Community Manager
29 Oct, 2021
CENTRE:STAGE Ideas Lab — Reinventing Chelmsford’s City Centre

Imagine the scene….

…30 of the most curious and generous individuals you can imagine – from artists to architects, planners to creative producers – gathered together for two ‘nothing’s off the list, nothing’s impossible’ days of plotting and conspiring, eating and drinking, thinking and doing. All in the name of re-inventing Chelmsford’s city centre… of inventing new events that could bring us together, devising new ways of making our city centre feel safe, imagining creative ways we could unite the urban and the natural, and how – beyond pop up shops (love them as we do) – we might unlock new space for creative use.

Well that’s pretty much the plan for our CENTRE:STAGE ideas lab that we’ve teamed up with the Ignite Partnership to produce on 1st and 3rd December. CENTRE:STAGE will bring together 30 leading thinkers and doers to work together, sharing and shaping game changing ideas about how we can create a city centre where all Chelmsfordians can feel safe, inspired, connected and at home. In no way a talking shop, this is all about action!

Asking some big questions… and coming up with some game changing answers

We think. We do. We learn. We share. Those are the guiding principles of the hub, and the approach that underpins CENTRE:STAGE . Inherently curious about the world around us, and by nature collaborative, sharing what we know and helping people connect with each other is second nature to us. It’s just how we roll. Like all of the work we’re involved in making, CENTRE:STAGE has at its heart a central question, something we want to understand more about. In this instance, that’s about exploring how arts and culture can catalyse a reinvention of Chelmsford’s city centre, something which it’s great to see Chelmsford’s City Council investing in, given that having politicians on board can only help!

Over the last few months, it’s been great to have been part of some of the discussions about where change most needs to happen in Chelmsford, and I’m so excited to be running a lab designed to kickstart some of that change! Here are the 4 provocations we’re going to be responding to at CENTRE:STAGE

  • How can we work together to create one big something that celebrates Chelmsford’s distinctive character and has participation at its heart?
  • How can we use a creative approach to make the city centre feel welcoming and safe for all?
  • How can we use arts and culture to bring more of the natural world into the city centre?
  • Moving beyond pop up shops, how can we unlock space in the city centre for creative and cultural use in the short term?

Atomic collision thinking

Over the years one of the things I’ve realised to be an absolute truth is that when you bring together people with different ‘normals’ and starting points, you get ‘atomic collisions’; thinking that just wouldn’t have come about in other circumstance, and ideas that wouldn’t otherwise have seen the light of day. Everyone involved leaves a little bit changed by the experience, the seeds are sown for new collaborations and stuff gets done. And that’s exciting!

And that’s what I find so exciting about the Ignite Partnership. That it does just that; brings together thinkers and doers from across many different sectors, who are interested in how arts and culture can make a difference to their City, and in making that happen.

And that’s also what CENTRE:STAGE is all about…atomic collisions…bringing together all manner of people who care about Chelmsford’s future, and are curious about this central question about the city centre. CENTRE:STAGE borrows from hack culture, and over the course of our time together, we’ll share our inspirations and pool our ideas, and get down to some serious playing, making, breaking and putting back together again.

By close of play on Friday evening we hope to have prototyped 5 or 6 new potential ‘game changers’, to have consumed a good deal of good coffee, food and cake (there’s always cake!) … and to have seeded some relationships that will sustain for decades to come! Oh, and of course, that’s just the start, because there’s also the opportunity to pitch for follow up seed funding and get some other practical support too. A-maz-ing!

Having read this, it perhaps won’t surprise you that my favourite question is ‘what if’, and that the phrase I most overuse is ‘that’s a good idea’. Small wonder I can’t wait to get started!

This is the first in a series of blogs we’re planning about CENTRE:STAGE . Watch this space for details of who’s taking part and more details about those provocations…





Who’s is coming to the lab? 

We’re adding new attendees everyday. Check back to see who is added to the list!

Naomi Briffett
Site Director at Patch Chelmsford. 

