Inspiring Creative Arts leader retires after 38 years

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Inspiring Creative Arts leader retires after 38 years


Director of Creative Arts, Ken Reid, takes a curtain call as he retires after an incredible 38 years at Leeds City College.

Ken joined former Thomas Danby College in 1979 as a history teacher in the general education department. He said: “Back then it was mandatory for vocational students to study general education. I taught catering students the history of food, nursing students the history of medicine etc. but I was developing a genuine passion for drama and the arts.

“In 1983, I was granted a one year secondment to the Central School of Speech and Drama in London to re-train as a drama practitioner. I then returned to Thomas Danby College to lead the Arts & Media department as it moved towards developing specialist courses of its own.

“The first course we developed in 1989 was a one year media course supported by funding from a Leeds Inner City Task Force to encourage disadvantaged young students into education.

“Over the next 20 years the Creative Arts department developed highly successful and popular BTEC courses in creative media, performing arts and art and design until the Leeds City College merger in 2010 at which point I was appointed as Head of Faculty for Creative Arts. Since then Computer Games Design courses have joined the offer along with degrees in Photography, Art Enterprise, Performance, Dance and Computer Games and today the department is 1,100 strong.”

Among Ken’s former students is Sammie Rutter who now teaches dance at Leeds City College: “Ken was my teacher back at Thomas Danby from 2006-2008, I always looked up to him and it was clear how passionate and enthusiastic he was about the arts, his department and students.

“Now being a tutor in his team, I will be so sad to see him go; he will be greatly missed by all. I can't thank him enough for the years of memories.”

Ken currently chairs the West Yorkshire Playhouse Creative Engagement Advisory Group, a key part of the Playhouse offer to the city, working to maximise opportunities for young people, those with disabilities, the elderly and dementia sufferers. He is also a founding member of the Grand Futures group, which played a major role in launching creative apprenticeships across the city.

Last year, the spotlight shone bright on Ken as he was recognised with a Leeds Award for his services to further education across the city. He will now continue to work with Leeds City College on an advisory basis to support the transition of Creative Arts to a stunning new building at the Quarry Hill Campus in 2019.

Ken made sure that departments he has been responsible for had an ethos of mutual respect between staff and students. He said: “I’m keen to ensure that the Creative Arts department gets the best possible start in the new building.

“I’ve absolutely loved working with creative students, following their journeys as they grow in confidence and skills development. I’ve also been blessed to work with fantastic staff who have been brilliant at balancing their desire to continue their creative practice with a genuine desire to see students grow and progress. I will miss the day-to-day buzz, the creative conversations and the fact that I was in a fortunate position to help others.

“On the other hand, I’m looking forward to watching some hardcore Yorkshire cricket, continue getting my heart broken by Sunderland A.F.C and getting stuck into a host of books which I’ve put off reading until I had a little more time. Now I have no excuses.”

Good luck, Ken. You will be missed by all at Leeds City College!