Originally from Seaham, County Durham, I have lived in Edinburgh for ten years. I’m married with a five year old son.
I studied Theology – Professional Media BA (Hons) at Trinity & All Saints College (University of Leeds) and graduated in 2001. However I had been eager to get stuck into the world of work, and by the end of my first year at uni I had joined the West Yorkshire Playhouse, working full time alongside my degree. I graduated with a CV crammed with marketing, pr and customer service, not to mention two years’ experience of managing the largest regional theatrical box office under my belt. I also worked on the city-wide Community Network, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. This project secured my love of grassroots participatory projects and my conviction that when communities work together just about anything is possible.
My grassroots audience development career continued via roles at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Leeds City Council Learning & Culture department; and Arts About Manchester (AAM). As Head of Audience Development at AAM I worked across the Greater Manchester region and across many art forms, exploring ways to have conversations with non-attenders. I led the marketing response for Revealed Histories: Remembering Slavery, the Greater Manchester commemoration for the Centenary of the Abolition of the British Slave Trade Act. My team worked across many campaigns and with many people including families, students, BAME communities and mental health organisations. My personal interest focused on issues affecting Deaf and disabled people, exploring ways to lobby organisations to get their act together and to change policies and practices so that institutions could be inclusive and welcoming for people with access needs.
In 2008, aged 27, I moved to Edinburgh for the role of Chief Executive of Craft Scotland. My role was to transform a tired Scottish Arts Council project into a viable organisation. Within three years we launched in USA, where I was invited to become a cultural ambassador for the Scottish Government, working with the Government’s office in Washington D.C. I guest lectured at a number of institutions including University of St Andrews, sat on a number of select committees such as Talente, Munich and have been invited to speak at conferences at home and abroad including Asimetrica, Madrid.
My son was born in 2013. I left Craft Scotland in 2015. Since this time I have campaigned against maternity discrimination. I also run my own marketing business, working with businesses across Scotland to develop their marketing and business strategies.
In November 2017, I joined the Scottish Liberal Democrats. I am a passionate believer in the benefits of community, the power of conversation and the ability of each individual to make a difference to the world.