Mark Robinson is a writer, researcher, facilitator, strategist, coach, editor, and never bored.
Mark founded Thinking Practice when he left Arts Council England in 2010. Since 2010 he has worked with more than 160 organisations in the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and Australia. He was born and brought up in Preston, Lancashire and has lived for more than 28 years in the parish of Preston-on-Tees in Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees.
The vision Mark brings to every room is of working with others to make culture that opens up rather than closes down possibilities.
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 being 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, the cliche is not ‘if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the office.’)
He is also a widely published poet and critic, and Smokestack Books published How I Learned to Sing: New & Selected Poems in 2013. It was a New Writing North ‘Read Regional’ selection in 2014. In 2016 he was commissioned to write ‘the Infinite Town’ a poem now carved into a large plinth on Stockton-on-Tees High Street. In 2017 a selection of poems was published in Bulgaria, in the anthology ‘Four Times North’, returning the favour of ‘A Balkan Exchange’ in 2008, which translated four leading Bulgarian poets into English. For 10 years he edited Scratch poetry magazine and press. Highlights included having a pamphlet he’d collated, folded and stapled by hand due to lack of money be shortlisted for Best First Collection by the Forward Prize for Poetry. (Seeing’s Believing, by Helen Kitson.)