Arts commission

The vision

A new community-led commission is working to help shape the future of the arts and culture scene in H&F for local residents.

The independent Arts Commission is made up of residents, volunteers, art experts and local arts organisations.

It will aim to build on the success of the council’s Arts Strategy (pdf) with recommendations to further boost the borough’s already thriving arts scene so all residents regardless of their background can get involved.

What is the Arts Strategy?

The Arts Strategy aims to make H&F one of the country’s leading destinations for the arts. Its core aims include:

  • Destination: Boosting the local economy by developing and promoting a thriving borough for the arts
  • Creation: Supporting people to create and produce excellent art of all kinds
  • Inclusion: Giving residents from a wide range of backgrounds more opportunity to experience and participate in artistic and cultural activity

The methods

The commission will:

  • Understand the crucial questions it needs to ask in order to explore arts and culture in the borough
  • Examine the arts and culture scene within Hammersmith & Fulham and its impact for the future
  • Bring a broad range of expertise to questions about arts and culture in H&F
  • Gather evidence through primary and secondary research in order to have an informed debate
  • Produce a set of recommendations for the borough

It will look at eight themes during the commission by exploring the questions below:

  • Existing activity - What cultural activity is happening across the borough? Where isn’t it happening? How much of it is excellent and what would it take for it to be better supported and developed?
  • Social impact - What challenges are there in our borough that could be addressed with arts and culture, and what steps would we need to take to make this happen more?
  • Diversity and inclusion - How might H&F make diversity and inclusion a more central focus of its plans for arts and culture?
  • Cultural hubs and town centres - How have other boroughs, cities and countries created rich cultural hubs that are vibrant, relevant and sustainable, and what would it take to create more of these in H&F?
  • Residents’ priorities - What do residents and workers in H&F value about the arts and culture scene and how would they like to see these develop? How might arts and culture meet the needs of younger residents?
  • Participation and engagement - What role does arts and culture play in the skills and employability of people in our borough and what could be done to enhance and improve this?
  • Artists leading change - How can artists and cultural leaders shape and enhance communities and places and what steps should we be taking to enable that?
  • Long term strategy - How have other boroughs and places created change through investing in and enabling arts and culture and how long did it take for that impact to be realised? What alternative funding and resourcing models might be considered in this strategy?

In order for the Arts Commission to explore and debate such wide ranging issues, they decided to ask for unique research to be conducted, bringing together existing data as well as sector insight. Dr James Doeser and David Micklem created these papers for the commission and they are shared here.

The commission is chaired by Jonathan Church, a celebrated theatre director, whose first three shows were staged at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith. He is currently the artistic director for Bath Theatre Royal’s summer season of shows.

“The borough already supports an extraordinary wealth of arts experiences ranging from internationally recognised institutions to true grass roots individuals and companies,” said Jonathan.

“There are many questions to be asked about how this can be built upon and how arts and culture can be part of improving the quality of life for the borough’s residents.”

Cllr Andrew Jones, H&F Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Arts said: “We want to build on the success of our Arts Strategy. This independent commission will come up with recommendations to help us make H&F an international beacon for the arts which all residents regardless of their background can enjoy and participate in.”

The commission will produce a set of recommendations for the council.

The commissioners

  • Jonathan Church – Chair
    Jonathan is a theatre director from Nottingham. He was the artistic director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre (2001-2006) and artistic director of Chichester Festival Theatre (2006-2016). During his tenure at Chichester, he was commended for helping to save the failing theatre and overseeing a £22 million-pound redevelopment.

    In 2015 he formed Jonathan Church Productions in association with Delfont Mackintosh Theatres to produce and general manage high quality theatre in the West End, on tour and internationally. He is currently artistic director of Bath Theatre Royal’s Summer Season.

    He lives in Chichester with his wife and four daughters.

  • Cinzia D’Ambrosi
    Cinzia D’Ambrosi is an independent photojournalist and founder of the Photojournalism Hub and the Hate Hurts project.

    She has a masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the London College of Communication, University of London. She is a passionate advocate for human rights and social justice and has covered investigative photo stories on the exploitation of miners in illegal coal mines in China, the impact of hidden homelessness on women and children in the UK and police violence against refugees and asylum seekers in the Balkans. She has worked on many projects in collaboration with international charities, NGOs and extensively with Amnesty International.

    Through the Photojournalism Hub, she has presented talks, curated exhibitions and Photojournalism Nights in the borough, and has involved the local communities in open forums to help lead change.

    Her ongoing photography project ‘Hate Hurts’ is currently an Amnesty International campaign and on a touring exhibition in Czech Republic. Hate Hurts was selected for the European Month of Photography in Bulgaria (2018) and won an award from the Photographers Gallery in London (2017).

  • Nathalie Carrington
    Nathalie is a theatre-maker, drama facilitator and arts-based researcher based in Hammersmith & Fulham. She graduated from LAMDA with a degree in Professional Acting in 2011 and went on to work professionally in regional, national and international productions.

