Meet the Board
St George’s Bristol is an independent charity, and as such, it is governed by a group of people who offer their time and expertise voluntarily. Our Trustees are selected through an open recruitment process and serve a term of 3 years, which can be extended once.
Doug is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Open Up Music, creating new opportunities for young disabled musicians through accessible orchestras and instruments. Starting out as a Cathedral chorister before an early career in experimental rock, from 2000 Doug increasingly focussed on inclusive music-making, with extensive experience as a music leader, arts manager and consultant. Since 2014, Open Up Music’s award-winning programmes have had a hugely positive impact for young disabled musicians.
My top St. George’s memories so far include a sublime Viola da Gamba performance by Jordi Savall in 2013, singing the Rachmaninov Vespers with City of Bristol choir in 2015, and conducting the National Open Youth Orchestra’s first Bristol concert in 2022.
Mark Bowers has over 15 years’ experience in the music industry. Starting off as a drummer and DJ, Mark then moved to working behind the stage in artist management, touring and promotions. Mark spent seven years as a national promoter for Metropolis Music and has been privileged to work with some of the world’s very best acts from Oasis to Emeli Sande to Netsky.
Recognising his real passion lies in artist development, Mark has been working at BIMM Bristol heading up artist development and careers for the last six years. He has also launched a new management & PR company under the Crosstown group, developing and signing incredible new artists.
I have promoted many shows at St Georges in the past and always loved taking artists into such an incredible venue. I look forward to supporting them more and being a part of this special place.
Kat Branch is Head of Centre for Music at UWE Bristol making music facilities, professionally-led groups, teaching and events available to everyone at the university, supporting university strategies on wellbeing, mental health, equity, practice-led learning and cultural exchange whilst helping students and staff towards their musical goals. Focused on innovative applications of music education with a background in creating performing arts programmes for secure environments, Kat is also interested in equitable access to the arts and how to increase engagement with music from disenfranchised groups. Kat is an educator at heart and so she still lectures and leads a choir focused on singing for wellbeing. Kat’s first instrument is French horn but she is most at home at a piano or singing, ideally in a big group.
I have enjoyed so many special moments at St George’s from watching our student orchestra proudly perform their favourite music to hearing voices from across the city’s community choirs come together to celebrate the power of singing at the Singing City day. But I’ll never forget a stunning concert from Chineke! Orchestra which premiered a breathtaking composition commemorating the Bristol Bus Boycott. The atmosphere was electric and many people including me were moved to tears as Paul Stephenson himself was in attendance, to thunderous applause from the packed concert hall.
Christian Cull is Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Bristol, with an office in the same street as St George’s. Having spent most of his time at the university being obliged to work through a screen, he relishes the atmospheric beauty of the concert hall, and enjoys the soup and toasties from the café bar. Christian has fully embraced the transferability of communications and marketing skills in a career that has included directorate roles at Waitrose and Sky, Vodafone and TUI, among others. Sadly, his musical skills extend no further than rudimentary violin and classical guitar at school, and he kindly declines to sing if ever asked.
St George’s represents the very best of Bristol – its true, inclusive spirit. Its vision for creative exchange should be seen by everyone; its welcoming music should ring out far beyond the seven hills of Bristol to the world at large.
Dr Anna Farthing
Anna is a creative producer and cultural consultant. She is currently Director of Civic and Cultural Engagement at Arts University Bournemouth with responsibility for the library, museum, gallery, and theatre, together with research and innovation. She was previously Arts Programme Director for University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, where she founded the hospital arts programme, and the Weston Arts and Health Festival. Having begun her career as a theatre and opera director, she continues to support the development of young artists and new work.
St Georges has always been my favourite acoustic venue in Bristol. Memorable moments are too numerous to mention, but include various eclectic silent movie accompaniments, my own children appearing in choirs and orchestras, and renditions of ‘special occasion songs’ that I have written with David Ogden. ‘Stand Up For Good Food’ was sung as part of the BBC Food and Farming Awards and ‘The Bristol Song’ has been sung for several royal visits. I love the eclecticism of this place, and the welcome it offers to everyone.
Dr Anna Farthing
Ben Heald (Chair)
Ben has been Chair of the Trustees since April 2018 and a Trustee since 2013. He studied psychology at Bristol University, then trained as an accountant with KPMG before returning to the city in 1996 to found digital media company Sift, which he now also chairs. He’s an amateur pianist and hopes one day to get back to playing the violin in an orchestra.
