Storyhouse is managed by a talented and highly committed team including a fantastic board of trustees who give their time freely and for which we are very grateful.
Andrew Bentley BEM – Chief Executive
Andrew is Storyhouse’s founding Chief Executive and has led the organisation since 2006. Andrew trained as a musician and has many years experience running large cultural venues. He was Director of Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall, which he re-built and re-launched. He has spent considerable time in both the cultural and private sectors. He co-founded and built Liverpool’s iconic Hope Street Hotel which, along with its restaurant, has won many national awards over the years, including the industry’s award for the UK’s Best New Hotel. He arranged to buy the bankrupt Playhouse theatre and raised enough funds to re-furbish and bring about its merger with the Liverpool Everyman. He is a board member of UK Theatre.
Andrew was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours List for services to arts and libraries.
Alex Clifton – Artistic Director
Alex is Storyhouse’s founding Artistic Director and shapes the creative and community output of the organisation. Born and raised in Chester, Alex found his tribe in the Chester Gateway Youth Theatre before graduating with a starred first in English from Oxford. He worked as assistant director for the National Theatre and a resident director at English National Opera, directing new operas with young offenders, youth centres and London schools. He ran his own theatre company before becoming a Senior Acting Teacher at RADA. He has written a book on teaching acting for Bloomsbury. He has been heavily involved in many community and education projects, with children in Soweto, teenagers at Theresienstadt, parent asylum-seekers in the Surrey; and elderly immigrant women in Hackney to tell their stories.
Jen Chapman – Head of Sales & Marketing
Jen joined the Storyhouse team in 2016, a year before the Storyhouse building opened and leads on the organisation’s brand and audience development strategies. She is a mentor for The Girls’ Network which aims to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them to a mentor and a network of professionals. She was previously Head of Marketing and Communications at FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) and worked at The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres. Jen has spoken at numerous conferences about successful marketing campaigns, digital marketing and audience development.
Oliver Hill – Head of Operations
Olly runs all of our venue operations, customer service, food & drink and all event programmes. He has worked in hospitality and operations for 20 years, as a general manager, cluster manager & operations manager as well as in brand development and marketing. He has run numerous restaurants, bars and live music venues in London, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, as well as working on festivals and as a consultant on over 10 new bar openings. He came to Storyhouse having spent a number of years as the General F&B Manager for Chester Zoo.
Kate Mylchreest – Head of Development
Kate runs our fundraising and stakeholder management programmes. She has a degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Newcastle University and has worked in fundraising for the not-for-profit sector for over 20 years. She is an avowed champion of Storyhouse’s community programme, particularly supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She has considerable experience in the NHS and held senior positions at both the Countess of Chester and The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, where she set up the R Charity. Kate has specialist experience of managing large capital fundraising campaigns and has lectured at University of Liverpool on this area. She continues to mentor other fundraisers. She started her career in human rights and disability charities in London before coming home to Chester. She’s a long suffering and active member of the local Labour party and knows Chester like nobody else.
Ros Thomas – Head of Finance
Ros joined the Storyhouse team in 2017. As the head of finance, she has an overall responsibility for the charity’s financial health. Ros combines both an operational and strategic role, managing the accounting and financial control functions for the organisation as well as shaping its financial strategy to ensure long-term sustainability. An industry accountant from a commercial background, Ros previously worked at Chester Race Company specialising in project management and systems change. After 15 years living & working in Chester, Ros considers this home and enjoys spending anytime she’s not working with her small human.
Board of Trustees
Peter Mearns – Chair
Peter was born in Dorking, Surrey, is a graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University and started his career with BBC Manchester. Between 1999-2010 he was an Executive Director at the Northwest Development Agency. Peter is a former Council member of Arts Council England North; Sports Council England, Northwest; Member of Tate Liverpool Council and was Chair of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. He was a member of the London 2012 Nations & Regions Group representing the North West and chaired the steering committee for the Olympic Torch Relay. He is an independent Marketing & Communications Advisor specialising in arts, tourism & business development, media and brand management, public affairs and major events. Peter is also an exhibiting artist/photographer. Peter is also Chair of Liverpool’s Bluecoat and of the Manchester Literature Festival;. also is a Committee Member of Tate Liverpool and trustee of the Open Eye Gallery.
