Dynamic Halifax-based company Northern Broadsides has announced the appointment of Debbie Richards as their new Chair. Having begun her career in marketing for touring theatre companies and specialising in producing site-specific theatre, Richards has over twenty-five years of cumulative experience in the not-for-profit creative industries and is proud to be the Chair of Northern Broadsides. In 2003 Richards founded Baker Richards, providing consulting services and dedicated software for cultural organisations worldwide. Richards has an extensive experience in governance and oversight and has served on boards covering various art forms such as theatre, media and live cinema.

The Northern theatre company has also announced that current Trustees Patsy Gilbert and Lucinda Harvey will become Joint Vice-Chairs. Prioritising their shared leadership model, the appointment of joint Vice-Chairs reflects Northern Broadsides’ forward-thinking style, making the most of the collective’s skills and strengths rather than putting emphasis on one leader.

Joint Vice-Chair Patsy Gilbert is currently Vice Principal at Leeds Conservatoire. Since joining in 2018, Gilbert has developed new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Musical Theatre, Acting and Actor Musician. Gilbert is committed to making radical and sustainable changes in conservatoire training, leading projects in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She speaks both nationally and internationally about the role of women in the arts and aims to remove barriers for Northern artists seeking training and opportunities in the arts. 

Joint Vice-Chair Lucinda Harvey has worked in theatre production and human resources since 1993 and her work focuses on welcoming disabled people across the West End and the UK into both subsidised and commercial theatre companies. For many years Harvey has advised on working conditions in the theatre industry and set up the Relaxed Performance Project. In 2015 Lucinda Harvey moved to Manchester to open her HR consultancy, working with all sizes of dance, opera and theatre companies.

Alongside these appointments, Northern Broadsides has also announced Andy Pyke, Nelli Mooney and Kate Mroczkowski as their new Trustees. Andy Pyke is a financial professional, having trained as a chartered accountant within local accountancy practice in East Yorkshire. In 2015 Pyke joined the Hull Truck Theatre as Financial Controller, playing a key role in Hull’s turn as the 2017 UK City of Culture. In late 2018, Pyke took up his current appointment as Finance Director of Hull Churches Housing Association.

Trustee Nelli Mooney is a Finnish-born, non-binary creative currently residing in Scarborough. Having studied Drama at York St. John’s University, Mooney began exploring writing their own absurdist material after studying Samuel Beckett. They currently work at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough as an Assistant Producer and Talent Development Coordinator, and are passionate about advocating for marginalised voices.

Kate Mroczkowski has been working in the cultural sector for two decades. After working in ticketing and fundraising for theatres, Mroczkowski moved to the technology sector and is currently Strategy Director at Supercool, an agency building websites for the cultural sector. In 2023 Mroczkowski completed her MBA at the University of Bradford, with her final project focusing on Circular Economy and digital sustainability, looking at how to reduce the environmental impact of websites and digital activity.  

Northern Broadsides’ new Chair Debbie Richards comments, 

“Collaboration and co-creation are at the heart of the Northern Broadsides vision. I’m proud to be working together with a wonderful team as we embrace different ideas, build relationships and develop new models. This creative thinking has extended to our new governance and leadership structure. 

We know that if leaders are collaborative, and model this in how an organisation is run, then a sense of community is created. We have favoured a non-executive leadership spread across a Chair and two Vice-Chairs, with trustees taking active support roles, and joint executive leadership. We will share inspiration and ideas and learn from one another to create the conditions for Northern Broadsides to thrive.”

Joint CEOs, Laurie Sansom (Artistic Director) and Ruth Cooke (Executive Director) commented, 

“We are delighted that Debbie is the new Chair of Northern Broadsides. With her wealth of experience across charitable and commercial sectors and deep passion for the arts, she is the perfect person to lead our dedicated and talented team of Trustees.   

The shared leadership model, with Lucinda and Patsy taking active roles as Vice-Chairs, opens up opportunities for collaboration and support and is in line with Northern Broadsides’ commitment to championing a breadth of voices across all aspects of our work.  

Our three new Trustees bring an exciting range of skills and experience and we look forward to working with them all to realise our creative and social ambitions and continue to build a resilient, sustainable future.”