My most memorable St George’s experience was playing Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev from memory at the Musical Munros fundraising event for the St George’s capital development appeal in 2015. The first and only time I’ve ever had a standing ovation for anything I’ve done publicly!
Stephanie is a PhD candidate at UWE Bristol, working in partnership with Colgate-Palmolive. In 2017, Stephanie co-founded SEPH Group, a creative management brand focused on nurturing creative talent across sectors including music, film, design and photography. She is also a creative producer, photographer, and curator who has worked with creative institutions in Nigeria and within the UK. Some of these exhibitions have been featured on the BBC, ITV, the Voice, Tafari Art Gallery, the Arnolfini, and across the streets of Bristol city.
Whilst I have yet to see a major performance in the hall at St George’s, my most memorable experience so far was watching a live performance this summer on the roof of the building with some amazing artists. Breath-taking views, incredible music and positive vibes.
Paul Kenyon (Deputy Chair)
Paul is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has just retired from a 37-year business career, latterly as Group CFO at companies spanning the frozen food, footwear and veterinary services sectors. Paul has a varied performing background having sung in a number of choirs, performed on stage in everything from musicals to Grand Opera taking in Gilbert & Sullivan along the way as well as playing the trumpet in concert bands, dance bands, orchestras and brass ensembles.
My earliest memory of St George’s is taking our children to the Christmas concert when they could barely see over the back of the chair in front. Most memorable performance (aside from my daughter’s school concert!) would be the Tallis Scholars recent performance of works by both John Taverners. And I’m really looking forward to being able to attend the lunchtime concerts of rising young artists once I’m retired.
Chris has been part of the business community in Bristol for nearly 40 years, over which time he has built an expansive network of professional contacts and friends. He has been involved in fundraising for St George’s for over 10 years, with a particular focus on the successful completion the new building in 2018. Chris’s professional specialism is in insurance, where he has owned or run a number of businesses in the Bristol area over three decades. Chris has a classical singing background, from head chorister of St Albans Cathedral to singing in various choirs and musical theatre clubs.
My earliest memory of St George’s is from the stage as part of Bath Camarata, a truly brilliant group of choristers who still regularly perform at St George’s. I did a number of recordings at St George’s many years ago too and so I have lots of great memories of this beautiful acoustic hall as both a performer and a visitor.
Robert has lived and worked in Bristol since 1989. He set up an architectural practice with his wife Jenny Goss in 1991 – which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. In his professional life, Robert has found new uses for historic or landmark buildings in or around the city, mixing the new with the old on projects ranging from the Robinson Building in Bedminster to Clevedon Pier. As a Trustee, Robert has been involved in the new building at St Georges, a project that enhances the existing hall and secures its place in the future cultural fabric of the city. Frank Lloyd Wright said “architecture is frozen music,” and Robert is devoted to both arts.
My earliest recollection of St George’s is of Sunday afternoon concerts for children in the 1990s, which I took my son to and ignited his love of music. There is nothing finer than the enthusiasm of the artist, and the beauty of the music, lighting the flame in a newer generation. This is what St George’s is all about. And as an architect I just love the building.
Olumide Osinoiki is a freelance photographer, director, singer/songwriter and workshop facilitator. Olu is based in Bristol and represented by Rising Arts Agency & Babbasa fulfilling a broad spectrum of commissions for a diverse set of clients. Some of Olu’s notable clientele include the National Trust, the Guardian, the BBC and the Martin Parr Foundation. He has also spent time working within award-winning organisations like Plimsoll Productions and the Royal West of England Academy. Most recently Olu’s been working as a researcher at True to Nature for the second series of a Sky Kids show.
Madeline is an events professional with a background in arts festivals and trade publishing. She has been Head of Events and Stakeholder Engagement at UWE Bristol since January 2022. She started her career within the PR teams at Random House, moving to London following a postgrad in publishing at Plymouth University. Since moving back to Bristol at the end of 2013, she undertook various freelance PR projects before becoming part of the programming team at Cheltenham Literature Festival and then moving on to become Head of Literature Programming at Bath Festivals. She believes strongly in the shared experience of audiences coming together for live events and in the importance of community engagement projects within organisations, especially those related to education and the arts.
My first experience of St George’s was on a book tour many years ago and I loved it. Since moving back to Bristol I’ve been to a number of events, more recently for the MiniBeats sessions with my young girls. It’s such a special venue within the city and I’m so honoured to join as a Trustee.