Highly experienced arts professional with a wealth of knowledge gained at senior management level with Arts Council England and the commercial music industry. An analytical thinker with a flair for business and artistic planning, artist management, creative and event production, staff management, administration and fund-raising (£415k for projects since 2007)
Alan James started his career, as one of the UK’s first full-time, salaried, Entertainment Officers, at the University of London Union. Putting this venue’s name (ULU) on the map during the "post-punk" years, he promoted important London shows for The Smiths, Joy Division, Misty In Roots, Cabaret Voltaire, The Pop Group, Wah!, The Raincoats, Scritti Politti and The Slits – amongst many others over a four year run.
In the early Eighties he became a pioneer of world music working on the inaugural WOMAD Festival in 1982 as tour manager for The Burundi Drummers on their historic first visit to Britain. The rest of that decade saw him hosting the first ever world music radio show on regional radio (Worldwide for GWR), co-programming the ground-breaking ICA, Clevedon and Mersea Island WOMAD Festivals, touring with The Smiths, setting up the Yu Fe Danse Sound System in Bristol and providing the pre-show music for Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Tour.
In the Nineties he spent six years as Head Of Performances at The Midland Arts Centre in Birmingham. He programmed music, theatre, dance and comedy across three venues and instigated the “Sounds In The Round” world music programme in the outdoor arena. Alan also pursued a DJ career, based in the growing club scene in Bristol (The Wild Bunch/Smith and Mighty/Def Jam etc ) becoming a resident at The Big Chill, WOMAD and Summer Sundae Festivals and playing club and festival dates all over Europe. At the close of the decade he became Executive Producer on the State of Bengal/Ananda Shankar touring and recording projects and managed the Real World records recording debut of vichitra veena player, Gopal Shankar Misra from Benares, India.
In 2000 he was Programme Manager for Birmingham City Council's Forward Festival, a culminating event for Sir Simon Rattle's Towards The Millennium decade long programme, which included 47 new arts commissions for Birmingham's arts and cultural organisations.
From 2001 to 2006 he was Head Of Contemporary Music at Arts Council England and continued his freelance DJ’ing, writing and artist’s management activities.
In 2007 he set up an artists management, creative tour and event production and consultancy company called Hold Tight which currently manages Real World Recording artists Spiro and 9Bach. Hold Tight has also worked with The Imagined Village, The Bays and The Heritage Orchestra, Chris Wood’s Handmade Life, Johnny Kalsi’s Dhol Foundation, Twelfth Day, Maarja Nuut, Sam Lee and Sheema Mukherjee.
Alongside his direct involvement in many aspects of the music industry, Alan has also produced numerous large-scale outdoor and site-specific multi media shows involving sound, light, AV and visual artists. The most recent of these projects being “Audible Forces”, in 2013 a touring show for Oxford Contemporary Music, based on interpretations of the Aeolian Harp by six sound artists including Max Eastley, Jony Easterby, Mark Anderson, Dan Fox, Mike Blow, Nathaniel Mann and Kathy Hinde.
Alan has served as Chairman of EFDSS, Stans Café Theatre Company and of the Welsh Music Foundation. He was a Director of Cerdd Cymru:Music Wales, the company which brought WOMEX, the leading world music expo, to Cardiff in 2013.
In 2004 Alan contributed an essay to the Big Chill’s “Crossfade” anthology (Serpents Tail) about his work in the “post punk” era.
Alan James is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Science (FRSA)
Director - Hold Tight – Creative Production, Artist Management, Arts Consultancy - 2006 to now
Head Of Contemporary Music - Arts Council England - 2000 to 2006
Programme Manager - Forward Festival - 1998 to 2000
Head of Performances - Midlands Arts Centre - 1992 to 1998
Director - Jazz Central - 1990 to 1992
General Manager - Public Parts Theatre Company - 1990 to 1992