The achievements of the Director of Nottingham Lakeside Arts have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.
Shona Powell has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her work in the arts – most notably transforming the University of Nottingham’s arts centre and museum into a major national asset.
As a passionate advocate for the arts Shona has engaged with children and families, as well as hard to reach communities, and ensured the programme of activities around productions and exhibitions at Nottingham Lakeside Arts is underpinned by learning.
Her belief in the importance of the youth audience has led her to campaign artists to recognize that any work made for children should be made with the same rigour, commitment and passion shown when creating for an adult audience.
Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice Chancellor of The University of Nottingham said: “Shona believes that a child’s first experience of theatre or dance must be magical and memorable.
“This belief, and her commitment to learning, underpins everything she does, whether this be developing international festivals of theatre and dance for children, such as Wheee!, helping to create new works, mentoring new directors or curating major exhibitions.
“From commissioning to script development and casting, her extensive experience and knowledge of the family is the difference between a show and an experience that many remember for a long time.
“I truly believe that Nottingham Lakeside Arts would not be the highly-regarded facility it is without her dedication and ingenuity. This recognition is richly deserved.”
Shona was appointed the first Director of Nottingham Lakeside Arts in 2002 following a decade-long stint as founding Director of The Lemon Tree, a multi-arts venue in Aberdeen.
Over the next 14 years she grew audiences from 77,000 to almost a quarter of a million, overseeing the curation of major exhibitions like LOWRY and Elizabeth Frink: The Presence of Sculpture. Both drew record audiences and received wide spread national acclaim.
In 2013 Nottingham Lakeside Arts premiered Inside Out of Mind – the result of a collaboration between Professor Justine Schneider in the Institute of Mental Health, Meeting Ground Theatre Company, and Lakeside before a national tour. The project was a finalist in the National Lottery Awards.
This year Shona, who is Chair of MOKO Dance (national consortium of partners concerned to promote high quality dance to young audiences); a founding partner and lead organisation of East Midlands Children’s Theatre Consortium; a Board Member of Cultivate; a member of the Cultural Partnership Executive, Spirit Nottingham; previously Chair of Déda; and a Board Member of The Egalitarian Trust, was named as one of the 100 most influential people in Nottinghamshire in a list compiled by the Nottingham Post.
Shona said: “I am thrilled to receive this honour. However, no individual is solely responsible for the success of any arts initiative, and this also recognises the incredibly talented team – past and present – that I have been lucky to work with at Lakeside, my previous colleagues at The Lemon Tree, and all my colleagues and terrific artists across the regional and national initiatives of which we are part.”
Lakeside comprises the Djanogly theatre, Djanogly Art Gallery & Angear Visitor Centre, Museum of Archaeology and Djanogly Recital Hall, The Wallner and The Weston Galleries.There is also a Visual Artist in Residence Studio and both a Visual Arts and Performing Arts Studio space used by community and youth groups.