John Lee is a Senior Fellow in Knowledge Exchange in the Department of Performing Arts. He has worked at the University of Winchester since 2007 following a career as an international performer and director, making and performing work in 37 countries throughout the world.
He has also been Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Street Arts at the University of Winchester from 2008-17, a unique degree programme that was shortlisted on two occasions for Excellence and Innovation in the Times Higher Education Awards in the UK. He has also been programme leader for the BA(Hons) Creative Industries Programme (2008-9).
He is the co-director of FUSE, a not for profit outdoor arts company currently commissioned to creative large festivals- Somerfest, Bridgwater Quayside Festival and Dunster-by-Candlelight. He produces and co-curates festivals, creates and directs performances and performs that collectively ,as events, attract audiences in excess of 60,000 a year. The company has been awarded Arts Council (ACE) funding for the last six years and FUSE is currently in receipt of ACE funding and local council commissions for the next three years. He is currently in receipt of RKE funding from the University to evaluate and write about the impact of this large-scale project.
FUSE has created a wide variety of performances that include (2003-14) Conference of the Birds, The Village Fete, I Scream Van, Café Lente, Caravan Show (in collaboration with fishproductions) (all that have received ACE funding), and Spin and The Family Outing (2001-3) Impermanence of Fire (opening Glastonbury Festival (200). He has performed in Misguided Tours (2009-2018) South Hill Park; Cheltenham Literature Festival, Thames Festival, Belfast Festival of Fools.
He trained with Jacque Lecoq (1984), Keith Johnstone (1985/1996), Improbable Theatre (1997) Carlo Boso (1986) (Commedia dell’arte) Phillippe Gaulier (1984-86) (Clown, Buffon, Neutral Mask, Le Jeu) Theatre de Complicite (1983).
He has a diverse range of degrees in different subjects: M.A. 2000 in Performance Writing (Dartington College): University of Plymouth; M.Sc. 1976 Political and Social Philosophy: University of London; Masters of Business Administration (MBA) 1972: University of Liverpool; BA (Hons) Economics and Geography: University of Leicester 1970.
Previous to working at the University, he has had a varied and continuously creative life as a performer, director, dramaturg and writer. He has performed at London Mime Festival (1986), The London International Theatre Festival (with Magnificent Seven) (1986), Northern Mime Festival (1987), and in Europe (1985-1995) and across the world in theatres and festivals especially for the British Council. The British Council (BC) toured his solo shows alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company to Russia (Ukraine) where he worked in Revolutionary Square (as the first European outdoor artist in Ukraine), the Philippines and Brunei, across Southern Africa as the first teacher after independence of physical theatre to multi ethnic groups in Namibia, in tin shed theatres in Botswana, as a dramaturg to the National Malawi Dance Company and as a performer and workshop leader in Commedia dell’arte and African dancers at Bagamoyo Theatre School in Tanzania on the theme of AIDS. The British Council has toured him extensively as a Middle East specialist in most festivals in the Gulf countries and to Central and South America performing at international festivals and theatres in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Equator, Nicaragua and Peru. He has also performed at Hong Kong festivals and as first European outdoor artist in traditional Buddhist festivals in Japan aa well as in Vancouver, Canada and Japan representing UK in EXPO festivals.
As a European performer, he performed as a solo artist in New Variety palaces across Germany 1985-90 sharing the programme with Slava and other international artist, Belgium (including Laughter Festivals), Netherlands (including Festival of Fools, Oerial festival. Melkweg), Switzerland, Austria, Italy (Charlie Rivel festival), Spain, Denmark (Aarhus Festival) and with the collective The Magnificent Seven at the Limburg and Freiberg Festivals.
He has performed and toured extensively throughout the UK and Ireland between 1981 and 1995 in a wide range of venues, arts centres, theatres, and events with a range of shows including Fool on a Shoestring and Blue Moon (1986-90) and in several festivals including Hat Fair, Glastonbury , Larmertree, Cheltenham Literature Festival (Misguided Tour), Belfast Festival of Fools, B-festival, National Theatre, Albion Fayres, Elephant Fair, Strawberry Fair, Festival of Fools in Penzance and Netherlands.