Patch is a new work club and cultural venue for the people of Chelmsford. We’re home to a dynamic community of freelancers, organisations and businesses. Our family of memberships and spaces reflect different working rhythms; communal lounges, coworking studios, dedicated desks and private offices. Patch Academy is a cultural venue for workshops, talks and events. We host local activities and a growing public programme of social and cultural events.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Bath will always be my favourite city – I called it home for four years whilst at university. It’s architecture and Christmas market are absolute winners in my eyes!

Very excited to be a part of the first Ignite Ideas hub to be able to meet some amazing local businesses and individuals and be a part of shaping the creative direction of Chelmsford’s city centre!


Cllr Rose Moore
Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Hello! I’m a passionate environmentalist and political Newbie, first elected as a city councillor in May 2019 (Chelmer Village & Beaulieu Park ward), currently a member of the Waterways Working Group and Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford. In my Cabinet role I help shape policy that reflects the core values of liberal democracy and delivers our local objectives – a Greener, Fairer, Better-Connected Chelmsford. I was proud to second the Motion to Declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency in July 2019, which means Climate Action and Biodiversity Gain is now woven into every area of the City Council’s work.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! New York

I’m excited to see how Ignite’s creative talents integrate and celebrate WILDNESS – “Bringing Nature In” – from bold, immersive sweeps (power, protest, rage) to subtle weaves of sound, scent, spoken word, whispers, light (“tread gently…”).


Tony Morrison
Creative Director, Chelmsford Arts and Cultural Festival, Creative Producer.

I have been involved in the creative industries for over 25 years setting up various initiatives across the county & the UK. Alongside working predominantly in the music industry I managed arts projects for Essex County Council for several years before going on to set up the Essex Music Development Agency. I am co-founder / Creative Director of Chelmsford Festival and co-director of the Hermit CIC based in Brentwood.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Manchester

I am excited that the Ideas Lab will give me an opportunity to help make a difference and create a legacy.


Kevin Miller
Chelmsford Civic Society and Ignite Cultural Partner

My career has involved building, growing, and running commercial and mutual organisations, while also supporting local charities and community groups, particularly around strategy. Actively involved with the Ideas Hub Chelmsford and Chelmsford Civic Society, who together work to improve the wellbeing of local residents through local creativity and heritage.  My current focus is on how to make the work of the Ideas Hub sustainable, understanding the support that grass root individuals and groups in our city need to help them survive and thrive, and helping to put it in place. I’m also keen to help build effective communication and partnerships where we learn how to work together through shared design and delivery.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Brighton – where culture, community and creativity are flourishing side by side and the city always feels alive

I’m excited to see our ideas for the city become a reality, our city become more interesting and vibrant, and for us to build effective partnerships through shared design and delivery. Together we are greater than the sum of the parts and we have an opportunity to enable and empower grass root individuals and groups to play their role in delivery of the strategy. I feel a sense of personal responsibility to listen and respond to the needs of our local communities so we provide them with the support/ enablers they need to play their part in making our city more alive.


Rebecca Hughes
Executive Director, Culture Chelmsford

With a background in regional journalism, PR and marketing for the public, private and charity sectors, she is developing the Trust’s charitable objectives in Chelmsford and launching its fundraising. Bec is also a voluntary Director of One Chelmsford, the city’s Business Improvement District. She is an avid reader, a budding nature writer and loves water-based activities, mainly on/in the River Blackwater.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! – Tough question! Istanbul.

Looking forward to it!


Clare Martin
Marketing and Development Manager, Wilderness Foundation

With over 20 years design and marketing experience in the creative sector, Clare has worked on a broad range of creative projects, managing teams for large publishing, print and design agencies. Before joining Wilderness Foundation as Marketing and Development Manager, she had previously volunteered for the charity as a TurnAround youth mentor as well as helping out on various Wilderness marketing projects and campaigns.

