Creative Estuary brand architectural pattern 7

New Director at Metal, Southend

Andrea Cunningham steps up as the new Director of Metal in Southend – the arts organisation based at Chalkwell Hall in Chalkwell Park. Metal supports artists of all artforms across the region to develop their creative practice. Metal develops ideas for new cultural experiences to expand pride of place and unlock creative potential within our communities. This can include large-scale festivals, creative activities for young people and a whole range of cultural experiences for local, regional and national audiences – most recently Metal led the Estuary 2021 multi-arts festival attracting over 208k people to the region to explore 94 artworks in the landscape.

Cunningham brings a range of creative skills and expertise to the post from many years of working in museums, galleries and the cultural sector, particularly around working with children and young people. Formally Head of Learning & Skills at the V&A Museum of Childhood, she has a passion for inspiring young people around the potential of creativity:

“I am delighted to be taking on this role at Metal. Since I moved to the area in 2006, I have been bowled over by the range and richness of the cultural landscape in South Essex and I am hugely excited to build on the brilliant work of the Southend Metal team to strengthen partnerships and community connections through creativity.”

Core to Metal’s work is the support they give to local artists through residency programmes, encouraging them to explore new ideas and directions. Recent resident and street artist Scotty Brave said:

“I felt encouraged and validated by the residency at Metal….it really helped me open my eyes to where I have been and where I am going as an artist”

The changes come following the departure of the long-standing CEO & Artistic Director Colette Bailey, who is moving on after 20 years at Metal to a new role at the Women of the World Foundation. A new CEO & Artistic Director for Metal is currently being recruited and will support the whole organisation across the Southend, Peterborough and Liverpool sites.

This is an exciting time of change for Metal and a boost to their ongoing commitment to creativity in this community.


For further press queries contact Simone Kelly Marketing & Communications Manager

About Metal

Metal was founded by Jude Kelly OBE in 2002, working with former Artistic Director and CEO, Colette Bailey since its inception. Metal has been active in Liverpool since 2004, in Southend-on-Sea since 2007 and in Peterborough since 2012. In each place, Metal works from buildings of historic significance that have been transformed from empty or derelict spaces into vibrant cultural community hubs. Metal support artists, locally, from across the UK and overseas, working in all disciplines, at all career levels, providing opportunities for emerging artists, alongside hosting artists-in-residence and running intensive, week-long Culture LAB’s for peer-to-peer learning and exchange. They create large-scale, participatory projects that respond to our immediate environment and involve people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Metal operates through a wide range of partnerships, ranging from Arts Council England, local authorities, regional agencies, Music Hubs, Bridge organisations and many more. They also have strong working relationships with a wide range of other arts organizations, community groups, schools and HE and FE institutions.

Andrea Cunningham