John Cole was born in North London where his interest in theatre and the arts began through completion of numerous LAMDA exams. At an early age he moved to Worcestershire where his love for theatre grew as he attended workshops, summer schools and continued to with the LAMDA curricular.
John took up volunteering in his local theatre as well as helping with local drama and theatre groups first on stage, then later learning the backstage crafts.
After completing a Diploma in the Performing Arts at the local college, John spent 18 months travelling and then spent several years working in other industries, including retail, hospitality and manufacturing as a way of discovering how the arts are used within them, while seeing the decline and struggles within the arts industry through volunteering. Of his experience John said:
“It’s really sad to see how much of the Arts Industry has been lost to other businesses and industries, both local and corporate. I’m not sure people realise just how much of our industry we’ve lost over the last decade or so, it’s been like watching a public service being eroded into the private sector.”
In in early 2017 John became chairman of Evesham Arts Association before moved to Somerset later that year where he began to bring together all that he had learned through a weekly blog (which was house on the is domain) in 2018, it was this that formed the foundations of The New Greatest Show on Earth project. About his study, John says,
“One of the biggest things you learn by working in other industries is how much they rely on the arts, it’s very much part of their success, whether it be their logos, promotions or the design of their in products, it all roots in our industry as well as service of sales and training. It becomes clear why in the arts industry has become unsustainable as a career. So many of the hardest and most responsible roles are taken on by volunteers, which when matched with similar responsibilities in other industries would be only be taken on with pay, yet the Arts still plows over £6 billion into the UK economy each year and receiving so little back in return.”
In June 2019 John officially launched The New Greatest Show on Earth project with the first phase going live in September of the same year (information packs available on our website). The aim being to bring the industry together, while they continue to work independently under their own brands, to raise the game to get more people paid at a far better rate for what they love doing in this industry. At the same time securing it’s future by becoming the talk of every other industry. Of the project John said:
“This is no ordinary project, it’s huge, and now is the right time to come together to rebuild the industry stronger then ever. We are at an exciting point in our times, a prime opportunity for the [Arts] industry to re-establish itself as the industry that is the foundation of all industries. To see the opportunities you only have to answer two questions:
- If you took the arts industry away at all levels, how many businesses could survive?
Answer: None! No business can survive without some form of arts.
- What would happen to other businesses if the arts industry came together and took things to the next level?
Answer: I think the Arts can move mountains, if we learn to collaborate with businesses and other industries rather than rely on them for funding. Mixed with returning to our roots we can help solve the climate crisis, the economy, politics and poverty. This alone would make us one of the, if not, the most attractive, competitive and profitable industry going.”