A hub for creativity

The Creative Colchester Partnership brings together leaders from across the cultural, creative and digital sectors, including the major arts organisations and business representatives, to work collaboratively to promote and support the sector. The Partnership’s aims are:

  • To provide visible leadership for the cultural, creative and digital sector in Colchester
  • To act as a channel for communication and positive engagement between the sector and key partners, including Colchester Borough Council, Essex County Council, SELEP, Arts Council England and others.
  • To promote, share, consult, signpost and support the sector, building the reputation of Colchester as a creative hub and developing a sustainable platform for communication across the sector.
  • To review strategic initiatives, policy and projects by key partners and to make strategic recommendations how culture, creativity and digital innovation can be maximised through project planning and delivery.
  • To make recommendations for new projects and initiatives which would stimulate development of the sector in Colchester, for delivery through and by key partners and organisations active in the borough.
  • To advocate for the sector’s importance as a major contributor to the community and economic development of the borough.
  • To ensure that the developments which support and enhance the creative and digital economy and its potential within the borough are encouraged and delivered.

This website is a platform for the creative, cultural and digital sector to promote, share, and signpost opportunities and a directory of locally based businesses, freelancers and organisations.

Colchester is home to a thriving and expanding creative, cultural and digital sector, including over 3,500 businesses and anchored by four Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations – Firstsite, awarded Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2021, the Mercury Theatre, Colchester Arts Centre, and the Colchester + Ipswich Museums service.

Colchester is recognised nationally as a hub for creativity: by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) as a Creative, Cultural and Digital Hub for North Essex, by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) as a creative cluster as well as being recognised in the government’s Industrial Strategy Sector Deal for the Creative Industries.

The Creative Colchester Partnership is led by a board which meets on a quarterly basis. Board membership includes the following core representatives:

  • Representatives from all four National Portfolio Organisations in the borough
  • Representation from the University of Essex and Colchester Institute

Further board members (up to maximum of 15 board members in total) are selected to represent the sector as a whole, with a diversity of experience, age, background and outlook. New members are sought through an open application process annually with applications invited in June for new board members to be in place for the September board meeting. New board members are selected by existing board members on a consensus basis.

All board members (including the chair)  serve a maximum term of four years.

Representatives from Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council (including officers and lead members/portfolio holders), Arts Council England, and other key partners are invited to attend board meetings as observers and to contribute to discussion when appropriate but hold no decision-making role with the Partnership.

Creative Colchester Partnership: board members

Hana Loftus, chair
HAT Projects

Hana is co-director of HAT Projects, a Colchester based architecture, urban design and planning practice working primarily in the cultural and community sectors. Hana is a chartered town planner and co-chair of the Suffolk Design Review Panel. HAT Projects own and manage Trinity Works, a creative workspace hub in the town centre. Hana was previously a board member of DanceEast and Roman River Music.

Sally Shaw MBE

Sally is Director of Firstsite, winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2021 award. Previously Sally was Head of Programme at Modern Art Oxford, Deputy Head of Culture for the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, Chief Curator for London Underground, Director of Media Art – Bath and Residency Programme Manager at Spike Island, Bristol.

Steve Mannix

Steve is Executive Director of the Mercury Theatre, a post he has held since 2014. He previously held a variety of senior positions with Stonewall, Battersea Arts Centre, Liverpool City of Culture, Graeae Theatre Company, The Albany Empire, Shape and London 2012. Steve also serves on the Board for Visit Essex, Colchester LCEP, the Haven Gateway Partnership, One Colchester and Outhouse. He was appointed an Ambassador for Colchester in 2018.

Anthony Roberts

Anthony Roberts is Director of Colchester Arts Centre, which he has led for more than 30 years. The venue presents an eclectic mix of performance, championing new work, experimentation and innovation. Anthony is also chair of Frozen Light Theatre Company, a trustee of Bobby Baker’s Daily Life Ltd and acts in an advisory capacity for the arts partnership Hunt & Darton. He has worked extensively at the Edinburgh Festival where he has long campaigned for better access for artists and audiences with disabilities.

Frank Hargrave
Colchester + Ipswich Museums

Frank is Museums Manager for Colchester + Ipswich Museums and a trustee of the Colchester Museums Development Foundation.. He was previously director of Norton Priory in Cheshire, where he led a £4.5m redevelopment.

Susan Oliver
University of Essex

Susan is Faculty Dean of Research in Arts and Humanities and Professor of Literature at the University of Essex.

Ben Treacher

Ben is Head of FE Music and Performing Arts at Colchester Institute. He has extensive experience over many years in actor training and educational leadership.

Rachel Hipkiss

Rachel is Director of Signals, a centre for creative digital learning in Colchester. Rachel has managed the company since 2007 and has many previous years experience of working in media, education and arts organisations.

Phil Warnock

Phil is Director and Founder of Ginger Nut Media Ltd, which he launched in 2011. He left school at 16 with no education beyond Level 2 and went straight into the world of work. Ginger Nut Media is a big supporter of apprenticeships, and in 2014, the company added a provider arm, which now trains almost 200 apprentices at some of the largest businesses in the country. Phil chaired the South East Local Ambassador Network when the apprenticeship levy was being implemented, feeding into the launch of the Institute for Apprenticeships, and was named a top 100 apprentice employer three times. He is a STEM ambassador and commercial and personal mentor for the Prince’s Trust.

Remi Morrison

Remi is the founder of Red Cactus Media. She is a Nigerian/British producer who has credits including music videos, feature films, corporate videos and short films. After nearly ten years in music and media PR in London, Remi has worked for some of the biggest radio stations in the UK working on campaigns for national artists and LoveBox Weekender. won Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 at the BME Business Awards and Red Cactus Media was shortlisted for Business of the Year. She is part of the programme board of Suffolk Libraries, and also works with Future Female Society where she runs workshops for young women to get them into the creative industries. She is also an Enterprise Advisor for the New Anglia Careers Network.

Ben Philp

Ben is Creative Director at the Creative Coop, a Colchester-based design studio specialising in branding, design and web development. Ben specialises in working with social enterprises, community projects and organisations, charities and the public sector.