Clare gained her degree in Professional Media from the University of Gloucestershire and went on to work in the creative sector, successfully managing projects for global brands including corporate real estate, law and retail companies. Her commitment to the Foundation and her belief in what it represents made her change direction and leave the creative world to work for the charity full time.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Amsterdam or Rome (both bursting with art and culture!)

I’m excited to be a part of the first Ignite Ideas Lab as I have lived in Chelmsford my whole life and feel its important to help share ideas on how we can reinvent the city to keep it up to date, whilst improving the amount of culture and green spaces made accessible for the local community to enjoy. The city deserves our attention.


Lora Aziz

At present my work is grounded in my full time work as an artist and visual anthropologist, using plant matter and inherited stories as materials I am researching / reviving lores of the land. I offer experiences for people to delve into, be inspired by and question how we perceive ourselves within the natural world today.

I worked for the Arts and Culture team at Chelmsford City Council for just under 3 years, in which I built a personal link to the city and the creative network. In my role I encouraged space for reflection in between projects and programming. I produced creative and story-led evaluation reports for micro, local partnerships, and countywide funded initiatives supporting the delivery of Chelmsford’s Cultural Vision across the city.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Toulouse, France

Chelmsford is an inspiring place in my own career trajectory as an artist and freelancer, to be a part of the lab feels like a positive place for exchange. I will be able to give my input, the things we often say on the side about better ways to  reimagine, redesign and action how we live finally has a space and place to be collectively processed… and I will have the chance to sit in a room with a fantastic bunch of interdisciplinary creatives to bounce off of for the day and expand my own network.


Amie Lister
Founder of Parlour

A dining experience specialising in traditional Indian food, which was born out of Amie’s love for the kitchen and embodies the spirit of her Indian heritage.

Founded during lockdown while on furlough from the music industry and inspired by food from her Grandad’s Anglo-Indian family – originating from North India.

With a focus on bringing people together through sharing food, as she has grown up doing, Amie started a takeaway service during lockdown that has now spanned to pop-ups around Essex, private chef experiences & thali supper clubs as well as her own DIY spice kits with a vision for expanding into immersive events in the future.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Lisbon/Bordeaux both beautiful cities, incredible food & wine – can’t choose..

Looking forward to being part of the Ignite Ideas Lab because I believe Chelmsford has so much potential and with the right group of people and ideas, changes could be made to benefit those living within the city, and encourage others to visit.


Neil Jordan
Senior Town Planner – Chelmsford City Council

I fulfil a Development Management role on major and strategic growth projects in the city centre and across Chelmsford.  Having studied Environmental Planning at Anglia Ruskin University and qualified with a BSC (Hons) degree I have spent the last 20 years working across a diverse range of planning projects and disciplines.  At the core of my work is a background in urban design, which is a skill refined over many years and applied on every project.  Some of the central projects I have worked on include Bond Street shopping area, Exchange Square, Tindal Square (a key public realm project set to re-invigorate the top end of the High Street from next year) and more recently the Chelmer Waterside regeneration which will deliver over 1000 new homes in the city centre and transform the waterside environment.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! New York City

I’m excited because hearing new ideas and perspectives can help shape great things in my line of work


Sally Medd
Volunteering Centre Manager, Chelmsford Centre Supporting Voluntary Action

I am the Volunteer Centre Manager for Chelmsford CVS, an independent support and development organisation set up to champion, support and strengthen local charities and volunteer-involving organisations. We work closely with over 300 diverse Third Sector groups and believe that voluntary and community action is essential for vibrant and caring local communities.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Berlin

I’m excited to be here because  I am passionate about how arts and culture can be used to widen community participation and to create opportunities for disadvantaged and under-represented groups.


Ros Green
Director of Essex Book Festival

Ros has over thirty-five years working in the cultural sector both in the UK and overseas. She is also a Freelance Writer and an Arts Consultant with a special focus on audience development. She has a PhD in Literature from the University of Essex, which is ‘home’ to Essex Book Festival.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Edinburgh.


