Quintain, the developer behind the transformation of Wembley Park, has appointed Josh McNorton in the new role of Cultural Director.
McNorton will lead the establishment of Wembley Park Arts, a new cultural programme for Wembley Park that ensures leadership across commissioning, co-production, cultural infrastructure support and developing local, national and international partnerships. McNorton’s appointment is timed to support the lead partner role of Wembley Park in Brent’s year as London Borough of Culture 2020.
Josh McNorton has a varied background in producing, curation and programming. Most recently, he was Head of Arts & Culture Programmes at multi-disciplinary East London arts centre Rich Mix. Prior to this, he worked on arts and cultural festivals. Between 2014 and 2016, he was the Producer at Nesta’s flagship festival for the future, FutureFest, and then in 2017 he was Co-founder of the world’s first sensory arts and research festival, Open Senses. McNorton moved to the UK from Canada in 2012 to produce a large-scale, outdoor entertainment programme for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Wembley Park Arts programme seeks to leverage the global reputation Wembley Park has for events, entertainment and performance to invite creative and cultural industries to the area. The role of Cultural Director will see McNorton working with leading contemporary artists, institutions and festivals in the world-famous locations on site, working with cutting-edge event infrastructure, and diverse communities to create memorable cultural experiences. The development of the role has been supported by Futurecity, the London based global placemaking and public art agency, who have expertise in creating public programmes for cultural districts such as New York City’s Times Square, London’s Exhibition Road, Sydney’s Cultural Network and Boston’s Avenues to the Arts.
The programme is core funded by Quintain, with additional funding raised through partnership, sponsorship and various other platforms. As well as its own curated programme, Wembley Park Arts will work with the area’s iconic venues and partners, including The SSE Arena, Wembley, as well as newer additions such as Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, to present a world-leading offer.
The ambitious cultural strategy for the area has already delivered affordable artist studios, run by Second Floor Studios & Arts, a public art programme and extensive cultural programming and events, most of which are available free of charge. Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, a new flexible 1,000-2,000 seat capacity theatre, opened this summer and will present the National Theatre’s production of War Horse in the autumn. Getty Images Gallery opened in Olympic Way in June, and it will feature a year-long programme of exhibitions presented by the curatorial team at Getty Images.
On his appointment, Josh McNorton says “It’s hugely exciting to be starting working in what now feels like the world’s most famous neighbourhood. There’s something special in the air at Wembley Park, from the buzz of big gigs and major sporting events to more intimate experiences in our new cultural venues and community spaces. I’m keen to build on Wembley Park’s existing cultural legacy, whilst bringing new and engaging ideas to the area”
James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer, Quintain, comments, “Wembley Park is unique – it has an amazing cultural heritage, we are creating the largest rental neighbourhood in the UK, and now we are creating a whole cultural ecosystem with the particular needs of that local community in mind. Whether a resident, a shopper or a day tripper, creating exceptional experiences every day is what Wembley Park is about. Wembley Park Arts is key to delivering that, from our brilliant free cultural programme to creating new partnership and opportunities.”
Sherry Dobbin, Partner, Futurecity adds, “Josh McNorton has the perfect combination of skills required for working alongside the Wembley Park team. His experience covers cultural producing at many scales, development of cultural partnership network, and an advanced understanding of the future digital arts sector to ensure Wembley Park Arts will thrive on the dynamic global cultural scene, as well as creating a vibrant place for residents, visitors and workers.”