Biog / About

KP (Karen Poley) is a Creative Producer and Artistic Director who has nearly 25 years experience of producing outdoor arts festivals, events, performances & community engagement projects of all scales.

Karen works with a range of partners & collaborators to create projects which cross a range of agendas, linking areas of interest & passion – outdoor arts, cycling, sustainability, healthy living, environmental issues – to provoke, challenge, inspire & reach the widest audience.

She is passionate about outdoor work – the infinite possibilities; the power & potential of reaching large numbers of people & engaging them in new ways, in ordinary everyday places; as well as their surreal, and the totally unexpected nature.  Outdoor arts are the most democratic of art forms, they change people’s perceptions of their local areas, and have a magical, appeal to the widest range of people.

Her latest project, The Living Coast Undersea Experience, is a bit of a departure, with a virtual reality, graphic work created with digital artist Simon Wilkinson of Circa 69, in partnership with The Living Coast, Sussex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority & Sussex Wildlife Trust.  The piece offers the opportunity to explore the Marine Conservation Zone off the Sussex coast without getting wet, & will tour to community venues over the next five years.  Read a blog here shortly.

Other recent work has focused on the bicycle in two main projects, The Bicycle Ballet Company, www.bicycleballet.co.uk, & reCyculture, www.recyculture.co.uk.

The Bicycle Ballet Company creates contemporary performances fusing a range of performance disciplines with striking soundtracks & bicycles, to change the way people think about cycle.  The company has created six productions, & is currently touring two:

  • Blazing Saddles – a visual narrative evolving from a contemporary choreography celebrating women, cycling & fashion, which aims to be part of the drive to encourage more women to ride bicycles
  • Strictly Cycling – a roving, visual performance, inspired by flash mobs & dadaism, everyday cycling & the great British weather

reCyculture was an installation project repurposing old & disused bikes to create high impact installations on walls & rooftops.  The installations reference the large number of bicycles thrown away or lying disused in bike racks or gardens.  Installations are accompanied by digital content – spoken word, stop animation film, interviews etc.

Prior to this, Karen worked at the cutting edge of street arts during its early development for Zap Art.  Here she programmed, managed and produced over 100 street arts festivals and events, including small to enormous – community, education and professional development projects, and commissions with UK and international companies.  Amongst many highlights, the most challenging spring to mind – productions with complex local engagements, inspiring artists and companies – WILDWORKS’ first production, Souterrain in the tiny hamlet of Stanmer Village; Transe Express’ ‘The Lazy Kings‘; and the premiere of Groupe F‘s ‘Light Players.’  For more info click this link, from Chapter Five of Zap Art 25 Years of Cultural Innovation © Zap Art 2007, a scan because sadly the book is no longer available online.

During this period, Karen also managed the UK side of the PECA partnership and two, simultaneous EU Interreg grants, particularly in relation to the Virtual Creation Centre.  She also produced the National Street Arts Meeting 2007, the sector’s 10th annual conference.

As a freelancer and independent producer, she has also worked with a range of artists and companies including Strangelings, Periplum, Red Earth, Rachel Henson, Charlie Morrissey, Magnetic Events, Up Stream, Icon Productions and nutkhut in roles ranging from Site and Event Manager, to Volunteer Co-ordinator, General Manager and Producer.

If you’re interested in new ideas, take a peak at the Ideas Block.

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