Mary Cloake was born in Cardiff, South Wales, grew up in County Wexford in South East Ireland and attended Trinity College Dublin.
In the early 1990s she worked in Dundalk, Co Louth, as the Arts Officer there, running Dundalk Town Hall – a concert-hall style theatre venue – and establishing the Basement Gallery, a new space for the visual arts in the North East. She subsequently took up various roles in the Arts Council (of Ireland) most recently as Director. During her time at the Arts Council she focused on developing the arts throughout the country, including outside of the main centres of population where partnerships with local authorities were crucial, as were programmes to support independent artists to develop distinctive and indigenous artistic work. Highlighting the role of the arts as central to the everyday lives of the people of Ireland was an important part of her mission, and to this end she worked with the media, with government departments, including Health, Justice and Foreign Affairs and with a variety of inspiring individuals.
Since 2012 Mary has been Chief Executive of the Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, where she is working with her team on a major festival, Bluecoat 300, to celebrate the Bluecoat as England’s oldest arts centre and 300 years of the distinctive building in which it is housed. She is excited to be based in a city which has a thriving cultural dynamic, an exceptionally effective arts consortium (LARC, Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium) and where the arts and culture are considered by the Mayor to be ‘the rocket fuel of economic development’.The Panel