Andrea Cunningham steps up as the new Director of Metal in Southend – the arts
organisation based at Chalkwell Hall in Chalkwell Park. Metal supports artists of all artforms
across the region to develop their creative practice. Metal develops ideas for new cultural
experiences to expand pride of place and unlock creative potential within our communities.
This can include large-scale festivals, creative activities for young people and a whole range
of cultural experiences for local, regional and national audiences – most recently Metal led
the Estuary 2021 multi-arts festival attracting over 208k people to the region to explore 94
artworks in the landscape.
Cunningham brings a range of creative skills and expertise to the post from many years of
working in museums, galleries and the cultural sector, particularly around working with
children and young people. Formally Head of Learning & Skills at the V&A Museum of
Childhood, she has a passion for inspiring young people around the potential of creativity:
“I am delighted to be taking on this role at Metal. Since I moved to the area in 2006, I have
been bowled over by the range and richness of the cultural landscape in South Essex and I
am hugely excited to build on the brilliant work of the Southend Metal team to strengthen
partnerships and community connections through creativity. “
Core to Metal’s work is the support they give to local artists through residency programmes,
encouraging them to explore new ideas and directions. Recent resident and street artist
Scotty Brave said:
“I felt encouraged and validated by the residency at Metal….it really helped me open my
eyes to where I have been and where I am going as an artist”
The changes come following the departure of the long-standing CEO & Artistic Director
Colette Bailey, who is moving on after 20 years at Metal to a new role at the Women of the
World Foundation. A new CEO & Artistic Director for Metal is currently being recruited and
will support the whole organisation across the Southend, Peterborough and Liverpool sites.
This is an exciting time of change for Metal and a boost to their ongoing commitment to
creativity in this community.