He performed in early London alternative comedy and new circus circuit and performed alongside Steve Coogan, Julian Cleary (Joan Collins Fan Club), Jeremy Hardy and others and at the Hackney Empire with Theatre Complicite, Keith Allen. He has also performed and worked with the following companies fishproductions, Shiftwork (1995-98), Taboo Theatre (1988), The Magnificent Seven (1986-87), Skulduggery (1980-1985),
He has been consultant and teacher to: Belfast Community Circus and circus and comedy companies in Ireland and at several festivals (including Cork and Dublin Festival), Catalan Outdoor Arts Association and Visiting Lecturer at University of Lleida and in Barcelona.
He co-founded the first Circus School in the UK in Bristol-School for Fools / Fooltime (1983-7). He was member of Arts Council South West Board (1986-7)
He has performed in films as Comrades (1986) by Bill Douglas and TV variety programmes as Game for a Laugh. He has had TV specials on his work in German TV and Spanish TV with other international comedians as Jango Edwards and was the subject of BBC Arts in Third Millennium that featured The Caravan Show (with fishproductions). He has worked in commercial pantomime - Bristol Hippodrome as support act to comedians Canon and Ball.
He has directed and written for 28 professional companies including Kneehigh Theatre Company, Green Ginger, Girls Own Theatre Company, Shift Work Theatre Company (Scotland), Bedlam, Little Big Top Company, Old Rope String Band, New Rope String Band, Bell and Bullock, Medicine Show, fishproductions.
Areas of expertise
Artistic Practices in Public Spaces, Comedy and Popular Performance, Site Specific Performance, Place Making, Creative Entrepreneurship and Production.
Co-produced and curated (FUSE) Bridgwater Quayside Festival Outdoor Arts Festival (July 2018). ACE funded and Sedgemoor District Council three-year commission. Multi stranded project titled Culture and Diversity in Outdoor Arts Awarded £49,850 from the Arts Council England (ACE) creating three major outdoor arts festivals and other performances/events across Somerset with associated KE professional forums, community engagement projects, educational and training with a digital strategy to disseminate new knowledge and creating significant impact. Projected audience numbers in excess of 110,000.
Co-produced and curated (FUSE) Somerfest (June 2018) Outdoor Arts Festival ACE funded and Taunton Deane Borough Council commissioned. Project title Garden : Town : Circus. Themed around 250th Anniversary of Circus in UK and the designation of Taunton (2016/17) as one of Garden towns in UK. Audience 16,000.
Performer Misguided Tour Festival of Fools, Belfast (May 2018) with Richard Cuming and Sally Mann performances of situationist inspired production by Fuse Performance and fishproductions.
Co-curated Dunster-by-Canlelight (FUSE) (Dec 2017) in West Somerset over two nights. Audience 20,000.
Co- director outdoor performance event 1917 Russian Revolution November 2017 Co-director Aller, Somerset Audience 2500.
Co-produced and curated (FUSE) new festival Bridgwater Quayside Festival (July 2017) Outdoor Arts Festival ACE funded and Sedgemoor District Council commissioned. Project titled Culture History of Bridgwater. Audience 7000.
Co-produced and curated (FUSE) Somerfest (June 2017) Outdoor Arts Festival Project title Feast ACE funded and Taunton Deane Borough Council commissioned. Audience 15,000.
Co-produced and curated (FUSE) Somerfest (June 2016) first of three street arts festival with ACE funding and Taunton Deane Borough Council commissioned (engaging members of University of Winchester Staff and students).Project title Countryside into Town. Place making and interactive environments including installation of a ‘Beach’ in Taunton town centre. Audience 12,000.
Consultant, writer and dramaturg National Heritage Lottery-funded Routes on the River Tone (Jan-March 2016) in association with Somerset Wildlife Trust (developing locative media). University RKE funded project Street Arts, Social Media and Promenade Performance (March 2016) creating walks using street arts techniques in urban nature corridors in Taunton/developing apps to facilitate future walkers/users.
Masterclass workshops Anna Munro Theatre Slovenia (July 2015) Eastern European Summer School.
Consultant and Dramaturg (FUSE) Performances at Larmertree Festival (July 2015) International Festival of Contemporary Arts Glastonbury (June 2015).
Co-produced and curated (FUSE) Somerfest (June 2015) Outdoor Arts Festival Project title Taunton Deane Borough Council commissioned. Audience 10,000.