Rae Bennison
Vice-chair and Director of The Essex Medusa Project

I am a Master of Science Student, and a microbiology lab intern. For as long as I can remember; women’s rights, women’s safety, and women’s protection has been a passion of mine and something I have always been keen to put my time into. My studying career as a marine biologist made me think I would never be able to make a difference in this field, but the Essex Medusa Project has given me that chance, and I am going to fulfil it.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Brighton

I am so excited to be in a room full of people who think outside the box, notice problems and go out of their way to improve them.


Sara Tupper
Manager, One Chelmsford

I’ve grown up, lived and worked in Chelmsford for pretty much all of my life and am really happy to now be involved in shaping the future of the city. I am currently the BID Manager and am very passionate about supporting the city centre and the amazing businesses we have here. For years I have worked and volunteered for local groups and organisations, raising money for charity and organising events and I love that I can bring that experience and passion into my job role.

Favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! Brighton

I’m excited to be part of the first Ignite Ideas Lab as I love seeing people come together to take action and make a difference.

Grace Thorne along with David Wright is Co-Director of Commission Projects – a visual arts consultancy specialising in developing and delivering public art projects that define places and involve people.

With over 20 years of working in public art development, Grace has a strong commitment to promoting the significant benefits that the inclusion of artists can bring to the public realm.

Commission Projects work closely with developers, to help them meet planning conditions in ways that provide the greatest benefit to them, the public and local people.  To achieve this, they work with both leading and emerging artists.

Favourite City World: Christchurch (New Zealand)

I am excited to be part of the Ignite Ideas Lab because it is a great opportunity at a particularly significant time to explore new ideas and practices for reinvigorating not only Chelmsford City Centre, but city centres in general through cultural activities.

Martina Juvara, the director of URBAN Silence, based in Chelmsford specialising in strategic planning and urbanism. We design solutions and provide strategic planning advice to communities and local councils in the UK. Internationally, we are involved in large scale strategic planning projects for governments or city leaders. Our work helps defining what kind of place they want to become and prepare programmes of change: normally including planning modifications, design initiatives, investment projects and sometimes even organisational change.

I am fiercely  passionate about places and how people transform them and adapt to them. We are at a time of dramatic societal and environmental change and urban areas can be part of the answer towards a better future.

Favourite city centre at the moment is York.

Why I want to be part: Chelmsford has great youth energy and brilliance – it needs to find new ways to make it shine!


Helen Quinnell, Economic Development Officer, Chelmsford City Council

I’ve been in post with Chelmsford City Council for just over 3 years, building on 20+ years’ experience in business engagement through previous positions held with Essex County Council, Anglia Ruskin University, UK Trade & Investment and DEFRA. Working across all areas of economic development including inward investment, skills, visitor economy and business support – current priorities focus on supporting business recovery; sustainable & green growth; place promotion and destination management to accommodate future strategic growth. To keep moving forward it is imperative to work with key partners such as other local authorities, private sector, local communities, and central government to deliver collaborative, sustainable initiatives and long-term legacy.

Favourite City – Christchurch, NZ  or York, UK – it’s close! For both places it’s about the feelings associated with being there. Safe and familiar but lots to explore.

Why I want to be part of the lab – To be part of the conversation that is going to propel Chelmsford into the next stage of it’s future identity, and look at how the council can support the direction of innovating the City through collaboration.

Emma Bearman is founder of Leeds based social enterprise Playful Anywhere CIC and somehow has ended up with 3 roving shipping containers called Playboxes, a Pop Up Shop Unit in the city centre and is developing a network approach to community led Playboxes in other towns and cities with other creative playful partners. Playful brings together a multi disciplinary team of artists, technologists, creatives for commissions, contracts and consultancy projects across the north of England (happy to travel South too).

