Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch announces new Creative Directors

After an extensive recruitment process, where over a third of applicants identified as deaf, disabled or neurodivergent, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is today excited to be announcing its new Creative Directors.

From Monday 3 July 2023, Alex Thorpe (he/him) joins as Creative Director (full time), and Kate Lovell (she/her) and Aisling Gallagher (they/them) both join as Creative Director (job share). All three are committed to relentlessly addressing underrepresentation in the people QTH works with and serves.

Aisling, Kate and Alex will work together as part of a new senior leadership team, across programming, creative producing, partnership building and in areas of expertise including creative responses to co-creation, local narratives, environmental responsibility, talent, access and digital.

Alex is a theatre director from Cumbria, who has worked extensively at the RSC, as well as with Open Door, the National Youth Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. Alex joins from the London Theatre team at Arts Council England.

Aisling is a disabled Irish director, artist and creative access practitioner. Aisling worked as Agent for Change at Theatre Royal Stratford East, and recently directed for Turtle Key Arts at Lyric Hammersmith.

Kate is a working class disabled and neurodivergent artist-activist. She is a writer, director, dramaturg and access consultant. Kate has recently been Associate Artist at Graeae Theatre and QTH, and directed at the Almeida and for Separate Doors.

Alex said: ‘I have admired as an audience member and from afar the positive change that has taken place under the current leadership, and I cannot wait to build on that momentum, creating stories with and for audiences of South Essex, Outer East London and beyond.

QTH is synonymous with pioneering local, national and international creative and cultural opportunities: always retaining a local, national and international perspective. I am inspired by QTH’s deep commitment to South Essex and Outer East London. I want to guarantee our audiences access to diverse stories and internationally renowned artists that delight, entertain, and help us better understand our vibrant world.’

Kate and Aisling said: ‘We are both socially-engaged neurodivergent and disabled artists with a desire to elevate unheard voices, and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is a venue dedicated to championing lesser heard voices; joining the theatre as Creative Directors feels like a wonderful match in ambition and passion.

We are thrilled to be able to further the theatre’s dedication to the local community and to serving underrepresented groups in both the stories we tell and the people we welcome through the doors.

We are both artist-activists and have spent years change-making in the arts to improve accessibility for people from all backgrounds to be creatives and for audiences to come and be part of the art. We will bring this expertise and commitment to Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, building upon the fierce dedication to opening up both theatre as an artform and the building as a community space to as many people as possible.’

QTH is also announcing today that Christine Santa-Ana (she/her) is joining the senior leadership team as Project Director for Havering Changing, job sharing the role with existing Project Director James Jackson (he/him). Christine specialises in community engaged arts programmes that focus on working closely with community members in shared decision making and co-creation.

Completing the senior leadership team, James Watson (he/him), previously Head of Learning and Participation at QTH, will step into a newly created role as Director of Communities. The work of the new Communities team led by James will see QTH widening its reach into communities as well as focussing on specific large scale programmes of work that will support our engagement with underserved and underrepresented communities across Outer East London and South Essex.

Mathew Russell, Executive Director says: ‘We’re very excited to be welcoming Aisling, Alex, Christine and Kate to join our new senior leadership team, working alongside our current senior management colleagues. Often from under represented backgrounds, this new team of thinkers will focus on effectively enabling organisational aims and the strategic change, innovation, fundraising and development needed to respond to the opportunities and challenges ahead.’

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