    Following this, Nathalie studied a masters in Inclusive Arts Practice at the University of Brighton and in 2016 founded​ ​This New Ground​, a performing arts organisation that seeks to elevate the artistic voices of learning disabled people in Hammersmith & Fulham.

    As founder and artistic director, Nathalie oversees a varied programme of creative activities and projects centred around This New Ground Collective, which is made up of 15 learning disabled people and artists. This New Ground aims to remove barriers & increase access for learning disabled people to lead, make and participate in the arts.

  • Steve North
    Steve is the general manager for UKTV's comedy and entertainment channels which include Dave, W, Gold, Yesterday and Really.

    He started his career at UKTV in 2001 as a scheduler, before leading the highly successful rebrand of UKTV G2 to Dave. Under Steve's astute leadership, the channel has invested in a raft of brand-defining UKTV shows including BAFTA and Emmy-nominated ‘Taskmaster’, ‘Judge Romesh’ and the return of multiple award-winning ‘Red Dwarf’.

    In 2016, Steve led the evolution of pay entertainment channel Watch to W, with a new brand position and target audience. An exciting fresh slate of original content accompanied the rebrand with recent shows such as ‘Emma Willis: Delivering Babies’ and ‘Inside The Ambulance’ topping the ratings.

    Steve has also overseen the growth of original content on Gold, with stand-out hits such as ‘Murder on the Blackpool Express’ and ‘Death on the Tyne’. Prior to UKTV, Steve was a Media Planner for the BBC and worked in Presentation at Viacom.

  • Becca Pelly Fry
    Becca originally trained as a sculptor at Northumbria University while working with film, performance and installation art.  For the past year, she has been head curator for Elephant West, a new contemporary art space in White City.

    Previously, Becca was director and curator of Griffin Gallery (inside the Head Office of art materials manufacturer, ColArt International) where she curated the majority of the exhibitions at the gallery between 2013 and 2018 and oversaw an artist residency programme, as well as the annual Griffin Art Prize. 

    Prior to her role with ColArt, Becca worked as an arts development officer for both Kensington & Chelsea and Camden councils, delivering borough-wide arts development programmes, festivals and large scale public art events.

  • Chris Tranchell
    Chris was born in Ringwood Hampshire and trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School with the likes of Brian Blessed and Patrick Stewart.

    He went on to star in the ‘Survivors’ as Paul Pitman and featured in a number of ‘Doctor Who’ episodes before being a presenter on ‘Play School’ for eight years.

    Chris has played in theatres across the UK and was a founding member of the Margate Stage Company.

    He is a member of the Hammersmith Society and has lived in Brook Green with his family since 1967.

  • Muz Azar

    Muz is an artist and founder of HQI, an alternative and artist-led institution to support and encourage developing visual and recording artists. HQI is based in White City Place in Wood Lane.

  • Ella Golt

    Ella grew up in Hammersmith & Fulham and has travelled the world as a circus clown performer and visual artist.

    She has a first class Fine Art degree from the University of East London, a masters from the Slade School of Art and has carried out extensive research in clowning.

    Ella directs her own company - Ella The Greats mini Circus - and also works as a workshop facilitator at And Circus in partnership with West London Zone.

    Ella The Greats mini Circus is an interactive family show, working across London in parks, galleries and community organisations, such as the H&F CommUNITY Day and HF Arts Fest.

    She also works closely with charities, outreach programmes, refugee groups, festivals - including Mboka in The Gambia - and has over 20 years’ experience in social circus.  

  • Sarah Ahern
    Sarah is the co-founder of Ginza, a start-up that enables hotels to offer their guests unique experiences hosted by local creatives and entrepreneurs.

    Prior to launching Ginza, Sarah was entrepreneur in residence at travel tech company Secret Escapes.

    She began her career in the energy industry, working in strategy and finance at Statoil (now Equinor) across the company’s offices in Oslo, Bergen and London.

    She has a double masters in Management from HEC Paris and CEMS, and an undergraduate degree in Economics from the London School of Economics. Sarah is also a fellow of the Centre for Entrepreneurs. She is a keen home cook and an avid consumer of literature and drama - both on stage and on screen.

    Sarah has lived in the borough since 2015 with her husband and their rescue dog, Florence.

  • Victoria Brignell
    Victoria Brignell is a radio producer and has been paralysed below the neck since she was six. She is Chair of Action on Disability, which provides a range of services to disabled people in London.

    She is a trustee of Magpie Dance that aims to empower people with learning difficulties by giving them the chance to participate in dance.

    She is also Chair of Hammersmith Amnesty International Group and an ambassador for the international disability charity CBM UK. She has written widely about disability issues, including for the New Statesman, where for four years she wrote a regular feature. Victoria has raised funds for several charities and previously served as a school governor and a local board member of Catalyst housing association. In 2013 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Anglia Ruskin University for being a ‘disability champion’.

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