Biog / About

KP (Karen Poley) is a Creative Producer and Artistic Director who has 21 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 power, potential and infinite possibilities, as well as the surreal, and the totally unexpected.  Outdoor arts are the most democratic of art forms, they change people’s perceptions of their ordinary, everyday places, and have a magical, and free, appeal to the widest range of people.

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 dance performances on, over & around bicycles, exploring people’s relationships to their bikes & issues around cycling.  The company has developed five touring productions, including:

  • The Mass Show, a mass participatory performance
  • Everyday Hero, a narrative dance performed by an integrated company of visually impaired & sighted performers; &
  • Strictly Cycling, an improvisational & roving, visual performance, commissioned six times, most recently to create a night-time version of The Birmingham Weekender.

reCyculture is an installation project which repurposes 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.

The project’s latest incarnation is WindWheels.  A unique educational & arts project teaching people to generate wind power using old bike wheels & reCycled materials to create light installations to be exhibited around a town or city.  The work is created in collaboration with the University of Brighton’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Dept to be taught in schools & community groups.

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, this chapter of Zap Art 25 Years of Cultural Innovation, especially page 12: here

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, the sector’s annual conference, in 2007.

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.

 

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