A Tribute to Lou by Gail and Barry Lord

Louis K. Fleming was Catharine McKenty’s cousin

Lou Fleming was our mentor and our friend.

Gail remembers the first time she met Lou – it was at Scarborough Civic Centre in Toronto to plan a cultural centre. Lou was representing Theatre Projects . Tall, trim and handsome, when Lou spoke everyone listened.

Not long after, Lou involved us in cultural planning for the city of Lexington, Kentucky. He taught us how to be consultants. Our client was the Mayor (now a Congressman) who was very demanding. Lou coached us on how to manage client expectations from inspiration to reality.

When Lou moved back to London he always stayed in touch with us. We well remember his lovely four-storey home near Buckingham Palace Road. One day in the early 1990s when we had established our own London office in Windmill Row, Lou invited Gail for tea to discuss ‘an interesting project’. Also invited was the Glaswegian managing director of Michael Wilford Architects (the successor firm to James Sterling). Before his death, Sterling had drawn a triangular scheme for a performing arts centre on the back of a napkin for Salford Quays. Now was the opportunity to realize it – and I was there in case they needed to show some art in the lobby. Of course I vehemently protested art in a theatre lobby as an insult and advocated for proper galleries. Lou as host took that very well and fortunately so did the architect. Soon we were on our way to Salford where Lou discovered that the Lyric Theatre was to be the core performance space (not an opera house) and Gail discovered an important collection of work by LS Lowry in the basement of the local museum.

That meeting in Lou’s parlour started a 6 year odyssey leading to The Lowry, one of Europe’s most successful cultural developments to open in 2000.

Over the years, we met from time to time, though Lou was very busy balancing work with caring for Val, and we were also too busy. Lou always looked out for opportunities for us and really built our confidence when times were not so good. Through Lou’s example, we learned that retirement is not much of a concept and so, like Lou, we continue to work and travel.

In 2009, Gail was delighted to be able to attend Lou and Anita’s wedding and to meet his family, especially his twin brother Bob and his daughter Elaine.

Lou – we will miss you more and more with every day and passing year.

Gail and Barry Lord

visit   www.lord.ca or join our Forum: www.culturalchange.ca

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