With a background in performance, tour management and third sector business development, Kate Wood, Executive Director for Activate Performing Arts (Activate), based in Dorchester, has established her place as a successful social entrepreneur.
Having previously studied theatre and english at Leeds University, Kate’s career took her from performer to European tour manager, followed by a period in social enterprise development.
Kate 41, from Beaminster, joined Activate in 2005, assisting its transition from Dorset Dance, which started in 1991. Activate combines dance and theatre with the mission to create positive changes to local communities across Dorset. Activate works closely with artists, venues, schools, social services and community groups supporting people of all ages and backgrounds to connect through performance.
Kate’s entrepreneurial nature and passion for the arts enabled her and the team to double Activate’s audience reach and its turnover in the last two years, all while juggling family life. She said: ‘It takes a lot of energy to make sure you are there for your family while running an organisation, but I find that if you believe in what you are doing, it’s worth putting in the extra time and effort. It is a real privilege to have the opportunity to work with exceptionally talented artists to make work that changes people’s lives.”
Kate’s most significant achievement to date is the success of Inside Out Dorset. The biennial festival which takes place in September 2014, showcases some of the world’s best outdoor artists in large scale performances at different outdoor sites across Dorset. In 2007, it was named the largest free festival of outdoor performance across South West England, and since then, it has reached over 85,000 visitors and won two Poole Tourism Awards.
The array of high-quality artists involved with Activate’s many projects including Inside Out Dorset, helped to place Dorset firmly on the map during the Cultural Olympiad, a series of cultural events which ran alongside the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Reflecting on the success of Activate, Kate said: “The cultural legacy following the Olympics is exciting and it is a privilege to bring performing arts to thousands of people across Dorset. There has been an emergence of new theatre companies based locally and an enormous growth in youth dance and dance for health which is inspiring.”
Activate is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation that receives regular funding and support. The organisation is also core funded by Dorset County Council, Borough of Poole and Bournemouth Borough Council.
The next Inside Out Dorset festival takes place from 11 to 21 September 2014. For further information please visit www.activateperformingarts.org.uk or call 01305 260954.