Creative Estuary Unveils Dynamic New Advisory Board

Creative Estuary, an innovative initiative focused on accelerating the cultural impact of the Thames Estuary, is delighted to announce the appointment of its new Advisory Board. Following a comprehensive and inclusive search process, the Board comprises a diverse group of individuals who bring a wealth of expertise and experience from various sectors, including creative industries, local government, private sector, and developers.

At Creative Estuary, diversity is a core value, and we are proud that our Board reflects this commitment. The success and impact we achieved during phase 1 of Creative Estuary demonstrated that people from all backgrounds and experiences can identify with our work. We firmly believe in building an inclusive future for the creative and cultural economy.

The newly appointed Advisory Board will be co-chaired by Juliet Can and Andrew Marcus. Juliet said, “A vision where cultural impact is at the core of shaping, enriching, and strengthening communities is very much aligned with my values and work to date. Creative Estuary’s vision is ambitious, and this is what we need in order to build infrastructure that leaves a legacy for communities and the future creative and cultural economy. I look forward to supporting the team on that journey.”

Andrew, who grew up in Southend-on-Sea, shared his personal connection to the Estuary and his eagerness to support Creative Estuary’s future endeavours. He said, “The Estuary is a uniquely inspiring place and an area I am passionate about. It’s a privilege to join the team and support Creative Estuary’s continued achievements building on its impressive track record.”

Creative Estuary is hosted by the Institute of Culture and Creative Industries (iCCi) at the University of Kent. Catherine Richardson, Director of iCCi, expressed her delight at the appointment of such a high-calibre Board, citing it as a testament to the remarkable achievements of Creative Estuary so far. She added, “I look forward to working with Juliet, Andrew, and the rest of the Board on Creative Estuary’s exciting and ambitious future.”

The Board will work closely with the Creative Estuary team, providing strategic guidance, advocating for the programme, identifying opportunities, and exploring the long-term legacy of their work.

The newly formed Advisory Board is composed of the following individuals:

Juliet Can (co-chair)
Director, Stour Trust

Juliet Can is founder and Director of Stour Trust, a social enterprise developing new approaches to sustaining art, cultural and community infrastructure. She sits on the Board of ACME a provider of affordable studios for artists, London Community Land Trust who deliver affordable housing and Ethical Property Company a workspace provider for changemakers. She also sits on the Create Panel of Foundation for Future London. Juliet grew up in East London and is committed to social justice. She began her career as a volunteer community leader with Citizens UK, supporting the launch of the London Living Wage Campaign. She then moved on to develop cross-sector partnerships at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, Germany. She later joined Clear Thinking Consultancy working with social impact organisations to support their financial sustainability and governance. She had been recognised as a BMW Foundation World Responsible Leader.

Andrew Marcus (co-chair)

Andrew Marcus is a consultant, coach and facilitator. He was previously Chief Communications and Digital Officer at the Museum of London leading marketing, PR, brand and digital teams, as well as the marketing and PR team for the Culture Mile placemaking partnership. Prior to the Museum of London, Andrew worked at the Science Museum and Habitat as well as two global communications consultancies. He is a trustee of creative skills charity A New Direction and Arabic arts festival Shubbak, and previously Theatre Centre. In 2012, Andrew was named as one of PR Week magazine’s young industry leaders. He is a Clore Cultural Leadership Fellow, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. For most of his life Andrew has lived close to the Thames, growing up in Southend-on-Sea and now living in East London.

Mel Alcock
Chair, Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries / Chair, British Board of Film Classification

Mel Alcock is an experienced Chair & Executive Director drawing upon experience as a Senior Executive garnered at Fremantle, Disney, Sky, i-Crossing, and Curzon. Currently Chair of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), Chair of the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries (iCCi), Founding Mentor at the VC Ascension Ventures and Owner of the Complete Circle Consultancy Ltd. Ex NED of Arts Alliance Media Ltd, Ex Chair of the Rio Dalston and Ex Chair of Cement Fields. Management experience ranges from large multi-territory, matrix-based companies, as well as second-stage, high-growth companies. Managed P&Ls from £20m to £250m. Most recently completed the 4 year re-build of Curzon, doubling revenues and margins within 18 months. Curzon was later sold to The Cohen Media Group in Dec 2019. He managed the sale of digital agency i-Crossing to Goldman Sachs and the sale of Arts Alliance Media, a global SaaS company, to the Chinese entity Luxin Rio in Nov 2017. Strong on IP monetisation, governance, shareholder management, digital, customer interfaces, corporate structures and staff motivation.

Prof. Samer Bagaeen
Technical Director, Arcadis / Professor, University of Kent

Samer Bagaeen is a Technical Director in Town Planning and Stakeholder Capability in the Environmental Planning team at Arcadis and Professor of Planning & Resilient Systems at the University of Kent in the School of Architecture and Planning. He was a member of the Creative Estuary Delivery Group 2020-2023. Samer is an elected Trustee of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and a Non-Executive Board Member on the South East (England) Regional Board at the RICS. Samer is a Fellow of the RSA and member of the Advisory Board for the BAME Planners Network. He is a Design Council Expert (Specialist, Resilience) and a member of the Kent Housing and Development Group. He was first elected as a Councillor in Brighton and Hove in 2019.

