Paddy Masefield: still sending out shock waves and unsettling foundations

It’s been a hectic few months what with Treasured at the Cathedral, the Serbian and Macedonian visit, the business start up work at Liverpool Vision and the myriad of other activities we are musing about, thinking of and trying to lay the foundations for. Paddy’s commemoration means that I can get away for a few days and think about all that fragmentation and stresses and strains in an environment which is a little quieter and offers the opportunity to reassess exactly what it is we want from the world ahead.

This was Paddy’s legacy for me. Working with him both at LIPA and within Aspire during times of organisational growth and stress and challenge meant that you had to step back from the common place, the usual, the humdrum, and completely reassess what we were doing, how we were doing it, and why we doing it at all.

His work with us at LIPA on establishing Solid Foundations sent powerful shock waves through the organisation, challenging established ways of thinking about disability, ability, arts training, arts development and who had a right in the first place to stand on stage and command attention.

His work meant we had to rethink everything about the student experience; how they got into HE, what he meant by accredited prior learning, the integrated curriculum and student progression. This of course had a direct impact on the students who joined solid foundations – but it’s impact and his influence were more wide ranging.

It meant that students on the so called mainstream programmes had to address their own concepts of identity, of ability and what was being asked of them when it came to not only developing and devising new work, but what it meant to rethink traditional ways of acting, of music making, and of dance for example. It meant that staff had to rethink how impairment might inform the student assessment process for example and whether there were other insights that disabled staff could bring to the process that couldn’t be accessed by their nondisabled counterparts. Far from providing solid foundations, Paddy was instrumental in rocking the very foundations which we thought held up conservatoire arts training in the UK.

Paddy’s influence was felt by many students and staff, although many may not have met him in their times at LIPA. Many of them are still working and have gone onto great things, Mark Rowlands, Mandy Redvers Rowe and Jaye Wilson Bowe to name just a few. I’d like to thank you Paddy for giving me that space to rethink, to replay and regalvanise. Your shock waves are still rocking our foundations to this day.

Testimonial for Paddy Masefield, 20 October 2012
Battersea Arts Centre, London

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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