Civic minded, provocative, cheeky and catalysing in most endeavors, Emma believes that we can create portals of play to encourage the imaginative capacities, confidence and creativity within all of us, the maxim being ‘If we can imagine it, together we can make it’

Prior to Playful Anywhere, Emma was self appointed Lady Mayoress of Armley and ran the Armley Tourist Board in the early days of social media (Web 2.0) and instigated The Culture Vulture, which became an influential multi author blog, social space and conduit for events, meet ups, workshops, socials, networking and civic conversations in the North. www.playfulanywhere,fun

Name of fave city: Barcelona

Ignite is exciting for the boldness of spirit and ambition and that a group of you are cultivating the conditions for community led reimagining of what a city could be, bringing together a diverse range of people to spring forth new ideas and energies to build something for now and the future.


Spencer Clarke – Public Protection Manager, Chelmsford City Council

Hi – just entered my 35th year with the city council originally as a civil engineer dealing with drains before pioneering CCTV for the city back in 1995 (still completing the finishing touches!). Passionate about safety and protection in all aspects: gangs, exploitation, domestic violence, reducing vulnerability and much more. Championed Purple Flag award for Chelmsford and current projects include the Safer Streets Fund and supporting young people at risk of serious violence. I currently chair the Essex Prevent Delivery Group, vice chair Safer Essex and Mid Essex Children’s Partnership Board and sit on the Essex Violence & Vulnerability Operations Board. When I grow up, I want to be Rick Stein.

Favourite city: Bratislava (my second home), Seville is a close second place, but I didn’t want to upset my wife!

Why am I excited about CENTRE: STAGE

I am a great believer that people’s thinking behaviour in often constrained by the environment in which they work. The Ideas Lab will give the freedom to explore a new blueprint for Chelmsford face-to-face with a variety of exciting people with different ideas. Quite frankly I have had enough of MS Teams and Zoom, and everyone needs their minds reinvigorating.

Chris Land is a Professor of Work and Organization at Anglia Ruskin University, where he oversees a range of research and innovation activities for the Faculty of Business and Law. From (unsuccessfully) running a vegan, wholefood cooperative in his late teens, he went back to college, then university. He never really left, moving from the humanities to a PhD at Warwick Business School. His research is concerned primarily with work, though spills over into consumption and culture. He has researched a range of topics, from knowledge management to craft brewing.  His current focus is on ‘the future of work’.

The name of your favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford!: Berlin (though I love Norwich, which is the nearest city to where I currently live.

Why you’re excited to be part of our first Ignite Ideas Lab: I have seen too many city centres move consumption from new shopping centre to new shopping centre, leaving the last shiny new hope for revitalising part of the city to degenerate, while retailers and shoppers move on. I hope that this event can generate real ideas for building a vibrant and sustainable idea of the city centre, not limited to shopping, but like the ancient Athenian agora, a space of public life and politics, as well as a marketplace, embedded in an environment of workplaces and workshops. That vision seems still relevant to me, even if the 21st century version that I hope we will be envisioning in the Lab would be unrecognisable to Aristotle.

Thea Behrman
Cultural producer, arts project manager

My work is focussed on making artistic projects happen and I have a passion for developing and realising ambitious cultural programmes that connect with audiences in surprising ways.

I’m Senior Project Manager for arts organisation Metal in Southend, working on a number of programmes including Estuary festival, NetPark Wellbeing Project, and have recently initiated a new social enterprise for supporting the next generation of live events producers for the region. I am also a director for 2NQ, an arts, heritage and cultural organisation developing programmes with local communities and in public spaces – most recently an ACE-funded programme exploring what it means to work in the ‘Hybrid Space’.

Last week I presented at a Design Manchester symposium, so of all the cities in the world that is the one I love most right now! Like many of the cities close to my heart it is completely inspiring to see how Manchester’s very essence has been shaped by a vibrant, active and diverse music, arts and cultural scene.

Since moving to Chelmsford nine years ago I have felt that there are exciting opportunities for arts and culture here, so I’m really looking forward to answering these questions with the fantastic group of people brought together for CENTRE:STAGE.

