Image by Simon Fowler Photography

Introducing our new Director

We’re pleased to introduce our new Director, Lorraine Cox. Lorraine has a background in cultural strategy and management, including leading Cultural Services at London Borough of Enfield, as Head of Cultural Strategy at Thamesmead for Peabody Housing, working in policy and planning for Arts Council England, and several roles curating and delivering creative programmes including major festivals, film commissions and public art. Over the last three years as Creative Estuary Assets & Place Manager, Lorraine has built strong relationships with our local authority partners and delivered on bringing underused buildings and spaces into creative use, principally in Chatham, Medway; High House Production Park, Thurrock; Southend; Basildon; and Gravesend, Gravesham. Lorraine’s knowledge of the Estuary and the needs of the cultural and creative industries sector will enable the core team to build quickly on the strong base achieved in phase one of our programme, making her perfectly placed to lead this exciting next phase of our work.

We’d like to introduce you to the core team here and set out the headlines of the phase two programme.

This is the core team now in place:

Jennifer Yard – Place Brand & Partnerships Lead. Jennifer has worked in senior marketing and brand positions across a variety of high profile organisations including the Royal Academy of the Arts, Natural History Museum, Visit Kent and Kew Gardens as well as working in phase 1 of Creative Estuary developing and delivering the brand and place marketing strategy.

Natalie Reuter – Project Officer. Natalie has a background in creative learning and engagement and worked at the Marlowe Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe before joining Creative Estuary to support our skills development initiative Re:Generation 2031.

Kerry Little – Communications Officer. Kerry has a background in communications within Arts and Humanities at the University of Kent. Having studied and worked at the University she has developed strong community ties.

We will begin recruitment shortly for a new Creative Assets & Place Manager, as well as a Senior Producer to complete the team.

We are working in ever closer partnership with Thea Behrman, Director of Estuary Festival, to support the growth and sustainability of the Festival across the Estuary. We are also working in partnership with Samantha Lahai-Taylor, recently appointed as Principal Project Officer – Placemaking and Wellbeing at Kent County Council, to ensure our work in Kent creates the best conditions for local creatives.

The University of Kent is proud to be the responsible authority for Creative Estuary in the next phase, with investment from Arts Council England’s Place Partnership Fund. Creative Estuary enjoys close partnership working with the Institute of Culture and Creative Industries at the University’s Medway campus, allowing collaboration to leverage the University’s significant place-based expertise and build partnerships with colleagues to shape regional creative industries policy.

Working alongside the recently announced Advisory Board, Lorraine and the team are focussed on building on the strong foundation created over the last 4 years. Phase two of Creative Estuary will demonstrate our continued commitment to the Estuary, the creative sector and our partners. The three strands of our work are:

Our Creative Assets and Place work will build on our research, pilot projects and the investment secured over the past 4 years, ensuring that our region has highly visible and sustainable new spaces for cultural production. Our pilot projects will deliver space for the creative sector; deliver training to increase skills, build capacity, knowledge and the networks to manage spaces effectively. We’ll support and deliver projects including hubs for performance and createch, testing makerspaces and supporting leadership on business models to encourage growth. Our place campaign will deliver regional and national impact as well as strengthening international links, learning from and with others. We will contribute to thought leadership on culture as a driver for social and economic change through events and roundtables with developers and investors

Made in the Estuary is a high-quality creative programme that enables and showcases cultural production in South Essex and North Kent. Building on our Creative Estuary co-commissions, we will respond to priority places, spaces and communities, leading to the creation of new work and stories for and about the Estuary. We’ll continue to target our investment towards Global Majority led organisations and artists, strengthening creative producers’ networks, and working on high streets, in town centres, industrial areas and green spaces. We will help communities to realise their full creative potential, contributing to healthy, thriving places.

The Knowledge Exchange Partnership will focus on the 6 local authorities designated as Levelling Up for Culture (LUFC) priority places in the Estuary: Thurrock, Basildon, Castle Point, Gravesham, Medway, Swale, and including Ebbsfleet Development Corporation. We will bring Officers together in a new Knowledge Exchange Partnership, to learn from each other and to share challenges and solutions. Working across Regeneration, Town Planning, Economic Development and Culture, the Knowledge Exchange Partnership network will create, share and capture best practice and innovation delivering pro-cultural policy and action in local places.

Lorraine Cox