Here’s Mary and I with Sir Ken Robinson after his talk at the Unlocking Creativity event for the City of Culture 2013 in Derry this week.
It was lovely to meet Sir Ken Robinson at breakfast time on Monday – it turned out to be the best start to the working week that I’ve had for a while.
Judging by the laughs from the lady in the row behind me, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed his witty, North of England humour (the best kind – I was born in Warrington).
Sir Ken, best selling author of Out of Your Mind and The Element, was born in Liverpool and now lives in LA with his wife, Terry, and their two children. He was joined at the session by his brother, John, one of his six siblings, who was as gallant and charming as Ken himself (and a big Led Zeppelin fan).
Introduced by Phil Redmond, Chair of the UK City of Culture 2013 judging panel and leading light from Liverpool’s successful City of Culture in 2008, Sir Ken talked about how he thinks Derry can unlock its creative potential.
The audience was made of over 200 people from Northern Ireland from the education, commerce and cultural sectors.
Whilst thoroughly entertaining and full of anecdotes about famous people he had met (Sir Paul McCartney, US gymnast Bart Connor, international pool player Ewa Laurance) Sir Ken was also pragmatic about the challenges faced by the city given to it by the City of Culture opportunity.
Getting people to believe in the vision and themselves, securing funding, getting organisations to work collaboratively when they never have before – all are issues to be tackled.
However, Sir Ken was keen to stress that everyone in the city has a contribution to make.
And while the title of City of Culture is only afforded to Derry for one year, 2013, Sir Ken is looking further ahead. Creating a lasting impact from the activities and not just having a year of festivals and parties is what the audience was encouraged to focus on.
It’s going to be an exciting couple of years.