Cultural Commissioning Programme: Who's who

Cultural Commissioning Programme page 

Advisory Group

Chair, Lord Bichard


Lord Michael Bichard joined the SCIE board as chair in April 2013. He founded, was founder director of the Institute for Government in 2008 and held the post until 2010. Michael was previously chief executive of Brent and Gloucestershire local authorities, chief executive of the government's Benefits Agency and Permanent Secretary of the Employment Department and, subsequently, the Department for Education and Employment. Among other roles, Lord Bichard is Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords, vice-chair of Shakespeare's Globe Trust, a board member of the River and Rowing Museum Foundation. In January 2004, he was appointed by the Home Office to chair the Soham/Bichard Inquiry. He was chair of the Legal Services Commission 2005-2008 and chair of the Design Council 2006-2011. Michael received a Knighthood in 1999 and was elevated to the House of Lords in 2010.

Vice Chair, Tim Joss

Tim JossTim Joss is a social and cultural entrepreneur. He is founder and Chief Executive of AESOP which devises and incubates arts enterprises with a social purpose. Its revolutionary approach is to start with challenges or unmet needs in society. It then scans all artistic options to create something of high artistic quality, suitable, evidence-based, cost-effective and sustainable. Tim co-founded the Arts Impact Fund which launched in March. It is the UK's first arts-specific social investment fund and was developed in partnership with the Cabinet Office, Arts Council England and several foundations. Previously Tim was Director of the Rayne Foundation and before that Artistic Director & Chief Executive of the Bath International Music Festival and Bath Literature Festival.

Alan Higgins

Alan HigginsAlan Higgins is Director of Public Health (DPH) with Oldham Council. In Oldham he is leading the development of council led public health with particular interests in cultural change and health, community development as a core public health tool and social enterprise as a public health innovation in addition to statutory responsibilities. Alan also leads on tuberculosis, housing and health, and healthy places for GM for the Greater Manchester Public Health Network. He is a member of the Public Health Advisory Committee with NICE is an advisor to the WAVE Trust focusing on healthy childhood development and is an advisor to the Cultural Commissioning programme.

Bev Rice

Bev Rice is Head of the Library and Information Service in Leeds. She sits on the Society of Chief Librarians executive and is representing them on the Cultural commissioning Board. Bev has recently taken over the lead of the Information Offer and has experience of working on regional cultural initiatives and local commissioning of arts groups.

Charlie Weinberg

Charlie WeinbergCharlie Weinberg has been Executive Director of Safe Ground since 2010. Safe Ground is actively involved in engaging new commissioners in innovative arts work that improves family and community relationships. It has worked successfully with Hampshire Probation Trust and the local Troubled Families Unit, developing a community adaptation of the Family Man programme in Southampton.

Charlotte Jones

Charlotte is Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Theatre Council.

David Cutler

David CutlerDavid Cutler is Director of the Baring Foundation, one of the UK's best known independent funders. Since 2010, the Foundation has focused its arts programme on participatory work with older people. Outside work David is heavily art-addicted.

Janet Maxwell

Janet joined Portsmouth City Council as Director of Public Health last year, having worked previously in Bristol and Berkshire. Before training in Public Health in the South West, Janet worked as a GP partner in Oxfordshire for fifteen years. 

Robin Simpson

Robin SimpsonSince September 2005 Robin Simpson has been Chief Executive of Voluntary Arts, which provides a universal voice for approximately 63,000 voluntary arts groups, across the UK and Ireland. He is a former Trustee of NCVO and has sat on advisory boards at the Office for Civil Society, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt is Head of Service Development for Culture, Sport & Communities at Suffolk County Council.

Reuben Kench

Reuben KenchReuben’s background in fine art and public art commissioning has ensured a concern for the aesthetic, and for the importance of creativity in all aspects of his work. After working for Northern Arts (now Arts Council England North East) with the responsibility for Local Authority Partnerships, he joined local government in 2002. In his current role at Stockton Borough Council he is responsible for Arts, Museums, Libraries, Sports & Leisure, Events and Adult Learning. As Chair of the North East England DCMS Officer Group and member of the North East Culture Partnership, he is involved in a significant amount of regional planning and collaboration, in addition to ‘greater north’ and national programmes.

Sharon Heal

Sharon HealSharon is the Director of the Museums Association, a professional membership organisation that campaigns to promote the value of museums to society. She was formerly the Head of Publications and Events at the MA, and the editor of Museums Journal, the association’s monthly news and features magazine. She was also responsible for programming and managing the MA’s annual conference. Sharon’s background is in journalism, event creation and policy. She has lectured in journalism, the history of museums and museum ethics and has judged prizes and awards including the Clore Award for Museum Learning. She contributed a chapter to Museums and Public Value (Carol A Scott, Ashgate) and regularly comments on museums and cultural policy in the UK.

Toby Lowe

Toby Lowe

Toby Lowe is Senior Research Associate for Newcastle University Business School, exploring social sector practice improvement and systems change. Previously, he was Chief Executive of Helix Arts, which has worked for 30 years at the point at which arts and social policy meet. Toby is also a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University Business School, undertaking research on Outcomes-Based Performance Management. Previously, Toby has worked for Arts Council England and the Social Exclusion Unit.

Zoe Williams

Zoe is team leader in culture and regeneration for Manchester City Council.


Jessica Harris, Cultural Commissioning Programme Project Manager, NCVO  

Jessica HarrisJessica has commissioned and managed cultural programmes across arts, museums and libraries, and has also led on cultural policy during her career. She has worked in the independent arts sector, in local government and for national bodies, including MLA and Arts Council England. She is employed by NCVO to manage the Cultural Commissioning Programme.

Julia Slay, Senior Researcher and Social Policy Programme Coordinator, Nef

cc-julia-slayJulia Slay has worked at NEF since 2009. She is currently leading a project working with three local authorities on implementing outcomes focussed commissioning and co-production, two projects looking at the impact of the cuts and alternative strategies to the austerity, a project researching innovation within local government in response to the cuts. She will shortly be publishing a practical guide to commissioning for outcomes and co-production. 

Lucie Stephens, Head of Co-production, Nef

Lucie StephensLucie Stephens is the Head of Co-production in the Social Policy team at nef (the new economics foundation). Over the last six years Lucie has worked closely with commissioners in a range of services to support them to implement outcomes based commissioning approaches and embed co-production.

Sally Bagwell, Senior Consultant, NPC

Sally BagwellSally Bagwell is a consultant at NPC, and is leading the research phase of the Cultural Commissioning Programme. At NPC, Sally's work supports charities, funders and commissioners to address the challenges they face in their work, and she authored Money for Good UK, NPC's research into the motivations of donors.


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