Didsbury Arts Festival welcomes New Director, Rodney Adams
Rod has worked for more than 20 years as a Creative Producer, Programmer and Consultant - working across the youth, community and creative sectors - delivering major projects and events to diverse communities across Greater Manchester and beyond.Rod is particularly committed to promoting cultural diversity and positive social change through the arts, engaging with disadvantaged communities and harder to reach groups.
Interview by Deborah Grace Rodney Adams:
What is your connection with Didsbury?
- I was born and bred in sunny Huddersfield. I went to university in Sheffield before working as an arts officer in Leeds, followed by a role as the events manager at the University of Bradford. So it was all about Yorkshire, until I started delivering freelance, creative projects for organisations across the country and moved over to the Withington/Didsbury border in 2010. I fell in love with the cosmopolitan atmosphere and stayed for a few years before life took me to Lancashire, but I still find every excuse possible to come back frequently to the Didsbury area, and the majority of my work now is based in and around Manchester. I'm hoping to be a full-time Didsbury resident again soon!
How did you get started in arts and the community?
- When my parents met, Mum was a singer, and my Dad was in a touring Motown band (supporting the likes of Joe Cocker!).My grandparents on both sides made and performed music in the Caribbean, so I guess you could say the arts are in my blood.Throughout my education I was focussed on visual art and design, then I got my music fix by becoming a successful DJ and then a promoter, working with a number of high-profile UK and international artists. But it was my role as the multicultural officer at Sheffield Hallam University that set my life on a new path. There I worked with hundreds of international students helping them to deliver culturally important events that heavily featured the arts, such as Diwali, Chinese New Year, Black History Month and One World Week. This vibrant mix of culture and creativity really captivated me! Since then I've worked in the creative sector across the UK, as an Arts Officer, Event Manager, Promoter, Venue Manager, Creative Producer, Programmer and Consultant.
What are your priorities for developing DAF over the next 12 months?
- Our theme for the 2023 festival is 'Voices'.The arts are powerful because they give people – all people – a voice!A voice to tell a story; to convey a feeling; to express a political or socially relevant message.I want DAF2023 to be a people's arts festival, with lots of opportunities to watch, to engage, to be seen and heard and to create! We can all become artists; we just need the opportunity.I'd love to showcase high calibre and professional talent from across the full spectrum of the arts.I also want to connect with sections of the community that may not have engaged with the festival before, creating as many magical, 'Wow' moments as possible!
How important is the role of the arts in our communities?
- The arts can bring people together, break down barriers and raise aspirations.They can have a positive effect on how we feel about ourselves and others. I believe the arts are an essential component of any thriving town, city or culture.They have a key role to play in building strong communities and can be used to effect positive, social change. Some people may think they lack creativity but engaging with the arts can unlock potential and be life-enhancing.
Who/what inspires you?
- Being of Caribbean heritage, I've always been inspired by positive, black role models such as Pelé, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela.In the arts world, William Heath Robinson, MC Escher, and Rodin have always been among my favourites. And musicians like Otis Reading, Tupac, Anthony Hamilton, and Kings of Leon. I also love Automata (mechanical automated gadgets that capture your curiosity!).Making these would be a cool way to spend my days pottering about in the garden shed when I retire!
The next Didsbury Arts Festival takes place from 24 June to 2 July 2023.
Media Contact: Deborah Grace, 07979 908 871