Hello! My name is Mary Muir, arts development manager at Norfolk County Council (NCC) and, sadly for me, it’s my last week here! After 22 years working for NCC and living in Norfolk.
I’ve relocated to Buxton in Derbyshire for family reasons and am about to begin studying part-time for a degree in Creative Arts Practice at Derby University and to work in a freelance capacity. 22 years is a long time and the invitation to write this blog has given me a lovely opportunity to reflect and to think about what it is about my role that has made it so uniquely rewarding and creative, both personally and professionally.
I grew up in Orkney, a place which is culturally rich, fiercely independent and where creativity in all its forms is very much valued and supported. I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in the arts and while studying for my degree in Art History and English at the University of East Anglia, I volunteered everywhere I could to build up my experience. This helped me to understand how I could shape a creative career which would enable me to further my passionate interest in the many ways in which arts, culture and heritage give voice and expression to individual and collective experience and the shaping of place. Prior to my current role, I worked for museums, arts, heritage and environmental organisations and for the voluntary and statutory health sector and always with my interest in arts and culture at the centre.
It was the perfect grounding to equip me to manage the diverse and multi-faceted work of Norfolk Arts Service, supporting the development of arts and culture across Norfolk, and our wider region; and to advocate for the enormous impact and value of arts and culture in multiple arenas including health and wellbeing, environment, community development, learning and skills, social justice, regeneration and sustainable tourism. One of the defining characteristics of Norfolk and Suffolk is our wonderfully vibrant, diverse and inclusive arts and cultural community from award-winning and internationally regarded cultural organisations, museums and festivals to grass-roots community arts groups, and the many artists and practitioners for whom our beautiful region is home. Another is the way that we work together as sectors, stakeholders, partners, colleagues and as passionate individuals to champion and celebrate this collective cultural strength.
Developed by the Norfolk and Suffolk Culture Board, Head East is a perfect manifestation of this collaborative strategic approach. We want people to know about our region and what makes it so vibrant and special, we want them to visit and to come back and it’s great to see more and more organisations getting on board and interested people signing up to receive our fabulous monthly e-culture newsletter.
It has been so exciting and rewarding to see the Head East campaign grow and develop from a small seed of an idea into a stand-out cultural tourism campaign and inclusive regional brand and a great privilege to be part of its development. I feel very proud of what we’ve collectively achieved!
It has also been an enormous privilege to work in this role over the last two decades. I will miss my many wonderful colleagues, my job and Norfolk and Suffolk enormously and I’m glad I will continue to receive the Head East e-culture newsletter to whet my appetite for return visits of which there will undoubtedly be many!
This is a Behind the Scenes profile for HEAD EAST
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