Paul Smith Biography

About Paul Smith


Paul is a skilled cultural executive with an extensive history in the arts, including sector development, governance and fundraising, underpinned by the fundamentals of business and the ability to pull together diverse communities and key actors.

His experience is in culture, creativity and commerce and the bridges between them, with a bit of civic society thrown in. He has extensive skills in all aspects of running an arts business well, finding and managing money, creating partnerships, and realising projects as an executive in contemporary art, dance and theatre in the UK and America; strategic leader at Dance Consortia, Arts & Business and Liverpool Biennial; and as a board member of various arts companies and charities.

As Executive Director at Liverpool Biennial, Paul was responsible for strategic business functions including the teams that organise, staff, maintain, and promote a great diversity of exhibitions, events, venues, projects and campaigns. For each edition, the Biennial works with up to 70 artists, a dozen exhibition partners, 20 venues across the city, 300 volunteers and 80 funders. Operationally, its public realm pieces are always open to the public, the festival exhibitions are open seven days a week and community engagement projects run for months or years with continually changing activity, venues and participants. Many of the Biennial’s temporary locations are particularly challenging as they occupy historic, disused or unique spaces on a temporary basis.

Through long experience at festivals, theatres, venues, collaborative groups and large-scale artists’ commissions, he has comprehensive financial management and fundraising experience; marketing and strategic communications expertise; is skilled at the range of operations and human resource functions; effectively leads visitor services, mediation and learning programmes; and maintains a long commitment to community engagement commissions.

He is an expert at leveraging a visible, striking artistic programme with a dynamic communications campaign to draw in audiences and customers and in sustained institutional marketing to uncover new audiences, friends and supporters.

Paul has focused on building and maintaining relationships with governments, local authorities, funders, supporters and communities of interest locally, nationally and internationally, especially to develop strong, action-oriented relationships between art, audiences, stakeholders and cities. Working closely with cultural colleagues, civic authorities and supporters, he has generated and delivered strategic projects which wrought change in their city and constituent communities, especially as a member of the city-wide partnership which delivered Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture

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