So, after twelve years and two months it’s with a heavy heart I say goodbye to Junction Arts. I have so many special memories from work we’ve delivered with communities. The projects have been diverse in scale but all of equal value and all with creativity and kindness at their heart. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to lead this amazing community arts charity over this past decade and on reflection I’ve tried to summarise below what I’ve learned during my time:

Self-Awareness is Key: Truly understanding who you are as a charity and how you change lives is fundamental to success. Developing your Theory of Change collectively as a governing body and staff team will enable a level of understanding across the organisation that is incredibly powerful.

You need a Vision: Most participatory arts charities are so busy delivering that they haven’t got the time to think about their vision. But this is crucial. Having a vision, knowing where you are going, setting a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) 15 years in the future will give the whole organisation a purpose, something to unite behind and an ambition for a successful future.


Community Arts Changes Lives: We all know this but I’ve spent the past twelve years having to argue our case time and time again (and its 2023). Let’s just take this as a given!

Be Generous: It’s a bit of a cliché but true leadership is about giving others the space to shine. I always felt my job was to support and develop the team, giving them the tools to progress. This is how I know that Junction Arts will continue to do amazing things because my greatest legacy is the team I leave behind.

Dig Where You Stand: This is a philosophy I’ve championed in the office to describe the place-based work that we deliver. It’s a way of describing the richness of shared history and identity which is right beneath our feet. Understanding our shared heritage helps us to understand our own place in the world and this is what community arts does so well. It’s all there if we dig.

People not Bricks: A plea to the funders. Fund revenue projects. Too much money goes into bricks and infrastructure with a ‘if we build it, they will come’ mentality. The weakness of this approach was exemplified during the lockdowns of 2020. Please assign more funding to the revenue projects and put the investment into people and ideas.


Tapton Lock Festival  


It’s an Ecology: Another plea to funders. The arts and cultural sectors are an ecology. We are all different shapes and sizes and we all feed each other and need each other to create a diverse, vibrant and successful ecosystem. Therefore, fund us in ways that encourages diversity, that encourages the small and the large and the in-between, that encourages cross-collaboration on an ‘equal footing’! Let’s move away from a ‘one size fits all approach’ and old opinions of power and agency and ‘excellence’.

The team is your biggest asset: This goes without saying. We are not selling products, we are facilitating experiences, and your team have the power to make these experiences life changing so invest in them!

Co-Creation is hard work: A true authentic co-creation process where the power or ‘agency’ is shared between everyone involved takes time and patience. Ensuring this is authentic and not fabricated requires an understanding of the time taken to develop relationships and nurture creativity.

Have Fun and celebrate the successes! 

I’ll really miss Junction Arts and all the people I’ve met and worked with over the past twelve years but I know they’ll keep doing amazing things and I look forward to seeing what happens next. I’ll also miss the wider sector and the relationships I’ve developed with other arts organisations. It truly has been a pleasure to be a part of. Dig Where You Stand!