Arts Centre —
Great arts centres are more than just a theatre, gallery, concert hall mashup. They’re not just places to put works of art, they’re places that put art to work, harnessing the power of performance, storytelling and creativity for the greater good of society. Warwick Arts Centre was born into this tradition. Second only to London’s Barbican in scale, it had been drawing great musicians, artists and performers from across the world to the heart of England for over 40 years.
But times change and Warwick Arts Centre knew they had to change too. They needed a new sense of purpose and a fresh identity that could do justice to the investment they’d made in their venue and digital platform, and they needed to reaffirm their role in the world and the role of the arts in people’s lives.
We started work together just before Covid, collaborating with the Arts Centre’s leaders, creatives and front of house team. As the pandemic tightened its grip, and venues mothballed across the country, the importance of art and culture really hit home. So often it was the arts that brought people together through the isolation of lockdown and it became clear to us that, in our world of warring identities, growing division and alienation, we could all do with more of this.
So, we built a new brand positioning around art’s power to connect us and framed the Arts Centre as a space where people from all parts of society and all walks of life are welcome. And how does art connect and unite us? Through emotion.
The arts are an extraordinary source of wisdom, support, connection, understanding, joy and inspiration for each and every one of us. They are the human condition wrapped up in emotion and it’s our job to bring them to more people’s lives.
In our evermore fragmented world, we believe the arts are one of the few places where we can all meet a place to share our experiences, a place to find common ground and understanding, a place to connect, to transform and explore new possibilities together. We know it’s no longer enough to put on shows and exhibitions and hope everyone will come and meet. We know that, however wide we open our doors, some people still feel there are barriers in the way. We know that sometimes the language of the arts and art centres can end up making culture seem far off and alien.
It’s our job to change this, to bring people together through the arts and to create the connections that spark ideas and understanding.
It’s not for us to say it’s good for you. No one wants to be told what to think these days. But we can reach out and simply share our love, passion and enthusiasm for the arts. Whoever we are, wherever we’re from, we all feel joy, excitement, sadness. We all laugh and look for togetherness. If we can make that simple emotional connection, we can show how the arts make us feel and we can pass that passion on.
Our new visual identity had a tricky job to do. Firstly, we needed to present Warwick Arts Centre as a world class cultural venue, on a par with anything you’d expect to find in London, Berlin, Paris or New York. At the same time, the Arts Centre had to be utterly welcoming, absolutely universal and completely un-standoffish.
The answer came from David Bowie, an artist who managed to be both purist and popular. From time to time, Bowie used the ‘cut-up technique’ to create random and surprising combinations of words and ideas for his lyrics – this mixture of happenchance, intuition and inspiration felt like a really accessible and engaging way to think about the artistic process. So, we designed a cut-up logo and we threw it around with cut-up typography and cut-up pictures of performers, artists and their art to create a joyful, emotional, unexpected new brand.