Co-founder EFETSA (European Federation of Education and Training in Street Arts) (March 2015).
Masterclass workshops ‘Street Arts Aesthetics’ March 2015 MA Street Arts University of Lleida.
Project Leader EU funded Intensive Programme (2014) €37,025 Project Title Transnational Practice and Street Arts Year Two University of Winchester Partners: University of Anadolu (Turkey), University of Brest (France) University of Winchester(UK). Outputs-performances, films, articles, creative companies, future student placements and partners projects (classified by British Council as Excellent Models of Practice).
Consultant/mentor Sugla Summer School (July 2014) in Ljubljana, Anna Munro Theatre Ljubljana Slovenia Slovenia for Ministry of Culture, City and Tourism..
Co-director(FUSE) Conference of the Birds (2014) Touring production SW England ACE funded.
Co-producer (with 101 Centre, Newbury): Red Earth Company residency and site-specific performance (May 2014) with Dr Olu Taiwo, University of Winchester.
Producer (FUSE) Creative Hubs at University of Winchester(with Catalan company Kamcatcha) and in Somerset (May 2014) ACE Funding to create/direct work to professional standards by graduates/ undergraduates for events/festivals/performances within the University’s wider community.
Consultant to Catalan Street Arts Education on advisory board (March 2014). Membership-professors and leading academics/practitioners from Europe in education and performing arts.
Dramaturg student/staff exchanges Atelier 231 (Rouen, France) Fish and Chip Festival (January 2014) work with professional artists and experts from architect/fine art departments, creating interventions/sculptures (March 2014).
Producer and Co-director (FUSE) Fire Garden promenade Conference of the Birds (December 2013) University of Winchester King Alfred’s Campus.
Director Student extracurricular performances National TV Awards ceremony (South East) (November 2013).
Project Leader EU funded Intensive Programme (2013) €38,451 Project Title Transnational Practice and Street Arts Year One University of Winchester Partners: University of Anadolu (Turkey), University of Brest (France) University of Winchester(UK). Outputs-performances, films, articles, creative companies, future student placements and partners projects.
UK Project leader in association with ZEPA France - staff/student exchanges with Le Fourneau Creation Centre in Brittany, Rias festivals (2013) Rouen (2013). Funded largely by ZEPA and Faculty of Arts/Winchester plus international funding. Calculated benefit-Street Arts programme received equivalent £32,000 EU funding in ZEPA activities.2011-13.
Co-Organiser Conference Street Arts Winter Academy (SAWA) (July 2013)) Marseilles.
Visiting Lecturer (April 2013) on MA Street Arts Creation: University of Lleida and University of Barcelona.
Created enterprise company (Platform) (2013) with financial support from Enterprise scheme Do It. Graduates/students, under my direction, perform/run workshops at different festivals/events using the generated income to enhance their University experience (additional training, student exchanges). They delivered their expertise across a wide range arts and non-arts activities e.g. London Brighton Bike Ride.
Co-director (FUSE), the company has a three-year Service Level Agreement (SLA) (2013-16) with Taunton Deane Borough Council and three-year agreements with Somerset Wildlife Trust (2013-16) to produce cultural events, run creative workshops with young people and workshops in Street Arts.
Co-director (FUSE) Streetlinkz (funded Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset Council, NHS, Somerset Youth Services, Benchmark and various multi agencies). (2013-Present) Developed arts activities, arts clubs, arts events in Halcon and Priorswood, Taunton (areas in top 10% in UK with indices of high social deprivation).The projects regarded as models of practice and have been transferred to other regions, for example South Somerset (2013-14) The projects were awarded Inspire Mark by LOCOG 2012 (2012) and the Anne Frank Award (2013).
Co-organiser Conference in collaboration with Hat Fair (July 2012) University of Winchester What next: street arts in the UK Invited European and UK practitioners and academics.
Director of University of Winchester student performances at London Student Olympics, London Olympics and Paralympics (July-September 2012).
Co-Producer Student exchanges with international tutors creating original work in international contexts. Slovenia- East-West festival Maribor (June 2012).
Assessor (June 2012) at Fai’ar Itinerant Academy of Street Arts (University of Provence) Marseilles, France.
