Bill Harpe

Position / Role

Staff Portrait - Bill HarpeDirector & co-Founder of The Black-E, Bill also sits as Trustee.

Education & Work: English degree (Cambridge). Formerly: Director Commonwealth Arts Festival (Cardiff); Director Opening Celebrations Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool; Director Anniversary of Independence Celebrations, Zambia; Deputy Group Head (job share) Arts & Recreation Policy Study Group, GLC.

Bill Harpe was born in Darlington and comes from a family with roots in the mining communities of County Durham. He won a scholarship in Maths and Physics to Cambridge where he chose to read English Literature and also became involved in the performing arts and dance. After graduation he pursued a dance training in London, and paid for this training by working as a cook. Work followed as a freelance dancer, choreographer and producer and as the director of a Commonwealth Arts Festival.

A commission to direct the programme of Opening Celebrations of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool (including the creation of a Choreographed Mass) was followed by an invitation to work in Zambia and celebrate the third anniversary of the country's independence with a touring production of a Greek tragedy (Aeschylus' "Oresteia") using Zambian music and dance.

On his return from Africa Bill became a co-founder of the Blackie (Connecting artists and communities) - established as Britain's first community arts project - and has continued to work there as both artist and administrator. His work as an artist has focused on the arts and participation, including participatory theatre, participatory exhibitions, and creative and co-operative games which are the subject of Games for The New Years. 

He has directed four outdoor "Festivals of Games" in Liverpool city centre, as well as travelling around the U.K. and to Ireland, Denmark and Jamaica to lead games and talk about games. In addition to these commitments he has written on dance and cultural issues for "The Guardian" and for magazines and periodicals in the U.K. and abroad. He also was granted a 'working sabbatical' to contribute to cultural policy and strategy at the Greater London Council. Outstanding ambitions include a desire to see the final completion of the redevelopment of the Blackie building in order to host large scale events and games, and to travel to Cuba to undertake research and to lead games. Bill's enthusiasm for elephants has resulted in a personal collection of elephant books, photographs, and carvings.