Poone Yazdanpanah, PhD, M.Arch is senior lecturer at Writtle University College and commissioner at the Essex Climate Action Commission-County Council. Her expertise is in Design for sustainability and her interests are tradition and transition, meanings and values. Poone’s research is on Biophilic Urbanism and the importance of creating spaces to connect people with nature to ensure a healthy future for the cities and wellbeing of their residents. Poone was part of a team working on an AHRC research grant, which examined craft, tradition and sustainability among micro-enterprises in the UK. Currently with 18 years academic experience in design studio and theory, she is teaching landscape architecture and garden design.

  • The name of your favourite city (centre) in the world – apart from Chelmsford! My favourite city is Isfahan-Iran
  • A sentence on why you’re excited to be part of our first Ignite Ideas Lab : As an academic, I know the importance of understanding the real world issues when I teach future designers. Ignite Ideas Lab is a great opportunity to strengthen the connection between universities, industry and communities to generate innovative applicable and noble ideas.


Saruhan Mosler is a senior lecturer in landscape architecture at Writtle University College. Her interest is in the urban landscape processes that lead to changes in urban morphology, place‐making and production of urban public space. She has focused on how our cultural everyday heritage can inform design and planning and form place‐making processes. Her recent research focuses on urban rivers as part of the key landscape assets in the green infrastructure systems, their role in future proof cities, and sustainable landscape development strategies.

Favourite city: Munich

I am excited to be part of this community as I am passionate about cities, their past and future stories: I see Ignite Lab project as a collective think-tank to produce great ideas, strategies as well as the potential to influence decision-making in Chelmsford’s transformation for a better future and to realize these in all parts of life for a sustainable and future proof Chelmsford.

SANGITA MITTRA (local resident and business owner)

An award winning multi-talented individual, with a proven track record of developing and delivering various harm reduction projects for diverse age groups and audiences broadly under the headings of prevention or intervention. My dedication and passion for addressing inequalities, gained me an award from Essex Drug Action Team (EDAT) in 2005. This was for embedding Equality and Diversity through all strands of service provision thus making the service accessible for all communities including travellers.

With over 25 years of experience working in the Health & Social Care/|Criminal Justice sectors, my passion for embedding Diversity in Essex, has both created and contributed to developing strong partnerships resulting in various safety initiatives that include, Essex Black History Month, Essex Pride, Hate Incident Reporting Centres to name a few.

I have a passion for working with disengaged youth and the link below, is an example of where young people that were disengaged in the criminal justice system were given the opportunity to positively engage and have a voice. From this initial conference various streams of county line targeted work developed

My own experiences have led me to set up various non-for-profit organisations. I am currently affiliated to  –

New Generation Development Agency – I am the founder member for this organisation, and it is currently run by young people. The primary objective is to support young people of colour, who experience barriers to integration, safety, achievement, and racism. Our current projects include hosting Chelmsford Black History Month, mentoring young people, and Hate Crime awareness in schools. Email-

Integration Support Services – I am the CEO for this charity. We deliver several projects with the aim of achieving, the successful integration of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Our projects include- tailor made family support services, An ESOL school, Immigration Advice, volunteering programme, Hate Incident Reporting Centre (HIRC) and working with unaccompanied minors who have been trafficked through several continents before finding safety in Essex. We work strategically with various partners to make policy change. Email-

Fav City- London of course lol

I’m excited to be apart of the lab for many reasons with the main one being, taking ownership and responsibility for the way our town is shaped for future generations including employment and regeneration.


Steve Goatman

I am an independent coach and producer based in Brightlingsea – a beautiful windswept coastal town in north Essex. I am passionate about inventive performance of all kinds, and I spend my working life generating exciting new ideas and projects with creatives, and helping people and organisations live and work at their best. I have an emergent specialism working with neurodivergent creatives and in 2021 I received ACE DYCP funding to research the intersections of producing, coaching and neurodiversity.

I’m co-director of Colchester Fringe Festival and when I’m not working on performance I’m usually watching it at my spiritual home, Colchester Arts Centre.

