A new mentoring programme for creatives under 30

We want to support the next generation of creative practitioners and leaders. We are matching professional mentors working in the arts and culture sector with emerging creatives looking for professional development, support, challenge and advice.

Photography by Gina Bolt


To inspire emerging creatives and support their professional development through connecting them with experts in their sector. Mentors may help mentees with:

  • Building a portfolio
  • Writing a business plan or funding application
  • Applying for work and writing a CV
  • Building a network
  • Developing and presenting project ideas
  • Finding new pathways and new directions

How it works:

  • Mentees will be matched with a mentor by us at the Arts Development Company. We’ll base our decision on your application form, and in some cases we may not have an appropriate mentor for you at this time.
  • Mentees will receive up to six mentoring sessions between October 2019 and March 2020. Dates and times will be agreed by mentor and mentee and they may be over the phone or in person.
  • Before the programme begins, mentors and mentees agree a contract of engagement with us.
  • Mentees will identify and communicate their aims and needs to their mentors before each mentoring session to enable focus and task orientated outcomes.
  • Mentees will commit to feeding back to us about how this pilot has helped them.
  • We’ll stay in touch with both the mentors and mentees throughout the programme to support quality and keep everyone feeling safe.

How to apply:

Please email your name, telephone number and email address to rosie@theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk with a covering letter (no more than 500 words) explaining your career to date, why you would like to be part of the pilot and how you hope this will benefit you.


Meet our Mentors


Gemma Alldred

Arts and wellbeing specialist, producer and theatre maker

My background and training are in theatre; specialising in Arts and Wellbeing work, developing and delivering community arts projects, managing and training staff and volunteers, producing and leading on events and festivals.

In 2008 I co-founded the award winning Arts and Mental Health organisation Converge and led Out of Character Theatre Company.

I’ve been a visiting lecturer in HE, a Community Director for Salisbury Playhouse, a Programme Manager at Bridport Arts Centre and as a ‘portfolio’ practitioner I’m adept at working on a mix of projects for varying organisations.

Eilís Bevan-Davis

Artistic Director, Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists

I’m a theatre maker and director specialising in devised work with young people. I have facilitated creative processes with large community groups throughout the UK and Europe. The majority of my work has a strong political focus and is created from real stories. All my work brings together disabled and non-disabled people to make and tour high quality new work. Inclusivity is at the heart of my work.

Stephanie Bird

Studio Manager EY Sculpture UK, Dorset.

II have worked as an art technician since graduating from a 3D Design degree in 1993, my current role ranging far beyond studio management. As a broad problem solver, designer, painter and maker, the exploration of materials, technique and skill are at the core of my work.

Whilst supporting artists I watch, learn, aid, facilitate, research and implement.

Alice Blogg

Designer, maker, business woman

I create and collaborate with craftspeople to produce furniture, interiors, and bespoke projects. My work has been featured in Modern Rustic, Homes & Antiques, and collaborators include the Architectural Association and Benchmark Furniture. I also write a monthly column for the Bridport Times.

I’m passionate for the provenance and natural beauty of wood, with many commissions starting with a living tree.

Becky Chapman

Executive Director, Diverse City

I’ve had 35 years’ experience in the performing arts as a creative, educator, strategist and manager. I’m experienced at organisational development, board relationships, budgeting, fundraising and

audience development. I have particular interests in new work, youth theatre and community engagement.

Rachel Coney

I’m an experienced mentor with a successful track record of helping others to challenge their own thinking, create their own plans and develop their skills. I’ve spent my career delivering complex strategic planning, organisational development and change management programmes in the cultural and health sectors as a senior leader, management consultant and charity Chair and Trustee.  I took early retirement in September 2017 to relocate from Oxford to West Dorset. Since moving I have opened a small holiday business and I’m mentoring leaders in the local arts community on a voluntary basis.

Simon Dawe

Director, EY Sculpture UK

I was born in Farsund in Norway and grew up in Dorset. I graduated in fine art painting and I continue to paint, and to exhibit and sell my work.

At the age of 26 I began a collaboration with artist Emily Young that has lasted 23 years. We run a studio, and project manage installations and exhibitions.

During this period, I set up Wootton and Dawe with a good friend, executing projects for other artists, curating exhibitions as well as creating bespoke installations and objects of our own.

