Any season needs to believe it can change the world.
With Battersea Arts Centre’s spring 2020 season we really enjoyed just going for it. While developing and curating this work, we had a simple idea that we kept coming back to: Connections Matter. Divisions in the UK are becoming so entrenched, it feels like the ideal time to reach out… across boundaries, across borders, across opinions and across ideologies. Of course, the name is also meant to be playful and tongue-in-cheek. But there is unashamed ambition there too. Given where the world is right now, it’s not the time to be coy.
Going Global is full of remarkable international talent making their London debuts, complemented by brilliant UK artists grappling with global themes. I am delighted at the dazzling roll-call that will be in our building this spring: Javaad Alipoor; Kirsty Housley; Access All Areas; dreamthinkspeak; Samira Elagoz; coletivA ocupação; Sleepwalk Collective; Omar Elerian; Florencia Cordeu; Impact Dance; Thibault Delferiere; Jo Fong; Sonia Hughes; Adam Lazarus; Ann-Marie Kerr; Lucy McCormick… and many, many others.
It wouldn’t be a Battersea Arts Centre season without being a bit mischievous, a bit uncompromising, a bit radical. unReal City and Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran use digital technologies to excavate new truths about our world. Contrasting takes on challenging modern topics are brilliantly encountered in Daughter and Cock Cock.. Who’s There? There are pieces that are just achingly beautiful in their own ways and sit with you long after they’ve gone: Autoreverse; The Spirit; Neither Here Nor There; Swimming Pools. Lucy McCormick’s anarchic, pop concert Life: Live! and the improvised face-offs of Outrageous Behaviour simply can’t be topped for exuberant fun. And the real new power in the world, Youth Activism, is embodied by the 16 young Brazilians of coletivA ocupação and their unforgettable When it Breaks it Burns, coupled with the exceptional local talent on show in our Homegrown Festival.
Every season is a massive group effort. Battersea Arts Centre is blessed with a dedicated team of producers and programmers who have been busy scouting the country and the world for exciting new work, as well as developing new pieces within our walls. So this really isn’t ‘my’ season any more than it’s anyone else’s at BAC.
But Going Global does touch something very personal for me. When I came back to the UK at the age of 17, I found it very hard to fit in. Everything and everyone seemed so different to me – so alien, so threatening, so incomprehensible. But over the years all the linguistic and societal differences melted away. Once I scratched the surface, what struck me most was not the differences between people across cultures – but how identical they are. Beyond the superficial sheen were much more significant equivalences – the same hopes, the same fears, the same dreams. That realisation allowed me to start again and begin a new life. The UK now feels like my home – and it always will be.
For me, that is what Going Global is about. It’s a chance to bring brilliant people from all over the world to explore with us what is most urgent today. All of the amazing work in this season find points of human contact, even though their own starting points are so distinctive. That is why Connections Matter. Because they allow us to get beyond the irrelevant noise around us and find the things that universally unite, excite and motivate us. That, surely, is one of the best ways we have to change the world.
Artistic Director & CEO