A former theatre producer, David Jubb was named Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in 2004. He trained at Bretton Hall, Bristol University and Central School of Speech and Drama, where he is a honourary fellow and he has been awarded an honourary doctorate from University of Roehampton. Here, he talks about everyday creativity, the power of direct performance and hiding out in the loo.
How are you preparing for your TEDxWandsworth talk?
I am using ‘Scratch’ (a development process for ideas which we use at Battersea Arts Centre). In the summer, I did an outline plan and sought out feedback on the initial idea from various people, including the TEDxWandsworth team.
This autumn, I did a first full draft, again asking more people more questions and receiving more feedback. Now I am having some time away from the idea before going back to it later this month, hopefully with fresh perspective, to create a final draft.
Then comes the bit I am least looking forward to – trying to learn it. I’ve never known how people are so fluent when they deliver their 15-minute TED talks – I am guessing most people just learn the text they have put together, so I am going to have a go at that!
How did you come up with the idea for your talk?
By being given a deadline… then it was partly fear and partly excitement. I also have doubts about the whole ‘TED thing’ – this connects with the theme of what I want to explore, which is about our creativity and about taking action. I often find that a tension, difficulty or challenge is another good driver for coming up with an idea.
Why is art such a vital aspect of society?
We are all creative. We use our creativity every day to think stuff through, to look at something differently, to get stuff done. As a result, our world is full of billions of miniature works of art, created every day, by all of us. So art is an everyday component of our lives, it’s just about whether we choose to see it, and proactively tap into our own creativity to do stuff.
Your role at Battersea Arts Centre exposes you to a huge variety of art in different formats – do you have a favourite?
I am a big fan of live performance where the person performing has a live and direct relationship with the audience – whether that is playing an instrument, telling a story or dancing.
If that relationship is not direct, if there’s a pretense that the audience is invisible (as happens in a lot of live performance) then I don’t enjoy it as much and I’d rather watch TV or a film. But when everyone is in a room together, it’s an exciting energy with the possibility that anything might happen. I think this is why people often enjoy it when something goes wrong in live shows – because everyone knows it is a truly live moment in which something changes.
Who or what inspires you?
Change. Kate Tempest’s work. Ken Robinson’s ideas on creativity. Deli Ali’s creativity. My wife and my daughters. Small acts of kindness.
Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, or an introvert?
I’m an introverted extrovert. I enjoy the energy and potential of people being together. I am inspired by people all the time. But I have always been desperately shy and spend more time than I need to in the toilet.
How do you spend your down time?
With my family. Cuddling the dog. Re-organising things. Learning to grow things. Watching a box set.
What one thing would you like to know before you die?
Exactly when I started dying and what caused it – just for completeness. I am a hypochondriac.
What is your favourite TED or TEDx talk?
‘Do Schools Kill Creativity’ by Ken Robinson.
The feeling that things are getting better not worse. Failing that, eating a chocolate raisin.
Interview by Rosy Edwards