"I started my professional theatre career working in Theatre-In-Education and Community Theatre in the 1980s. I was part of a permanent actors’ ensemble, in collective organisational structures, where each staff member enjoyed equal pay, was a trade unionist and a board member and had an equal say from day one. Our schools work was radical in form and content, and fiercely child-centred. Our community theatre performances were democratic; designed so there was never a ‘fourth wall’ separating us from our audience. We were fearless in choosing what we wanted to say and how we wanted to say it. I worked with some of the most skilled actors I ever came across – who could hold the attention of an individual child as though for that moment they were all that mattered in the world, or could wade into an audience in a pub or club and hold them enthralled like the best yarn-spinner they had ever heard. That for me was cultural democracy in action. A revolutionary act. It’s not about nostalgia, it’s about making sure that artistic freedom and autonomy I tasted can be savoured anew by a new generation of artists and audiences."