Megan Dunford

Arts Professional

I completed a degree in Fine Art at University of Wales Cardiff, graduating in 2011. I’ve since worked for organisations across Dorset including Dorset Visual Arts, Dorchester Arts, Bridport Arts Centre and Dorchester Youth Theatre, as well as being a steering member for Visual Arts South West. Last year I completed a TEFL qualification and have just returned from teaching young people in Mexico. My areas of expertise are working with and supporting young people and artists and organising and promoting events, particularly those related to visual arts or youth theatres. I also manage my own professional practice and I’ve taken part in various exhibitions and open studios events across the county.

Sarah James

Chief Executive at The Arts Development Company, Dorset

I’ve held senior management and leadership roles in internationally and nationally renowned arts and cultural organisations for the last 15 years, including at Arts Council England and the Royal Opera House. All these roles involved leading creative teams and producing high profile and quality programming for galleries, public realm and festivals. My areas of specialism include socially engaged practice, outdoor arts and public realm,

fundraising, evaluation and measuring social impact and business planning.

Elspeth McBain

Chief Executive, Lighthouse, Poole

I’ve been Chief Executive of the UK’s largest regional Arts Centre since 2009.Previous roles include Director of Theatre Management at ENO, Project Director for client liaison during the £116 million refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall in 2005, Head of Hall Programme Planning at Southbank Centre, Head of Programming at Fairfield Halls, Croydon and Entertainment Officer for LB Lambeth.

Kate McStraw

Creative Collaborator

I’m best known for my work as a creative producer and designer across a range of art forms including theatre, dance, circus and outdoor arts. I’ve created many immersive and promenade events throughout my career to date. I’m passionate about breaking down perceived and real barriers to accessing arts and cultural activities and bolstering opportunities for early career women in the arts. I’ve worked with companies including Inside Out Dorset festival, Strike A Light, Bristol Puppetry Festival, The RSC, Yorke Dance Project, Gobbledegook Theatre and Green Ginger.

Hazel Province

Independent Arts Consultant

I began my career as a professional violinist and then became Orchestra Director at the Royal Opera House. I also served 10 years as Director of Planning, including keeping all artistic operations going throughout the recent ‘Open Up’ major capital project.

I have considerable Board experience in the non-profit / charitable sector, and I currently sit on the boards for the Royal Northern College of Music and The Arts Development Company.

My skills include strategic business and artistic planning, people and change management and problem solving.

Laura Reid

Freelance composer, cellist, educator

I have 15+ years’ professional experience working as a musician. I started out playing and performing live with Mercury nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams. I combined this with my own composing and teaching, writing music for digital film, theatre and instrumental works. I was recently commissioned for Dorset Moon; my track ‘Celestial bodies’ was written for silent disco headsets.

I’m an Arts Award trainer and I’ve worked on widening participation programmes. My mentoring offer includes support and advice on performance skills, composition, confidence building, teaching. and early stage career funds.

Molly Scarborough

Creative Producer

I am a Dorset based Creative Producer, Project Manager and Performing Artist. I am driven by social change, equality and voicing the unheard voices. As a performer I create intimate autobiographical works that confront and question the limitations of my body.

Recently I have been focussing on running youth-led projects, events, festivals and training sessions. My work is always framed around the wants, needs and passions of the communities I’m currently working with and usually always include skill development.

Mark Tattersall

Artistic Director, Dorchester Arts

After graduating in Japanese Studies, I started my career as a musician, then spent the next 14 years in the music industry, latterly as Vice President of a division of Sony Music Europe. In 2000 I moved into the visual arts, running an art gallery and art consultancy. In 2008 I moved into art education, joining the Art Academy in London where I was Chief Executive until moving to Dorset in 2012 to take up my current post as Artistic Director of Dorchester Arts. I have served on several charitable boards as Chair or Trustee over the past 30 years

Sally Watkins

b-side co artistic director (social engagement)

I graduated with a degree in Devised Theatre. I then taught at Dartington College of Arts and made my own art works for several years before having my son and moving back to Dorset, where I helped set up b-side.

b-side is both a festival and an arts organisation that really endeavours to connect residents with the artists who come to work on the island.

It’s important that the next generation of producers, curators, artistic directors and artists feel that there is room for them to work in Dorset.

Kate Wood

Artistic and Executive Director – Activate Performing Arts (producers of Inside Out Dorset)

I have worked in the industry for over 26 years after graduating with a degree in Theatre Studies and English Literature from Leeds University.I have been an actor, tour manager, producer, festival director, workshop leader and have held director roles for almost 20 years.

I work with artists, producers, venues and a range of different organisations to produce both large and small-scale projects.I have given advice and guidance to many artists and emerging producers over the years and am passionate about supporting our sector.