Naomi Russell

Naomi Russell
Creative Producer & Strategic Consultant
My experience and deep interests:
I am based in: Amsterdam
THNK connection: THNKer , AMS Class 15

I’ve worked most of my career in the cultural sector, with a strong lean toward the performing arts. After studying musicology and performance at university/Conservatorium, I worked in politics for 2 years –including on the 1997 UK general election campaign for the Labour Party –before setting out on a career in arts management.

My first two roles in the arts shaped me enormously. The first at the Almeida Theatre under the artistic leadership of Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid was one of the most purpose driven environments I’ve had the privilege to be part of. The second at the Young Vic, working with Artistic Director David Lan and with him playing a big part in the first five years that transformed the Young Vic to be the UK's most vital force in theatre.

In 2007 I established an agency Wonderbird, which I led for 10 years. We advised many world-class cultural institutions on strategic development, growth, and change. This is what brought me to Amsterdam, now my home.

Crossing sectors, crossing borders, constantly being on a (preferably vertical) learning curve has defined my approach to work and life. I’ve worked with 100+ different cultural organizations in 8 countries, and sustain a core belief in the value of the arts and the role of artists in our society.

Currently working as a freelance strategic advisor and dance producer, I also teach creative entrepreneurship at the Maastricht Academy for Fine Arts & Design. I love to travel, read widely, and practice yoga and pilates to keep everything in balance.

At this stage of my working life, I am increasingly preoccupied with two topics:

  1. How we create new eco-systems to develop and nourish artists. I want to explore ways of doing this that is truly pan-European in mindset and structure and creates a virtuous circle of capital: the liquidity to quickly incubate and birth new ideas.
  2. New models for the cultural sector in the future –that defend institutions and resist institutionalism. What does it mean to truly put artists and communities center stage? What are the reimaged models? –less hierarchical, more fluid, responsive, collective.

I have the seed of an idea that I believe can realize answers –2019 and during THNK is the year I put that to the test!