CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

My Herts Life: Maria Iredale

PUBLISHED: 09:51 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:51 28 April 2015

Maria Iredale at Letchworth Arts Centre

Maria Iredale at Letchworth Arts Centre

© Christian Trampenau

The Letchworth Arts Centre manager talks about gaining inspiration in the US, meeting the Queen, and the power of the arts to improve communities ahead of June’s Letchworth Festival

Maria Iredale meeting the Queen at Buckingham PalaceMaria Iredale meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace

What brought you to Letchworth Arts Centre? I started off working in retail management for Gap and Nike, but I’d done an arts degree and always wanted to work in a creative business so I steadily moved in that direction. I was working for a children’s arts charity in the north-east when I saw an advert for an interim position, to write a business plan for the arts centre. We really missed the south so jumped at the chance to move back. That was in 2006 and a year later the trustees asked me to run the place. I’ve been here ever since.

What’s the best thing about your job? Being able to take an idea and make it happen and turn it into a big event. I speak to promoters, see what other people are putting on, watch arts programmes – ideas can come from all over. I also get to go to the Edinburgh Festival and this year Brighton too, and from there we pick what we think our audience would like.

You met the Queen this spring, how come? The Queen is patron of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust which gave me a fellowship to travel to the USA to explore art as a catalyst for community regeneration. I met her at a reception in Buckingham Palace this spring (right) to mark the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death and it was an incredible opportunity. I’ve always believed firmly in the capacity of the arts to boost communities so with my fellowship I went to places where they’d made that happen, from Detroit to Boston.

What are you working on now? In America I heard of this fantastic theatre group who we are bringing over in June for a residency, to perform and work with local students as part of the Letchworth Festival (June 13-28). TC Squared are performing a piece about World War One, Messengers of the Bitter Truth, and working with Da Vinci School pupils who will create their own response piece. They’re also doing four shows at the arts centre, bringing the words and artistry of people who survived the Great War to the stage.

What motivates you? The arts has a role to play in making things happen, to change people’s minds and as a force for good. Artists are active citizens who can make people rethink their lives and their potential. Entertainment is just the start.

What’s next? I’m now working with theatre companies to develop pieces which will start in Letchworth and then tour. That’s very exciting: starting from scratch to create something new.

I saw a documentary about Northern Soul music and found it amazing so I started looking around for people involved in that. I found a photographer called Dean Chalkley who has taken some wonderful pictures of Northern Soul clubs and is internationally recognised, and together we are creating a Northern Soul event in September with live music and an exhibition. It’s those collaborations which come out of a shared passion where you can create something magical.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

Devon Life received this heartfelt letter from Mr Michael Thompson, of Torbay, which is felt particularly poignant to share with our website audience at this time of year

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

The actor Anthony Head talks to Bernard Bale about his love of animals and wildlife, and the countryside around his Somerset home

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

Talented singer brings home prestigious title after top performance

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hanna Miraftab, newest star of hit TV series The Real Housewives of Cheshire, shares some insight into her life

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bursting with festive inspiration, KATE WILLIAMS seeks out the best presents for a perfect Devon Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ballroom star and world class judge Gary Edwards has enjoyed an incredible career in dance, claiming 30 dance titles across the globe, followed by a stint as advisor to the Royal family of Brunei. Now a presenter on hit American show Dancing with the Stars, Denise Marshall caught up with the Romford-born star for the inside word on Strictly 2018!

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

As we mark the centenary of the end of world War I, Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office reveals a unique insight into life at war during this bleak time | Words: Hannah Salisbury

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We asked our very own Snowman to reveal his top cultural picks

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We peek inside wildlife painter Catherine Ingleby’s Shurlock Row home, which she has transformed from a dated 70s relic into a colourful hive of creativity

Read more

Celebrating the centenary of women being allowed to vote in a UK General Election, we look at leading Kent ladies, then and now

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search