We’re delighted to announce that Sarah James is our new chief executive. She replaces longstanding Dorset arts champion Mike Hoskin. Mike is still working with us in a part-time role.

‘This is a fantastic time to join The Arts Development Company. Mike has done a heroic job guiding the team through its set-up. Now is the time for us to refresh our approach, ensuring the continued success and sustainability of the organisation and making a real difference to people’s lives in Dorset and beyond,’ Sarah said.

Pioneering social enterprise

We are a pioneering social enterprise, the only one of our kind in the UK. We believe in the power of arts and culture to make lives better. Formed in 2015 from Dorset County Council’s in-house arts team, we now employ 15 people and manage a turnover of £750,00 a year.

Sarah James joins us from the Architecture Centre in Bristol, where she was director. Before that, she was head of learning and participation at Alexandra Park and Palace in Haringey. She’s no stranger to the Arts Dev Co – in 2016 she completed a six-week contract to set up Culture+, our three-year £950,000 project to support the growth of artists and creative industries in Dorset.

Arts and heritage

Sarah has wide experience of the arts and heritage sectors. She was deputy director of the Situations Trust in Bristol, general manager for learning and participation at The Royal Opera House, executive director of Seachange Arts, learning and skills officer at Arts Council East and an outreach officer for English Heritage. She has a masters degree in gallery studies from the University of Essex.

Outgoing chief executive Mike Hoskin is looking at ways to develop investment in the arts in Dorset. He’s also responsible for ongoing liaison with county and district councils during local government reorganisation.