The arts and culture sector is presently grappling with the loss of Emma Gladstone, an esteemed senior arts advisor and programmer whose departure has resonated across the international community. The news of her passing has prompted many to seek out more about her life and the impact she had on the world of dance and performance. This reflection on Emma’s contributions and her untimely death seeks to honour her memory and express the profound sense of loss felt by those who knew her and her work.
Emma Gladstone’s career in the arts was marked by a visionary approach that helped to reshape the landscape of dance and performance. Her leadership roles spanned several significant organisations, notably including her time as the CEO and artistic director of Dance Umbrella, a revered London-based international dance festival. The festival thrived under her guidance, showcasing groundbreaking performances and fostering collaborations that pushed the boundaries of artistic innovation.
Beyond her tenure at Dance Umbrella, which concluded in 2021 after 13 years, Emma’s influence extended to other prestigious positions. She served as Artistic Director of the Rolex Arts Festival in Athens and Director of Creative Europe’s Big Pulse Intensive. Her passion for the arts was also evident in her role as a former Artistic Director of BBC Young Dancer, where she played a crucial part in nurturing the growth of young talent within the industry.
Emma’s contributions were not limited to her executive roles; she was a passionate advocate for the professional development of artists and cultural workers. Her efforts were instrumental in creating opportunities for emerging talents to hone their craft and for established artists to explore new avenues of expression. Her dedication to the arts was matched by an unwavering commitment to inclusivity and diversity, challenging entrenched norms and championing underrepresented voices.
The impact of Emma’s work on the dance community cannot be overstated. She transformed Dance Umbrella into a platform that not only entertained but also engaged audiences with powerful narratives and social commentary. Through her leadership, the festival became known for its innovative programming and its role in facilitating dialogue and reflection within society.
Emma’s legacy is one of empowerment and inspiration, as she tirelessly worked to ensure that dance and performance served as a conduit for storytelling and cultural exchange. Her influence will continue to be felt by those who follow in her footsteps, striving to make the arts a reflection of the richness and diversity of human experience.
As the arts community mourns Emma Gladstone, there is a shared recognition of the void left by her absence. Her passion, expertise, and commitment to the arts have left an indelible mark on the industry, and her loss is felt deeply by colleagues, admirers, and the countless individuals whose lives she touched through her work. Emma’s memory will endure as a reminder of the transformative power of the arts and the importance of fostering a creative legacy that endures beyond our own time.