Co-directed performances FiraTarrega Creation Centre by international cast of students and emergent artists- Production Guernica (March 2012) with Dr Olu Taiwo.
Co-organiser Student Residencies with Sarruga Catalan company Newbury Arts Festival (2012).
Conferences Papers, Symposia, RKE papers
Research Conversation filmed with Simon Chatterton (May 2018) on Artistic Practices in Public Spaces. The conversation will be recorded and disseminated through the Centre for Performance Practice and Research.
Presentation Higher Education and Outdoor Arts (March 2018) at 101 Creation Centre in Newbury, National Centre for Outdoor Arts to leading representatives of the sector in UK/Europe with director of Fai'ar, National Centre for Street Arts, University of Provence.
Conference paper and masterclass (November 2017) at the Circostrada conference at the 10th Anniversary of SUGLA School of Contemporary Performing and Street Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia on The Influence of Education and Training on the Present and Future of Street Arts Street arts educators and trainers from across Europe.
Presentation/paper Coastal Culture Network (October 2017) Bridgwater Arts Centre Presentation of Garsington Opera’s screened performance of Handel’s Semele at the Bridgwater Quayside Festival July.
Conference paper Post Graduate Symposium University of Lleida (March 2017) Dramaturgy of Public Space in UK Street Arts.
Conference organiser Symposium/webinar on Diversity in Outdoor Arts (September 2017) Knowledge Exchange-academics, practitioners, policy makers and emergent artist live and online at University of Winchester.
Practicum Workshop and Conference paper (Dec 2015) Education and Training in Street Arts How are training and educational pedagogies compatible in Street Arts Funded by National Culture Department, Slovenia through Ana Monro Theatre.
Co-organiser conference and conference paper Keynote speech Street Arts and Community Action SAWA SA Winter Academy conference Slovenia (March 2015).
Consultant to ZEPA on UK artists/academics in a series of regional meetings
University of Rouen (June 2015) Interactivity, engagement and the public
University of Arras (May 2015) Street arts in the UK
University of Brest (March 2015) Séminaire Arts et espace public#2 conference, Normalisation in public space Interactivity, engagement and the public. Two of these published through ZEPA publications in France.
Pre-show talk Theatre Royal (February 2014) The Dark Clown.
Lecture Futures of Capitalism (February 2014) Sponsored by Winchester Cathedral, Winchester Improvement District and University of Winchester.
Conference Paper European league of institute of Arts (ELIA) Porto (2013) Interactive Assessment Methods in Street Arts.
Conference paper University of Plymouth (2013) Zombie Symposium Carnival Traditions and the Zombie.
Conference paper FIRT Conference (July 2013) Barcelona Theatre Institute Whose legacy is it anyway
Conference papers East West Festival Maribor Slovenia (June 2012) UK Street arts relationships to Eastern European traditions.
Conference organizer and conference paper SAWA (Street Arts Winter Academy) University of Winchester Learning and Teaching award. University of Winchester (2012) Co-founded conference with Fai Ar; Circostrada network for Street and Circus Arts Paris; Anna Munro Theatre, Ljubljana Slovenia.
Conference paper ZEPA conference Brighton (2012) Formal Street Arts Education in the UK
Conference paper University of Winchester (2011) RKE Day Arts and Wellbeing Streetlinkz: a model practice
Conference paper Slovenia Symposium (March 2010) (with Professor Tony Dean) Street Arts Formal Education in the UK
Conference Paper (2008) De Montfort University Playing for Laughs. Please Stand in an Orderly Queue. Co presented with Dr Richard Cuming and Sally Mann
Conference Paper: Theatre materials. Street Arts and Higher Education Models. Central School Speech and Drama (2008)
Links with Institutions & Organisations
101 Centre Newbury
Bridgwater Cultural Partners: Bridgwater Arts Centre, Bridgwater Library, MacMillan Theatre, Sedgemoor FM, Blake Museum, Engine Room, Bridgwater Town Council
Sedgemoor District Council
Taunton Dane Borough Council
Brewhouse Theatre Taunton
University of Anadolu
University of Brest
University of Lleida
University of Girona
Fa’air Centre of Street Arts University of Provence
Anna Munro Theatre Slovenia
Somerset Wildlife Trust
Dramaturg/facilitator, [Kneehigh Theatre Company] 1993 – 2008Staff Directory