Watershed enters new era with change at the top and launch of ventures arm

Bristol’s pioneering arts and creative tech centre Watershed has appointed a new CEO and launched a new business aimed at boosting the city’s creative growth.

The changes, which took place this week, see current managing director Dick Penny – who has led the award-winning venue for around two decades – taking on the leadership of its new Watershed Ventures arm. 

Pictured: Watershed executive director Miriam Randall, left, with new CEO Clare Reddington

He is replaced by Clare Reddington who, since joining in 2004, has built a world-leading reputation for Watershed’s creative technology, including its Pervasive Media Studio and Playable City initiatives, which combine innovation in art and technology.

Clare will lead Watershed alongside executive director Miriam Randall, who joined a year ago to focus on resource development, ensuring the centre continues to strike the appropriate balance between cultural and financial resilience

Over the past 10 years, Watershed has achieved substantial and sustained growth, including growing cinema audiences, creating the Pervasive Media Studio – which now has 153 resident artists and creatives – and youth-focused Rife magazine, and an increasing international profile.

Watershed Ventures will focus on managing the centre’s plans to increase capacity and developing new ways of contributing to creative growth in the Bristol city-region. Bristol’s high-growth creative cluster was highlighted in the government’s recent Creative Sector Deal and the city is also on the three-strong shortlist to become a creative hub for Channel 4.

Dick Penny, pictured, said: “This is a great moment to refresh our leadership team and to create focus on the future.

“It’s a personal joy to see colleagues emerge as respected cultural leaders and it gives me the opportunity to indulge my passion for our city by putting more time into extending Watershed’s role in the city-region.”

Clare Reddington added: “It has been a great joy to work alongside Dick Penny in this uniquely collaborative organisation for the last 10 years.  

“I am equally excited and humbled to be taking on a new challenge within an organisation I love but have every confidence that Miriam and I are more than ready to work with our excellent team on the next stage of Watershed’s journey.” 

Miriam Randall has a background in business leadership in contemporary art, film and digital culture organisations. As executive director of Brighton-based international arts and digital culture agency Lighthouse she played a key role in driving the organisation forward during a transitional period of growth, developing the business and team to support increasingly ambitious projects, locally, nationally and internationally.

She said: “Watershed is open, fearless and inclusive; a world leader and a local icon. This is thanks to the exceptional vision and passion of Dick, Clare and the team and the rich partnerships they have forged in Bristol and beyond. I’m thrilled to be working with them to take this special organisation into the future.” 

Watershed board chair James Touzel added: “In the 15 years I have been associated with Watershed, I have seen the organisation grow significantly in its confidence, stability and reach. 

“This growth creates many opportunities for the future, to continue Watershed’s role in developing talent and audiences across the arts and technology, locally, nationally and internationally. 

“The Watershed board is delighted that Clare and Miriam will be leading the shaping of Watershed’s future and that Dick, who has given so much to the organisation and the sector, will stay within the Watershed family to build new partnerships.”



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