Contribution to the Arts Award 2020 – Nominations

Nominations for Contribution to the Arts Award 2020



Name of nominee: SUE SHEEN – former Trustee of Springboard

Nominated by: Springboard – Brighton & Hove Performing Arts Festival

The recommendation:

Sue Sheen has recently retired after 17 years as a Trustee of Springboard – Brighton and Hove Performing Arts Festival, including a period as Chair (2010–2017). She spearheaded the reorganization of Springboard in 2010, which established it on a more financially sustainable footing. The Festival, which takes place during weekends in March, now provides a platform for musical and dramatic performances by hundreds of young people and some adults, who receive feedback from experienced specialist adjudicators.

As an ex-drama teacher, Sue Sheen was well placed to run the Speech & Drama section for many years, and then, in her role as Chair, to support it as it expanded to its current size, which includes up to 700 individual theatrical performances, including solo and group acting, improvisation, mime, prose and poetry.

As Chair, Sue’s understanding of the needs of musicians enabled the music sections to flourish and to provide opportunities for some of the country’s future professional players to develop their performance skills, and for players of all ages and skill levels to gain useful performance experience and invaluable advice.

The effort Sue put in to the day-to-day running of the Festival, including overseeing the all-important catering arrangements, represented a huge contribution to Springboard’s welcoming and supportive environment. Indeed, the enthusiastic feedback received by all involved – performers, parents, adjudicators, volunteers – is testament to the success of her leadership in creating an event where the focus is on ensuring that those taking part feel valued and supported.

My fellow trustees join me in supporting this nomination of Sue Sheen, who has devoted her time and energy over the past 17 years to furthering the arts in Brighton and Hove.



Name of nominee: MARY MCKEAN – Chair, The Regency Society 2010-13 and 2019 to present; Chair, Strings Attached 2010 to present

Nominated by: The Regency Society and Strings Attached

The recommendation:

The Regency Society is a charity that encourages excellence in conservation, planning, design and construction in Brighton and Hove. It is as concerned about the future of our city as about the past. It comments and campaigns to protect our heritage and holds regular meetings, visits at home and abroad and social events. Mary has been at its heart for many years and is currently undertaking her second stint as Chair. Not only has she been responsible for revitalising the organisation, she took over a massive and important on-going project: digitising and updating The James Gray Collection of over 7,500 photographs of Brighton and Hove from the 1860s to the 1980s, held at The Keep. The project involves matching each photograph in the collection with a modern one taken from the same place, in order to chart the evolution of our city. Over 70 volunteers, under Mary’s watchful eye, are currently taking photographs and writing explanatory text. When ready the results will be posted on a dedicated website open to all.

Strings Attached is an audience-based organisation formed to promote high-quality chamber music in Brighton and Hove. It grew out of the Sunday Coffee Concerts held for many years at the Old Market, Hove. When, in 2010, Mary learned that the concerts were no longer financially viable she convened a group of like-minded audience members, formed Strings Attached and approached the Chief Executive of Brighton Dome to encourage him to take over what the Old Market had started. Ten years later, after nine successful seasons, the concerts continue to bring chamber groups of international standing to the city. Strings Attached runs a membership scheme, publishes a regular newsletter and reviews, and offers the chance to provide feedback to influence the coming season.



Name of nominee: STUART LONGLEY, Chorus Director, Coastline Harmony

Nominated by: Coastline Harmony

The recommendation:

Coastline Harmony would like to nominate their new chorus director, Stuart Longley, for this award. Stuart has a background in classical music and has contributed in so many ways to that genre as the details below testify. In the past 12 months he has also taken on the role of CD at both Coastline Harmony and The Downsmen.

He has learned new skills related to a cappella singing in close four-part harmony, improved the sound of both choruses and is managing to continue with rehearsals using innovative online tools during the current coronavirus pandemic restrictions. His detailed CV, below, contributes to the reasons why we believe he deserves to be recognised.

He currently conducts:

Coastline Harmony – women’s barbershop/a cappella chorus in Southwick, near Brighton who perform regularly for local charities, care homes and hospices.

The Downsmen – men’s barbershop chorus based in Leatherhead. Part of the British Association of Barbershop Singings (BABS).

Capel Choral Society (Surrey) – SATB choir, part of the Leith Hill Music Festival. Stuart prepares the choir for competition and for massed performance under Festival MD Jonathan Willcocks.

Horsham Harmony (West Sussex) – daytime community choir with strong charitable ethos.

Elmbridge Retirement Village (Cranleigh, Surrey) – daytime mixed-ability choir (both Horsham and Elmbridge currently 40 members each and expanding).

Linden Wind Orchestra (Surbiton, Surrey) – advanced repertoire with post-Grade 8/semi-pro players deputising at short notice for indisposed conductor, two-month period, Autumn 2018.

London Saxophone Choir – developing and adapting bespoke arrangements for niche ensemble.

His current work is just the tip of the iceberg as Stuart has more than 15 years’ experience working in the widest possible range of genres including orchestras, wind bands and ensembles, large choral societies, chamber choirs, music theatre, contemporary music ensembles, jazz and popular music groups. He is an accomplished performer too – as a singer and saxophonist.

