Catherine Waddington – Board Member

I am an independent cultural strategist, with extensive experience of delivering cross-disciplinary  programmes pushing the boundaries of arts production and audience experience. 

For the last ten years I have been a key strategic member of Abandon Normal Devices, producing challenging, provocative, and inspiring cultural experiences which enabled artists and audiences to take risks. I now support arts leaders by working hands-on across operations, leadership, strategy, planning and execution in a way that’s tailored to their needs.

Prior to Abandon Normal Devices, I worked within strategic communications and programme delivery for Arts Council England, Future Everything, Imperial War Museum North, Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and on national programmes We Play, the Cultural Olympiad Programme in the North West Region of UK, Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008 and Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games.

What expertise do you bring to the board?

I have worked as a strategic leader in a creative organisation and so bring with me on-the-ground experience
of operating within the cultural sector along with experience of developing innovative cross sector
partnerships. This experience comes in parallel with a passion for understanding audiences and how artists
can open conversations and unlock new thinking through unconventional arts experiences.

What excites you about IOU – why are you a board member?

I am delighted to be able to support IOU at a time of transition, building on the solid foundation and
reputation IOU has established over the past 47 years with David Wheeler, and supporting the team to
nurture and cultivate a space where artists and participants can push their practice, develop new skills, take
risks, and invent new creative experiences for audiences.

Tell us about a cultural experience, past or present that has inspired you the most.

In the summer of 2023, I visited the Tobacco Warehouse in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool Biennial. Sited on
the ground floor, an installation by Sengalese-Italian artist Binta Diaw ‘Chorus of Soil’ – described as a soil and
seed map of the 18th-century Brooks slave ship.

The soil outlined almost to-scale the hull of the ship and the bodies that would have been laid inside the depths of
the slave ship. The seeds, newly sprouted, turned to the light of the sun coming in through distant windows. An
incredibly powerful, thought-provoking work inviting us to consider our colonial past.