My favourite city is Bilbao, for the food, culture, arts scene and surfing in the Bay of Biscay.


Adrian Cooke

Adrian is Music Relationship Manager for Arts Council England who are the main development agency and public funder of the arts sector in England.  Adrian is based in the South East area but with a national role for Contemporary Popular Music. A champion for increased public funding for the rock & pop sector and talent development Adrian has previous experience in promoting live music running festivals, record label management, and rights licensing.

Adrian is also the founder of the Sound & Vision festival and conference event which relaunches in Cambridge in April 2022.

Favourite other city: Liverpool

Sofia Rojas Alfaro

Retail & Event Space Manager – The Art Place Pop-up

With a background in Advertising and Art Direction in Film, I have worked in the creative industry for over 10 years in 3 different countries.

At my current job, I have learnt so much about the people who interact with the arts in Chelmsford in a direct or indirect way. On a daily basis, I have a great insight into their thoughts and perceptions.

I have organised a 2-day Mental Health Awareness Event ( accessible to everyone), Created the Young Artist of the Week ( giving young artists a space to display their work) and put on an  Exhibition called: Where is Home? (starting the 6th of December)

I have been living in Chelmsford for 7 months and I can see all the potential it withholds and I feel very fortunate to be part of its creative growth.

My favourite city is Barcelona.

I enjoy meeting creative passionate people from different backgrounds, creating meaningful connections, and learning 🙂

Karen Whybro

I’m Karen Whybro, a resident and business owner here in Chelmsford but, first and foremost, a feminist campaigner who has been involved in promoting women’s safety here in Essex since the tragic murder of Sarah Everard. Since March this year, I have worked with Chelmsford council, the Business Improvement District and the University of Essex to highlight the issue of violence against women and girls and improve safety for women locally. I am currently working on implementing a women’s safety charter here in Chelmsford which will see a number of “safe spaces” being identified throughout the city for anyone feeling unsafe in the city. The hope is that we can create an improved environment for everybody through the creation of quality provision for women in order that their lives are enhanced in Chelmsford.

My favourite city, outside of Chelmsford, is Brighton!

I am so excited to be part of this Lab, as a resident of Chelmsford, a business owner here but crucially to grow a community of like-minded creative individuals so that we can all work together on innovating ways to improve experiences here for all!

Marc Miller

I’m a local resident currently working for Chelmsford BID. Previous to this I worked for Chelmsford City Council as part of the teams responsible for Chelmsford Christmas Lights Switch On, 3 Foot People Festival, City Diversions, Fling Festival and much more. Over the past 13 years I’ve also launched various Chelmsford based music venues and events inc Chelmsford Film Festival.  Alongside my BID work I co own an events business which provides content at local festivals like Pride and Street Eats & Beats, plus national festivals such as Glastonbury, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and Y Not Festival.

Favourite city – Bristol. It’s vibrant, bursting with creativity and where my family are from.


NezHapi-Dellé Odeleye

Associate Professor, Course leader, MSc Town Planning and a Faculty Director of Research Students at Anglia Ruskin University. She previously worked as an architect, as a Community planner, and a Principal planner, pioneering sustainable design policy and delivery in Wembley & South Kilburn. She was also a strategic planner on sustainable urban design in the first London Plan.

In academia, She collaborated with national & local community stakeholders and urban practitioners as a Steering member of the Changing Chelmsford initiative 2010-2017, which generated the Chelmsford Ideas Hub and Ideas Festivals spin-offs, fabulously coordinated by the amazing Edith Miller!

Research interests include generative spatial justice in regeneration, the agency of planners in sustainable urbanism, and the role of media and identity in the future of places.

One of my favourite city centres – apart from Chelmsford of course! – is Cardiff High Street and arcades.

I’m excited by the potential of the interesting people brought together by Ignite’s ideas lab to inspire creative possibilities for doing the arts and culture differently in Chelmsford, and achieving different results.

