethe-Institut Paris and is now working as Director of Development at Culture and Media Agency Europe (www.culture-media.eu). She has extensive European knowledge. Recently she was awarded the Marshall Memorial Fellowship (aiming to strengthen Trans-Atlantic relations and understanding). I'm pleased to include her in my Women of Influence series. I managed to get a few minutes of her time to hear about one of her latest initiatives.
It gives me great pleasure to share a conversation with Joost whose innovative work was brought to my attention by Daphne Thissen, a smart operator for the Netherlands Embassy in London. Joost is the current Minister of the Dutch Church in London and also the Director of the Dutch Centre which is co-located with the Church. We met in the crypt .....
I have never really considered myself 'creative' and I very much admire people who have a clear distinctive creative streak. However, if by creative you mean someone who is curious, hard-working and not afraid to take up challenge, then yes, I'm creative with a quite determined side.