New Artistic Director and CEO, Susie Thornberry, joins national arts organisation Metal

New Artistic Director and CEO, Susie Thornberry, joins national arts organisation Metal

Metal announces a new Artistic Director and CEO, Susie Thornberry following the departure of Colette Bailey who spent 20 years in the role, working closely with founder Jude Kelly CBE. Before joining Metal, Susie led public engagement and learning at Imperial War Museums (IWM).

“I’m excited to join Metal Culture at this pivotal moment in its history. Metal encourages wild experimentation, values diversity, brings people and ideas together, and tries to share joy through art. As we face tough times, these are qualities we need from our arts organisations. I look forward to working with the fantastic team, artists, audiences and partners, and to bringing new people and perspectives into Metal’s work and community in its next chapter.” – Susie Thornberry, Artistic Director and CEO

The programme Susie led in her previous role at IWM, aimed to share the human impact of conflict and included: an artwork about nuclear and climate threat that took over Piccadilly Circus and received five star reviews; the UK’s first Syrian death metal performance; lockdown work with BBC Learning that engaged millions of schoolchildren; Field Music’s album about the end of the First World War that was called “clever, illuminating brilliance” by the Irish Times and ‘We Were There’, which gave visitors and people with direct experience of conflict such as refugees, journalists and veterans a chance to come together.

Metal’s Founder and Co-Chair Jude Kelly, CBE said: “I founded Metal over 20 years ago to support artists and communities to work together creatively in ways that would make both thrive. Susie arrives with a heartfelt commitment to our values and mission, and a powerful set of skills and experiences that make her an ideal person to lead us forward into the next decade. It’s a challenging time for the UK, and so it’s fantastic that Metal has such a determined and creative person at the helm.”

Susie’s roots are in theatre, public art and festivals and she’s held roles with Artichoke, The Gate Theatre and others, working across the UK from the Hebrides to the tip of Cornwall. She has played an advocacy role in the sector, with strong cultural and national links, and is a trustee of Battersea Arts Centre and a Commissioner of Historic England.

Andrea Stark, Metal’s Co-Chair explains: “Susie joins the organisation during a very exciting time whilst Metal celebrates its 20th year of operation. Bringing a wealth of experience from her previous role leading public engagement at Imperial War Museums, along with a great track record of working across the arts and wider cultural sector, I know that Susie will continue to build on Metal’s fantastic commitment to building stronger, healthier and happier communities, through art, culture and creativity.”

Metal is currently celebrating its 20th birthday year and was recently successful in its bid to remain an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation for a further three years from 2023 – 2026. This funding will allow Metal to continue its artist development work and community programmes across the three sites in Southend, Liverpool and Peterborough. To celebrate 20 years of operation, Metal has been sharing memories of historic events across online platfoms, as well as launching a new website in October 2022 to capture its work over the years.

Mark Richards, Director of Metal Peterborough and interim CEO said: “We are over the moon to welcome Susie to the Metal family. I know she will be a dynamic and inspiring leader, drawing on her wealth of experience to take the organisation on an exciting journey over the coming years.”

Metal welcomes Susie to the organisation and looks forward to the years ahead.

Jamie Langstone
JLangstone@savs-southend.co.uk