Sue Leech – Vice-Chair
Sue is our Vice-Chair and chairs our finance committee. She was born and still lives on the Wirral. Sue is is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants and has worked in the private sector, mainly in Financial Services. She is also a trustee of Abbeyfield Hoylake and West Kirby Society.
Ngunan Adamu – Trustee
Ngunan Adamu is a trained Journalist, multi-media trainer and entrepreneur, working for varying departments within the BBC with a focus on outreach, youth and music. Ngunan has been at the BBC for fifteen years working locally, nationally and internationally, with a passion for working with women and young people, using media – especially radio to empower and educate the masses. She is currently the producer and presenter of Upfront which is a Black Magazine show at BBC Radio Merseyside focusing on news, current affairs, stories and music that is of interest to the Merseyside Black community. She’s also an international multimedia trainer for the BBC World Service, travelling the globe training foreign journalists and editors for the BBC World Service. Ngunan is also the founder of iWoman Academy CIC a radio academy for women.
Erik Boekesteijn – Trustee
Erik is a Library Avenger and one of Europe’s most respected librarians; he was responsible for much of the design for Storyhouse’s library. He lives in the Netherlands where he is Senior Advisor at the National Library at the Netherlands (KB). He is the Consultant Public Libraries 2020 and founding father of Public Libraries 2030. Facilitator and consultant for IFLA. Owner of Shanachie Media and producer of This Week in Libraries and ShanachieTours, a worldwide tour of searching for best practice in libraries. Presenter, motivator, musician and author. Erik was LJ’s Mover and Shaker of the Library world 2009; and literally and officially the Best Librarian in the Netherlands 2015.
Bense Burnett – Trustee
Bense’s career spans senior leadership roles across numerous countries within a global healthcare business.
He brings expertise in Business Strategy, Project Management, Change Management and Governance having delivered complex, cost-effective services and major organisational change programmes internationally. Throughout his career he has been passionate about applying his expertise to deliver a ‘best in class’ consumer experience. His knowledge and advice has been used by the UK Governments Business, Skills & Innovation Department to assess Shared Services capabilities for its Research Councils in order to drive a major strategy delivery plan. His long held keen interest in the arts together with his recent retirement means that he now has the opportunity to apply his commercial experience to supporting Storyhouse moving forward.
Geoff Clifton MBE – Trustee
Geoff’s professional life was as a consulting structural engineer, after working in various places, including a time with the family in Nigeria, he came to Chester 42 years ago to open a new office for the practice for which he worked. He grew the office to 120 staff designing many key projects in the NW and overseas. In due course he became CEO and chairman of the whole practice with 7 offices in the UK and 6 around the world. Geoff was the first Chair of Storyhouse and remained in post until 2015, he was instrumental in the lengthy and successful development phase of our organisation. Geoff was also a trustee of the old Chester Gateway Theatre.
Geoff was awarded an MBE in in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours List for his work on Storyhouse and for services to Cheshire
Jane Hyndman – Trustee
Jane is an experienced media and copyright lawyer. Jane has worked for and advised many media companies, predominately in the audio-visual sector and is an experienced board director currently sitting on the boards of AGICOA in Switzerland and The Educational Recording Agency in the UK.
Amy Jones – Trustee
Amy came to the board via Storyhouse’s Young Trustee programme and she chairs our Youth Forum. She is 24 and from North Wales and has a BA Hons in Broadcast Journalism and Media Communications. She has also been on our Young Leaders Programme. Amy spends time helping our in the Wardrobe Department and worked backstage on Storyhouse Original’s Productions – Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Blue Stockings, The Suicide and Miss Julie. She has also worked at Lush Cosmetics in Chester.