Jo Hartle 

Jo splits her life between being the creative business driving force behind the events, education and creative aspects of her career, she has recently returned to Writtle University College to complete her BA after 20 years in the creative industries. Jo started as a lighting designer in the Music Industry, touring the world with bands before later creating duality with education, engagement, change-making and creativity.

Jo is a creative industry educator and strategist and mentors young people coming into the creative industries and particularly under-represented sectors across the world, with a particular focus on creating opportunity.

Jo works with other arts and engagement organisations to bring ideas to life both from a creative and exec producer aspect, has worked with Continental Drifts, Metal, Essex Book Festival, Flock PR, Edelman, Electric Sunshine, Mfor Festival, a natural collaborative leader who values team to make great ideas a reality through the development and production of unique and memorable experiences regardless of the sector.

When out of Essex, her favourite city is Glasgow.

Cllr Marie Goldman 

Hello! Although a lot of my time is now taken up with politics, I’m a relative newcomer to the political world, having first stood for election in 2017, and first elected in 2019. I’m thrilled and honoured to be Chelmsford City Council’s Deputy Leader, and even more excited to have the city’s cultural offering as part of my portfolio. Chelmsford is my home and I’m keen to do everything I can to make it easier for us all to create an even better – and more connected – city in which to live, work and play.

Favourite City Centre: Stockholm

Sentence: I’m excited to be part of the first Ignite Ideas Lab most of all because this is a new chapter in  Chelmsford’s cultural life: new beginnings, new challenges, and lots of new opportunities. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Chris Macmeikan

Director Continental Drifts- Shangri LAs – Lost Horizons – Global Local – Dj Tofu

I have been in the new and rising culture sector for over 30 years, Founder of the agency / producers Continental Drifts, helped create many festivals commercial and mainly non-commercial . I am a director of Shangri Las in Glastonbury , created world’s first fully functioning VR Festival Lost Horizon and Lost Horizons venue in Bristol and Dj vintage music remixed all around the world .

I am totally passionate about the use of outdoor and urban spaces in different ways whether that’s creating whole worlds, devising Promenade events, developing 2 of the UKs biggest Carnivals, turning festival spaces into interactive art galleries. Many of the projects we started have been a part of led to those areas being completely transformed , often with zero Local Authority/ Regen help . This is both positive but negative as well as house prices etc soar.

I’m also passionate about where diverse culture and our amazing diasporas meet 21 st Century mainstream cultures and a lot of our musical work is in this direction . Check

Really passionate about Fling and 3 Foot as some of the best community event models in the UK .

Favourite City – Berlin

Denholm Ellis

Born and raised in Chelmsford, I studied music from a foundation to a degree. My jobs have always had a link to music and I love the grassroots music scene.

I have been heavily involved with the music scene in the City for many years from my first tentative steps working at the record shop to organising a monthly record fair. I put on shows for years at venues across the City bringing artists from all over the world to play. I am a regular BBC Essex guest on the vinyl show and for specific music subjects. I currently work at Hot Box organising the programme and operating the sound desk. We worked hard throughout the pandemic and learned how to broadcast. The venue is incredibly important for the City as it is the only place that supports touring and emerging artists.

My Favorite City other than Chelmsford is Bristol

I am excited to be part of the Hub because Chelmsford is a busy City brimming with people with a strong creative core. I relish being part of the local scene and am honoured to be invited to participate in the lab.

Lynne Foster

Hi, I   live in Chelmsford , although retired now my work history is in social housing, both for general rent and supported housing. I  was a director of the local housing association, my  responsibilities  included development,  innovation and  community  participation . I  am a trustee of Chelmsford  CVS and Keene Homes, a local almshouse, and have been an enthusiatic member of Chelmsford Theatre Workshop  for at least the last 30 years, doing everything  from spear carrier/door opener to directing Shakespeare  plays.

My favourite city ( apart from Chelmsford ) is Edinburgh, we have been to the fringe about 20 times and love it there.

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