Thinking Practice is essentially a one-man band. You get personal service from Mark Robinson, not an associate or a junior – unless we need specific expertise from associates.
Mark Robinson founded Thinking Practice when he left Arts Council England in 2010. He is the author of the influential paper Making Adaptive Resilience Real, and of The Role of Diversity in Building Adaptive Resilience (with Tony Nwachukwu). Since 2010 he has worked with more than 40 organisations in the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Mark was Executive Director of Arts Council England, North East, from 2005-2010, having joined the management team of Northern Arts in 2000. He was thus deeply involved in the massive cultural developments in North East England over this period, as well as forming part of Arts Council England’s national Executive Board. Amongst his national roles for Arts Council England, he chaired Art Co Limited, the trading company which oversaw the phenomenal growth of Own Art and Take It Away, and led for Executive Board on the Turning Point strategy for visual arts and rural issues. He was previously Director of Arts & Humanities at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Durham (1999-2000) where he researched and published on poetry, literature and education, arts and health, and community development. As Director of Cleveland Arts (1993-99) he set up the Teesside Arts in Education agency, amongst a wide variety of initiatives. Prior to this he worked as a freelance writer, literature development worker, writer-in-residence in a prison, directed the Writearound Festival and was an award-winning Head Chef in vegetarian catering. (He learnt a lot about leadership in a hot kitchen. As he often says, no one ever said ‘if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the office.’)
Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is also a widely published poet and critic, and Smokestack Books published How I Learned to Sing: New & Selected Poems in 2013. His other most recent substantial publication is A Balkan Exchange: 8 British and Bulgarian Poets (Arc 2007), the result of a long collaboration between North East England and Bulgaria. For 10 years he edited Scratch poetry magazine and press. In 2000 a film featuring one of his poems won a Regional Royal Television Society award. Given half a chance he will talk to you about Preston North End.
This interview with the Journal’s NE Business is a bit old now, but probably gives as good a flavour of Mark as any of the others he’s done. (In that it answers questions such as ‘What would be the first thing you’d teach a talking parrot to say?’)