Battersea Arts Centre, the vibrant London venue that recently fully reopened after a devastating 2015 fire, is searching for a new artistic director and CEO. After 15 years in the joint role, David Jubb has announced that he is to step down in April or, in his words, “bugger off and let someone else have a go”.
Jubb, who is “heading off to grow children and vegetables”, arrived at BAC as a development producer in 1999. He has been the artistic director and CEO since 2004. His collaborative “scratch” method of working – where everyone has a say in developing new ideas – was used not just on BAC’s productions but also on the renovation of the Grade II*-listed building after the fire.
Artists championed and nurtured during Jubb’s time at the venue have included 1927, Kate Tempest, Little Bulb, Inua Ellams, Jess Thom aka Touretteshero and Bryony Kimmings, whose show I’m a Phoenix, Bitch opened this week to rave reviews as part of BAC’s Phoenix season. One of the theatre’s greatest hits was 2007’s The Masque of the Red Death, an immersive experience inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and created by the Punchdrunk company. The gothic adventure invited audiences to roam the building in cloaks and masks, and featured a walk-on part for the theatre’s cat, Pluto. It had a seven-month sellout run and was seen by more than 40,000 people.
BAC’s productions have reached wider audiences in recent years thanks to their strand of BBC programming, Performance Live, which has included television broadcasts of theatre shows by Thom and Tempest and companies including Common Wealth and Gecko. During Jubb’s time at BAC the centre has also merged with Wandsworth Museum to create the new BAC Moving Museum.
Jubb described BAC as “one of those places where people’s lives often begin again. They have an experience; they meet someone or a community of people; they discover a new passion. I think it’s why the organisation and the building are held with such affection. All great cultural centres are places of transformation – it is why they are such important institutions in our communities because they enable us to imagine a different future. I think BAC has always been one of the very best. It has been a massive privilege.”
Michael Day, chair of the BAC board, said Jubb had “moved minds and hearts, always collaboratively and with humility and grace. In the aftermath of the fire, he showed us a future to believe in and worked tirelessly to bring everyone’s efforts together.”
Jubb announced that in the months leading up to his departure he would write about about his experiences to “pass stuff forward to a younger generation of better artistic directors in Battersea and beyond”. In his first blog, he wrote that “an artistic director’s job is to help other people make things happen” and made a point of name-checking those colleagues who had delivered landmark projects during his 15 years.
Artistic associate Shelley Hastings, who has worked at BAC since 2004, and associate artistic director Sarah Golding, who has been there since 1999, will also leave in 2019.
The deadline for applications for the new artistic director and CEO is 26 November.