Search

‘Fight on!’ says outgoing Wac Arts charity chief

PUBLISHED: 12:30 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:15 06 October 2016

Farewell: Celia Greenwood at her leaving party from Wac Arts

Farewell: Celia Greenwood at her leaving party from Wac Arts

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Famed Camden charity Wac Arts has appointed a new chief executive as Celia Greenwood steps down after 38 years of service.

The outgoing charity leader and co-founder said the “new landscape in arts funding” required skills that she “[doesn’t] necessarily have”.

In a scathing attack on cuts to the arts, Ms Greenwood said the fundraising landscape had “got so much tougher”.

“You’ve got a pincer movement. On the one hand there’s no public funding and on the other hand you’ve got the push from the government saying the arts curriculum has no real value and STEM subjects must be taught to everybody. So arts are being devalued.”

Wac Arts was set up in 1978 by Teresa Noble, Ed Berman and Celia Greenwood in response to the lack of performing arts provision for young people - particularly those from black and minority ethnic and disadvantaged backgrounds. Today Wac Arts has seen over 30,000 students pass through its doors, including the actress Sophie Okonedo and Mercury Prize -winning singer Ms Dynamite.

“Everyone is entitled to experience and enjoy the arts. Not just those who can pay hundreds of pounds to do so,” she said.

“We’ve had many years when we’ve been on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s stressful when you’re trying to do things for young people that the system is not really facilitating. Such as when you’re dealing with a young person who’s threatening suicide and you’re trying to get them urgent mental health support and it’s not there.”

Tommy Edwards, who has worked at Wac Arts for four and a half years, said he “will always remember” how his former bossed challenged his viewpoint. “Once I was indignantly complaining about young people changing because of technology,” he said.

“Celia showed me that was a narrow way of thinking. She said young people will always be young people and never conform. That’s why they’re great,”

The drama teacher said she is proud of all the students and staff she has worked with - whether they have gone on to win awards or “become parents of loving, stable families, of which they had no experience themselves”.

Hedi Dori, 37, who joined Wac Arts when she was five years old and came back to volunteer in her twenties, said: “When I was younger we all went on a camping trip. I had never been before and was quite nervous. But Celia made me feel relaxed and happy. She had time for everyone and no favourites,”

Ms Greenwood will continue “doing what I would do even if no one paid me”: teaching drama and speaking out about the lack of diversity and opportunity in the arts.

Karen Napier has been appointed the new chief executive. She trained as a dancer, and has for over two decades been responsible for building and leading teams in the arts world, including at Swarovski Foundation, London Business School and Southbank Centre.

Ms Greenwood’s message to her successor and the team is: “Fight on! Learn from your amazing staff team because they’re great - and vice versa.” To the students, she said: “You can be anything you want to be if you just want it enough.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 16:23

Up to 100 children looted cheap sweets from a supermarket off Stroud Green Road and threw missiles at cars in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Yesterday, 14:31

A third-floor room was badly damaged in a fire in Golders Green on Saturday night.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A “cowardly career criminal” who held vulnerable women at knifepoint during a six-week spree robbing shops has been jailed.

Friday, October 12, 2018

“It stank. It smelt like the goat pen at London Zoo.”

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Hampstead school has scrapped a pilot project that saw commercial helicopters landing on its playing fields after neighbours complained it was causing “quite a riot”.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hampstead’s well-known ceramics workshop, Well Walk Pottery, has been made an Asset of Community Value (ACV), boosting hopes it will stay as a workshop despite its rumoured sale.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pulses have been racing at a pilates class in Highgate Newtown Community Centre (HNCC) for some time.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hampstead Business Improvement District (BID) rebel Jimmy McGrath – who continues to defy requests to pay the BID levy – saw his day court appearance adjourned for a month yesterday at Highbury Corner magistrates’ court.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now