In 2010 I was looking for a new base in Ipswich to house Pacitti Company. One of the sites I saw, by walking the streets and peering in windows, was the rather dishevelled Victorian Wing of the Ipswich Museum and Art School Gallery. The building was clearly in a state of disrepair, but a chance meeting with a pal who worked next door led to the emergence of a key and an impromptu visit took place. Made up of a series of interlinking rooms and spaces, it had holes in the roof, water running down the walls, paint peeling off just about every surface, and areas of the floor looked a little suspect. But I immediately knew I could make something happen there and set about listing all the things we would do if we secured it - pretty much all the things the Think Tank offers to this day.
Nine months later, after some great partnership working with Ipswich Borough Council and the Ipswich Museum Service, Pacitti Company moved in to the specially refurbished Victorian Wing. We launched it as the Think Tank - a physically, financially and attitudinally accessible building based resource for the ongoing public exploration and study of live performance and other associated areas. Re-imagining its three Victorian classrooms for the 21st Century, a friendly rolling programme of public events, led by artists and experts from a range of diverse fields, invited the public to come and spend time in creative comfortable surroundings.
For the decade I was curator and artistic director of the Think Tank the building served a number of purposes simultaneously. It offered a participatory public learning programme, housed Pacitti Company's office operations, became the beating heart of our in-house research activities, was my studio, functioned as an incubator space by offering artist residencies, became a go-to event space for alternative live performances, gigs, exhibitions, Think Tank Club nights and parties, and served as a venue during SPILL Festivals. These activities are currently being archived and also written about in a book on the work of Pacitti Company, which will become publicly available in due course.
The Think Tank is now run by Robin Deacon, my successor at SPILL, and continues to offer a diverse rolling programme, which in turn shapes each edition of the festival. To find out more visit the SPILL website