Curator's Choice: Suzie Leighton on London's Inside Out festival

| 20 October 2014

Curator's Choice: Co-director Suzie Leighton's on this week's Inside Out festival in London

A photo of a woman smiling
© Nick Wiltshire
“At this time of year, I wake up most mornings wishing that time travel had already been invented. We have such an eclectic and intriguing range of events in the festival that I would love to be at them all.

It was conceived six years ago, when the members of The Culture Capital Exchange, which is a membership organisation for universities which I co-run, were asked to come up with an idea that would only work for them as a collaborative endeavour.

We decided to showcase the huge contribution that London’s universities, art schools and conservatoires made to the cultural life of the capital, the many intriguing partnerships with artists and cultural organisations and the amazing research and wonderful spaces that rarely, if ever saw the light of day.

In our fifth year, we are working with Somerset House, Palgrave McMillan, The Freud Museum, The Griffin Gallery, The National Trust and the Poetry Society to name a very few.

Londoners love a complex question, a challenging debate, a leftfield idea. That is why, as well as the funny and the entertaining, like a bit of Cockney Yiddish Music Hall or a Maths and Magic Show, the festival has never shied away from contentious issues and tough debates.

This year we will be examining the psychology of atrocity – how we reconcile our national self-image with the atrocity and devastation we know happens in a conflict situation such as the air strikes in Syria.

We will also be addressing issues around loneliness, dementia care and women, fashion and power.

We know that people don’t want to come to events and just be talked at. They want to express their options and ask questions. We make sure that people can get stuck in and have a go.

I don’t think that there are many festival curators who in any given day might be working with medieval historians, mathematicians, contemporary dancers, visual artists, political theorists and poets. But that is my standard working day.

I end up doing a lot of ‘translation’, and it can get more than a little hectic, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. And of course the festival couldn’t happen without the team and all our partners.

I honestly can’t choose a single event out of the programme. If you forced me I’d have to say that I’m particularly looking forward to sitting in the Seat of Wisdom and having my say there. I’m looking forward to some of our debates – I like a challenging conversation.”


The Culture Capital Exchange is a member organisation committed to promoting the exchange of knowledge and expertise by providing a vital network between Higher Education, business and the cultural and creative sectors across London to mutual benefit. They bring the best ideas and talent together and encourage them to develop.

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