Who We Are
Chew Valley Performing Arts was incorporated as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in August 2015, with charity number 1163177.
Its purpose is “to promote, maintain, improve and advance education and appreciation of the arts in all forms among the people and communities of the Chew Valley and the surrounding area.”
The charity’s aim is to fulfil that purpose by developing a new purpose-built Performing Arts Centre in the Chew Valley.
Trustees of the charity are:
Valley Arts enquiry
Please get in touch with the relevant board member if you have contacts or expertise you can offer to a specific action group.
The board of trustees has put in place a series of policies, covering the following areas. They are available on request.
Conflict of Interest; Diversity & Inclusion; Donations and Fundraising; Financial Expenditure; Privacy; Safeguarding; Volunteers.
Dairy farmer Michael Eavis is best known as the founder of Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, which takes place on his farm in Pilton, Somerset. The world-famous festival began after a casual visit to the Bath Blues festival in the late 1960s: Michael decided to have a go himself in 1970.
Glastonbury Festival did not make a profit for several years, but when it did Michael began to look for good causes to support, both locally and internationally. Today each festival aims to raise £2 million in aid of Greenpeace, Oxfam and WaterAid, as well as hundreds of local causes.
“I’m delighted to support Chew Valley’s arts centre project,” says Michael. “Rural areas deserve to share the energy and creativity generated by the performing arts.”
In-between raising four children Sarah opened Holt Farm Gardens in Blagdon under the National Gardens Scheme. It’s now known as Yeo Valley Organic Garden and is part of Yeo Valley’s Venues.
Sarah now works full time alongside her husband Tim Mead for Yeo Valley and as part of their marketing strategy is responsible for creative input at Yeo Valley HQ and the Organic Gardens.
Sarah spent three years at dance school in London (She formed a dance troupe with Liz Hurley: they toured the capital and were regularly pelted with food.) She is involved with a range of charity projects including the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust, raising money for Horatio’s Garden.
Of the Chew Valley Performing Arts Centre, she says: “I’m chuffed to bits to be part of this fantastic project, which will enable everyone to be more involved in the artistic life of the valley.”
She doesn’t get much time to spend in the garden these days, but she may be found in the herbaceous border with her pug Mabel, or throwing some shapes at any festival she can manage to get tickets to.
A local NHS doctor, broadcaster, Private Eye journalist, writer and comedian, Phil Hammond has lived in the Chew Valley for over 20 years, and loves it.
Phil has done four UK comedy tours and shows at the Edinburgh Fringe spanning 26 years. He has won a Writers’ Guild Award for his Radio 4 comedies and has written five books, most recently Staying Alive – How to Get the Best from the NHS. Phil writes regularly for the Mendip Times and is a presenter on BBC Radio Bristol on Saturday mornings.
“The Chew Valley is a wonderful place to live,” Phil says, “but an arts centre would make it perfect. Art is great for education, health and happiness.”
Following the amazing Secret Cabaret evening held up at Yeo Valley, multi award winning actor of stage and film Jeremy Irons has agreed to become patron of Valley Arts. As Jeremy told a captivated audience last November “The arts remind us of our humanity, our individuality and our vulnerability. They help us understand the disparate pieces of the world and how they fit together. They help us make form out of chaos. They give us a holiday with life.”
“We know the arts help create and cement together communities. How they teach you to ,listen and become a team player. How it builds peoples self confidence and encourages them to be proud of their individual specialness. Being involved in the arts allows us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Geraldine Hill-Male (Chair)
Geraldine is a Senior Lecturer in Drama and Education at Bath Spa University. Before this she was Director of Performing Arts at an inner city Bristol school for 20 years, and instrumental in attracting key funding from national and local funders to build a £2 million Performing Arts centre which was a hub for community and school-based arts activities.
She has worked closely with local and national arts organisations such as the Royal Opera House and Bristol Old Vic Theatre, developing outreach programmes with inner-city students and their families.
Geraldine has lived in the Chew Valley for over 20 years and was a founder and board member of The Community Farm in Chew Magna. “I am convinced 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.”
Dr Ray Montague
Ray is a GP in South Bristol. He has lived in the Chew Valley with his wife, Heather since 1992. During that time he has contributed to many music and theatre projects across the Valley, including leading youth jazz band projects, contributing to the infamous East Harptree Orchestra as well as local amateur dramatics. All three of Ray’s children passed through Chew Valley School receiving an excellent grounding in music, drama and art which they have continued to develop in their adult lives. His desire is to ensure everyone in the community is able to benefit from these opportunities both now and in the future. Ray is also the founder and chairman of BrisDoc Healthcare Services which brings significant boardroom experience to our board of trustees.
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.
Camilla moved to the Chew Valley with her young family in 2016. She is a partner at a large law firm in Bristol where company law and corporate governance are very much a part of her day job.
Camilla became involved with Valley Arts after attending a couple of the fundraising events with her husband and two young girls.
From a young age Camilla learned ballet, played the violin and took part in school plays. She is keen for her daughters to have the same opportunities and experiences and believes passionately in our vision and the benefits that a new Performing Arts space can deliver to the Chew Valley and its people.
Patrick has recently retired after a long career in Change and IT Management, working for major corporations including AXA, Somerfield and Thomas Cook. He has delivered many complex programmes with responsibility for strategic planning, project management, financial control and governance.
Patrick’s retirement plan is to combine the Valley Arts project with his other passions of pottery, travelling, walking and skiing. Patrick and his wife Rachael have lived in the Chew Valley for 30 years and all three of their children went to Chew Valley and Chew Stoke Schools where Patrick was a Governor.
Patrick and Rachael have a shared love of the performing arts having been long-time members of Winford Players. Rachael also ran Sutton Youth Theatre for a time. “Over the years, local amateur theatre groups would combine to form ‘Valley Players’ and put on bigger productions at Chew Valley School. It would have been marvellous to have been able to do this in a professional community Arts Centre” says Patrick.
“The idea of a Performing Arts Centre in a rural area is very exciting and has so much potential. I envisage a hub at the heart of the community, providing unity, entertainment and pride for everyone from toddlers to pensioners. If we can provide an accessible, easy to reach venue where you can find professional productions, children’s shows, live music, classes, a cafe and more every week of the year, think of the buzz it will create!”
Sarah’s professional life (as Sarah Prag) has seen her develop and launch many pioneering digital products and services over the last two decades – including bringing eBay to the UK, introducing podcasting to the BBC and leading the development and launch of GOV.UK. She now works as an independent consultant and coach helping public sector organisations grow their digital confidence.
Away from work Sarah lives near Wrington with her young daughter and husband Bill, who teaches pottery at the Barley Wood Walled Garden. Sarah was very involved with theatre at school and university, and has been a keen audience member ever since as well as an avid gig goer. She’s really excited about bringing great performances to the valley, and also enabling young people to get involved.