Katrina Kerr – Trustee
Katrina is a marketing and communications specialist, and chairs our Development Commitee. She divides her time between non-executive roles and consultancy. Her non-exec roles have included a financial services plc, a listed media content company, a university board, an arts organisation, an orchestra and currently a £200m Manchester-based social enterprise covering lifelong education. She has worked for number of multinational communications agencies – Ogilvy, JWT, Publicis – and delivered award-winning marketing and communications campaigns with outstanding return on investment for clients such as Unilever, HSBC, Renault, Reckitt Benckiser and American Express. She has considerable expertise in areas such as customer insight, consumer research both quantitative and qualitative, digital marketing and market research. She has won 5 IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards and has judged both the Norther Digital and Northern Marketing Awards several times. From 2013 – 2018 she was CEO of Marketing Cheshire a private/public partnership dedicated to tourism and place marketing where she has grown the partnership income and funding significantly and created profitable new partnerships, products and revenue streams. She has also worked extensively on inward investment and spearheaded Cheshire’s MIPIM initiative.
Rio Matchett – Trustee
Rio chairs our Access & Inclusion Committee and is our A&I champion. She is a PhD researcher in queer theory and periodical studies at the University of Liverpool, where she sits on the working groups for Decolonising the Curriculum, and the Postgraduate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is a founder of the Queer Modernism(s) conference at the University of Oxford, and the Post Graduate Representative for the European Society of Periodical Research. Rio is a freelance dramaturg, and currently works as the Furnace Coordinator at Leeds Playhouse. She has worked as a reader for organisations including the Bruntwood Prize and Hampstead theatre, and as a director has worked for the Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, the Traverse, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, and Unity. Rio has transformed our work in access and inclusion and her tireless work for Storyhouse has been key in pushing us to achieve Arts Council England’s current high rating for Storyhouse’s creative case for diversity.
Dadiow Lin – Trustee
Dadiow is a freelance theatre director. She directs contemporary plays, adaptation of classics, new writings, and devised performances. Her works has been presented at Storyhouse, the Young Vic, Soho Theatre, RADA, Theatre 503, Southwark Playhouse, Camden People’s Theatre, Rich Mix, BAC and more. Dadiow is the recipient of the Genesis Future Directors Award 2019. She directed Storyhouse’s highly acclaimed staging of Miss Julie in 2020, before joining the board. Before moving into the UK, she worked as an assistant director on productions at the National Theatre of Taiwan. She also directed classical and contemporary plays, and won the Best Director award at the Youth Talent Theatre Festival Competition back in Taiwan. Dadiow’s cultural background pushes her to view the world through various lenses and makes her more sensitive towards the cultural differences that she’s surrounded by. This makes her naturally bring fresh perspectives to a production while directing.
Professor Emeritus Allan Owens – Trustee
Allan is a scholar and practitioner in drama education and applied theatre and a National Teaching Fellow (2003-). He was Co-Director of the Centre for Research into Education, Creativity and Arts through Practice (2014-2020) and Distinguished Teaching Fellow (2006-2020) at the University of Chester. Allan studied at the Universities of Sheffield (BA, 1978), Keele (MA, 1987) and Warwick (PhD, 2007) and developed his practice in a diverse range of contexts beyond universities in the UK and around the world. His work has been translated into Arabic, Catalan, Estonian, Finish, Lithuanian, German, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish. Allan’s latest book is Beyond Text: learning through arts-based research (2021). Allan keeps a very close eye on our education and community programmes, not least our close working relationship with the University of Chester.
Louise Towers – Trustee
Louise Towers is a Chartered Accountant with more than 15 years working as a Finance Director. She has worked in both commercial and not-for-profit and charity sectors. Having graduated with a first class Mathematics and Management Science degree from University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology she Joined Arthur Andersen in Cambridge, where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2002 before going on to head the finance team on a number of high-tech growth companies in Cambridge. She and her family moved back North to the Wirral in 2012. Since then she has also added both not-for-profits and charities to her sector experience with particularly focus around strategies for achieving long-term sustainability, against a backdrop of funding cuts in the sector. Louise’s current post is Global CFO at bikmo. She has two young children and enjoys getting away to North Wales camping, cycling and running whenever time allows. Her business brain has been much in use for Storyhouse during the current testing times.