What kind of a year has 2015 been for you?
It’s been a glorious rollercoaster of a year from start to finish – a year of new beginnings. In my eighth – and what turned out to be final – year as director at Tramway we supported a significant artistic programme that included not only bringing the Turner Prize to Scotland for the first time but also the launch of our inaugural new dance biennial – Dance International Glasgow. DIG gained significant critical acclaim with performances by Louise Ahl, Claire Cunningham, Jérôme Bel, Luke Pell and Theo Clinkard amongst many others, and brought dance to significant new audiences in Glasgow. The Turner Prize was an incredible project to lead but it’s the quieter parts of your work that also have a part to play in the context of change – it was as important for me to complete the building of my team with the recruitment of Paul Pieroni as senior curator at the Gallery of Modern Art. I’m excited to see how that starts to impact in Glasgow, but of course I shall have to watch that from afar as in November I left Glasgow for Gateshead to take up my new role as director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

What has changed for the better and what, if anything, has changed for the worse?
For the past three years I’ve had a pretty complex job as both head of arts for Glasgow and director of the Tramway. It’s a role I loved, with an amazing team and we’ve achieved great things, but it’s often felt like planning in treacle – inevitable perhaps given the scale of the wider organisation (over 2000 staff). So the move to BALTIC makes me feel like… ”Well I’m free again, to do what I wanna do. Free again, to sing my song again. Free again, to air my longing, And to be out on my own again,’’ to quote Teenage Fan Club!

What do you wish hadn’t happened this year?
The Tories getting back in. I genuinely fear for the future of our public services and most vulnerable citizens, not to mention our environment. I was brought up to believe in the values of social and environmental justice and neither of those are areas I’m prepared to compromise.

What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?
So many things that time didn’t allow but now we have 2016 to, as Curtis Mayfield put it, keep on keeping on…

What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
Getting the BALTIC gig. It’s a role that makes the very core of my being tingle with excitement at the possibilities. Being given the leadership reins of such an iconic but still young contemporary arts venue comes with huge responsibility but it’s one I feel ready for. Five weeks in we have had some bold conversations, developing for both local and international projects. I’m interested in the concept of #OurBaltic – what does BALTIC mean for the artistic community; local people living in Gateshead Newcastle; the international art world? I’m leading the entire staff team in the writing of a manifesto for the organisation in our first week back in January. 2016? Can’t wait…

Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
Anything important not achieved can be taken forward; if it’s not important I can lose it.

What would make 2016 a better year than 2015?
Time. Time to deliver depth and impact. And time to take my family to Iceland.


Use the hwify2015 tag for more in the 2015 – How was it for you? series

More on a-n.co.uk:

Best exhibitions of 2015: a-n writers pick their top five shows

Turner Prize 2015: Small shock prompts big questions