The Annual Michael Cross Lecture this year will be delivered by co-founder of the Bath Arts Workshop Mr Phil Shepherd. The Bath Arts Workshop – a pioneer community arts organisation founded in 1969- spawned the Natural Theatre Company, Walcot Reclamation, John’s Bikes and led to what is now the Bath Fringe Festival. An exhibition on the Bath Arts Workshop and it’s work, has been held at the Museum of Bath at Work since May this year.
In the summer of 1969, inspired by my experience from working at the London Arts Lab in Drury Lane, I wrote letter to Bath Council proposing a centre ”in which the barriers between arts and media are indistinct … in which the interaction between these forms will be given full play“. A centre in which the opportunity to participate would be given “to as many people as possible … priority being given to setting up a theatre company… to provide a valuable contribution to the life of the community and an ideal outlet for local talent“. To my enduring surprise the City Council responded to my letter suggesting a meeting. With just £40 between us, my friend Ross Mellor and I needed no further encouragement. We hitch hiked to Bath three days later to begin the adventure. We wanted nothing less than to change the world!”