Hearts for the Arts Shortlist: Mischa Eligoloff, Torbay Council

Shortlisted in the inaugural National Campaign for the Arts/What Next? Hearts for the Arts Awards 2017 for Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer.

Mischa Eligoloff has worked for over ten years at Torbay Council developing arts provision to bring change to communities through engagement in high-quality arts. A signature of his work is to combine regional and national partners with grass-roots activity to build Torbay’s arts infrastructure and ensure that work is embedded. He is passionate that this needs to develop the skills and priorities of people ‘on our doorstep’ if it is to bring lasting change.

Despite significant budgetary challenges, Mischa has continued to advocate for the arts, aligning with Health & Wellbeing, Tourism and Education services. In 2015-16, Mischa led development and delivery of Earth Echoes – the Opening Ceremony to the International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks. Participants aged 8-80 devised, composed and performed new work, collaborating with artists from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Doorstep Arts, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, scientists, schools and higher education. The performance was live streamed to audiences worldwide with learning resources translated for schools internationally.

In 2008, Mischa developed Creative Torbay as an online information network for Torbay’s cultural and creative sector. Collaborating with other local authorities across the UK, this has grown to become ‘Creative Assembly’, a connected network of online creative hubs, now including: Kirklees, Somerset, Swindon, Hertfordshire and Sussex.

In 2009, Gormley’s ‘Field for the British Isles’ came to Torbay. This marked the beginning of Art on the English Riviera, an initiative by Mischa Eligoloff and Anna Gilroy to bring world-class art to Torbay. Since 2009, this has included work by Damien Hurst, Lone Twin Collective Spirit (Cultural Olympiad) among others. In 2010, Mischa led on Extended Cloister, a 48-hour arts event to improve public navigation to cultural assets across Torbay. Working with the Office for Subversive Architecture (OSR), this intervention acted as a significant talking-point, drawing out community opinion and raising the profile of Torbay’s heritage.

In 2012/13, Battersea Arts Centre’s Collaborative Touring Network (CTN) was established to support the development of high quality touring work and homegrown talent in areas with low levels of cultural engagement. From its inception, Mischa’s work with this partnership, developing links with local provision and emerging artists, has grown a new level of sustainable arts provision in Torbay. From this, Doorstep Arts CIC emerged, supporting numerous creative initiatives each year, with weekly sessions for children and young people in hard to reach areas.

Mischa Eligoloff’s ongoing commitment to the arts, his vision and advocacy has made a significant impact to meeting the needs of Torbay’s community. His ongoing work on audience development, arts evaluation and social impact continues to provide real evidence of the impact of this work locally and further afield.

What the judges had to say:

Samuel West, actor and director: “An energetic exemplar of local arts vision and advocacy.”