Maz Bah

Maz Bah is the producer of The Wave Southend, a local mental health and wellbeing podcast. He is passionate about film/TV production – especially animated TV production due to his background in illustration and animation. As a young person finding their footing in the media industries, he is passionate about supporting his peers into their dream roles as well as changing the way the industry views and engages with entry level talent. Being a Creative Estuary alum, the initiative is deeply important to Maz as he’s benefited from it greatly. He hopes to contribute to bringing the initiative to more young people on the cusp of discovery like himself.

Georgia Bird
Senior Consultant – Social Value, Savills Earth

Georgia Bird is a Senior Consultant within Social Value team at Savills Earth. Georgia has 3 years’ experience in the field of social value, working predominately within the private sector and some experience within the voluntary sector. Georgia’s area of expertise lies within cultural and community partnerships, acting as a facilitator between the private, public and third sector. Georgia’s time spent in the industry so far has highlighted the importance of placing people and culture at the heart of development projects, to ensure the creation of positive, tangible outcomes for local communities.

Andy Hearne
Director of Place Curation, The Crown Estate

Andy Hearne is currently the Director of Place Curation at The Crown Estate, and has been with the business for 5 years. Before being promoted to his current role, Andy was the Senior Commercial Operations Manager across the London & Regional Portfolio’s. Prior to this Andy has enjoyed a diverse career background, starting with a 7-year term in the military, where he served in the Yorkshire Regiment from the age of 16 as an Infantry soldier, leaving the Army in 2010 as an Infantry Section Commander. Over the last 14 years, Andy has developed a new career path within the Land and Property industry, where he has worked for multiple companies across the UK, including McArthurglen and Landsec, specialising in Operations Management, Strategy and Place Curation. Andy has worked on major transformation projects within cities, both in London and in the wider Regions of the UK, and has a passion for seeing large scale transformation across our cities landscapes, that enable us to combat systemic issues including Climate change, the Energy crisis and Social equality, and allows for us to provide healthier, greener, safer and more socially inclusive places for future generations.

Richard Morsley
Chief Executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

Richard Morsley is Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and has worked at the Historic Dockyard since September 2019. Having grown up in Medway, Richard is incredibly proud to lead such a remarkable team, with responsibility for preserving this unique place for future generations and enabling people to learn about its fascinating 400-year history and the role of the Royal Navy in Chatham. Prior to joining the Historic Dockyard, Richard was Director at Betteshanger Park and Deputy Director at Turner Contemporary. He is also a Director of Visit Kent, Chair of Medway Tourism Association and a member of the Medway Place Board.

Sara O'Donnell
Head of Arts and Culture, Wandsworth Council

Sara is Head of Arts and Culture at Wandsworth Council, where she leads on ensuring that all residents can participate in creative engagements and related employment opportunities. She is particularly passionate about ensuring that everyone, but especially young people, have access to cultural, heritage and creativity opportunities, enabling them to broaden their horizons and aspirations, supporting their health and wellbeing as well as nurture their creative talents. Until joining local government she never realised how impactful and fulfilling working on planning policy could be! Outside work, she has two kids, who she is trying to inculcate with her love of history (she worked in the museum sector before joining local government), and she also enjoys reading and watching sci-fi and fantasy books/films.

Dani Osoba
Community Artist and Musician

Dani Osoba is a community artist and musician, producing workshops for young people, and performing and composing from her home in Swale. She loves anything creative, also exploring work in theatre and multidisciplinary art. Most of her projects focus on themes of belonging and home, and more recently, building community and pride in the local area. As a Creative Estuary alumni, Dani has been witness to the benefit of the programme on the area, and through this has been empowered to start her freelance career. She wishes to be part of continuing and advancing this work to further celebrate the history and culture of the Estuary.

Lu Williams

Lu Williams (b.1993, Essex) is an artist producing sculpture, print, zines, drawing, writing, video, events and workshops through research, community engagement, collecting and collaboration. They make work around the themes of place and memory; community and collaboration; collecting; class and upbringing; accessibility; and platforming and uplifting marginalised voices- through the lens of queerness, neurodivergence and working classness. They are interested in class and taste, queerness, ecology, systems, paraphernalia and the notion of the ‘disposable’; elevating everyday off cuts, often ephemeral and nostalgic, into the valued but functional ‘art object’. In 2015 they created Grrrl Zine Fair, a place for self-publishing and DIY art, music and culture surrounding feminist publishing. In 2017 the Grrrl Zine Library was born and hosted 600+ queer feminist zines, housed at The Old Waterworks. In 2020 they co-founded Dog Ear, dog toy sculptures and accompanying publications produced by artists, with artist Emma Edmondson. Williams is currently based in Leigh-on-sea, working from The Old Waterworks artist studios, Southend-on-sea and is on the Southend Community Investment Board.