Geraldine Hill-Male (Chair)
Geraldine was Director of Performing Arts at Cotham School for 20 years, and instrumental in attracting key funding from national and local funders to build a £2 million music, arts and drama centre there, which has become a hub for community and school-based arts activities in North Central Bristol.
She has worked closely with local and national arts organisations such as the Royal Opera House and Bristol Old Vic Theatre, developing outreach programmes ensuring that inner-city students and their families are introduced to the highest standards of participation and performance in the performing arts.
Geraldine has lived in the Chew Valley for 20 years. She is a founder and board member of The Community Farm in Chew Magna, a membership owned community enterprise which grows organic vegetables. She is currently a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University.
"It has become more and more evident to me that a creative community is a happy, fulfilled and generous community," says Geraldine. "Getting involved and being part of something is what matters – whatever an individual's capacity or ability."
Geraldine also reshaped the governance structure of Cotham School to become one of the country’s first cooperative academies, where a forum which invites and encourages stakeholder participation in the decision-making and governance of the school is now flourishing.
Steve is currently Head of Performing Arts at Chew Valley School, an Artsmark Gold and specialist performing arts college for over 10 years. A teacher with over 25 years of experience teaching drama, Steve also contributes to BBC Bitesize and has helped develop new GCSE and A level specifications. The author of a textbook on drama in the classroom, Steve believes passionately in the power that the arts have to transform lives and last year worked with the Arts Council helping to develop the new Artsmark programme, a scheme that helps to celebrate and promote the best of the arts in schools across the UK.
But Steve believes it's a tragedy if all that creative expression ends when we leave school. "Picasso said 'All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
One of the things that attracted Steve to the Chew Valley was the amazing variety of involvement of people of all ages in a wide variety of arts activities. "There are so many people who live and work around the valley who belong to dance companies, choirs, theatre groups, orchestras and bands. This is an extraordinary level of community involvement compared with some inner-city communities, and these activities not only provide a huge amount of fun for many people, but also knit together village communities.
However, he has found that residents in a neighbouring village might be completely unaware of all the energy and creativity that's going on in a nearby village hall. "I've come away from shows thinking 'That was absolutely fantastic – but why haven't more people been able to enjoy it?
He believes that an arts centre which offers a bigger venue could draw together audiences from all around the Chew Valley and act as a creative hub bringing all the communities together. "Valley Arts is not trying to take any activities away from the vibrant network of village halls, but would offer every group the chance to showcase the amazing work that they create in a larger, purpose-built arts venue.
Matt has a background in advertising and marketing, having spent well over 30 years in leading agencies helping clients grow. He is the founder of Mindset, a marketing consultancy based in Bristol specialising in community insight and intelligence. He is also a director of P15, a specialist, insight-led media independent.
As teenagers his children have both been active drama and performing arts students at Chew Valley School. "Performing arts run deep in our family," says Matt. "I’ve spent half my life drumming in rock bands, whilst my wife trained as a professional dancer at Arts Educational School in London, and later in her career was part of the management team at Northern Ballet Theatre.
"I believe Valley Arts gives a much-needed boost to the performing arts in our part of the world, and that can only ever be a good thing."
The Stewart family have lived in the Chew Valley since 2000. When not working, Matt can be found hill-walking or listening to a constant diet of BBC R4 and Radio 6 Music.