Stuart’s contribution to the arts both locally and throughout the UK is testimony to his incredible commitment and we truly believe he deserves to be recognised with this award. More importantly he has kept a group of women who are desperately missing their weekly rehearsals, laughing, supporting each other and, most of all, singing.



Name of nominee: STIG EVANS – artist

Nominated by: Individual member

The recommendation:

I would like to propose Stig Evans. Stig has worked at Phoenix for many years. Stig does major work for leading architects and private individuals, but has also contributed to outdoor public art interventions and installations in Brighton and Hove.

In addition, he contributes to the historical art heritage of Brighton and Hove by his work for Brighton Museums.

In these many ways, Stig has contributed to the arts in Brighton and Hove in many different capacities.



Name of nominee: DEBORAH ROBERTS – Artistic Director of the Brighton Early Music Festival

Nominated by: Brighton Consort

The recommendation:

Deborah Roberts is the Artistic Director of the Brighton Early Music Festival. She co-founded Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) in 2003, together with Clare Norburn, and has been the sole Artistic Director since 2018. During the last two decades BREMF has gone from strength to strength and has become a major player in the Arts scene in Brighton and Hove. It has also gained national and international recognition in the early music world.

As well as presenting 20–30 high-quality concerts every autumn, BREMF organizes children’s events, adult workshops and schools activities. It also provides a career development path for young professional ensembles under its BREMF Live! scheme. Several of these groups participate in the BREMF Education Programme – sessions presented in primary and secondary schools in the area throughout the year. All these initiatives stem from Deborah’s powerful artistic vision and phenomenal drive.

BREMF has built an audience of loyal followers, many of whom are members of a very successful Friends scheme. In addition many local people participate as volunteers to help organize and run the festival events. Recent audience feedback comments have been very positive – for example “BREMF is very inspirational and opens our eyes and ears to the wide spectrum that ‘early music’ covers, while giving young, talented and enthusiastic performers the opportunity to shine“.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic BREMF has had to adopt a totally different guise in 2020. Deborah has devised a series of online programmes which are being specially recorded, filmed and edited for showing in the autumn (see To support this otherwise unfunded initiative, Deborah herself recently did a sponsored solo 20-mile walk which raised over £4000.

For these many reasons Deborah Roberts is a strong candidate for this award.



Name of nominee: NEIL BORDER, Chairman of the Rottingdean Drama Society

Nominated by: Rottingdean Drama Society

The recommendation:

Neil has been a member of Rottingdean Drama Society for a long time. He has acted in many plays and pantomimes. He is one of the best pantomime Dames I have seen.

Neil has also directed a number of the RDS pantomimes. In recent years we have designed the stage lighting and set it up on all the RDS productions, which is usually four a year. He is always at set build, even if not performing in the production, or helping front of house or being Stage Manager. Neil has been on the committee for many years and Chairman for quite a few. He is also involved in publicity and driving recruitment of new members. Neil is very friendly and has the ability to encourage confident and non-confident members to get the best performance out of them. He is also a very good organiser and methodical planner for what needs to be done to put on a successful production.



Name of nominee: PAUL GREGORY, Artistic Director, Lunchtime Concerts at the Chapel Royal

Nominated by: Lunchtime Concerts at the Chapel Royal

The recommendation:

Paul Gregory, the artistic director of the Lunchtime Concerts at the Chapel Royal (LCCR), has been at the forefront of the movement towards making high-quality music accessible to all in Brighton and Hove over the past 30 years.

This series of concerts was started by the late Father Richard Capstick, Paul Gregory and Peter Sulski. Since then, up to 50 weekly concerts have been held each year and the size of the audience has grown to nearly full capacity each week. As the artistic director on a voluntary basis, Paul puts in enormous amount of time and energy organising the concerts, including booking the artists, designing and making leaflets as well as arranging recitals during the Brighton Fringe Festival. He finds it important to attend the concerts, communicating with the artists and the audience and helping with the concerts on the day.

With his passion and dedication, Paul has built an enthusiastic and loyal audience. The musicians love performing at the Chapel Royal, not only for its beautiful acoustic, but also for the lovely atmosphere and the warm, responsive reception. Many of the artists have been delighted to return to perform again. They range from promising young performers to established musicians playing a wide range of music from classical to jazz.

Paul is a well-known guitarist and cellist performing widely. He taught for the East Sussex Music Service for many years and was the founder of the Brighton Guitar Orchestra. As a composer, Paul was the founder member of the New Music Brighton, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019.

We wish to nominate Paul Gregory for making such a contribution not only to the LCCR for 30 years but to the arts in Brighton and Hove. Paul is truly the tireless, unsung hero behind the scenes.



Name of nominee: KATE ARMES

Nominated by: The Southwick Players

The recommendation:

The Southwick Players are delighted to nominate Kate Armes for the Brighton & Hove Arts Council Outstanding Contribution To The Arts Award 2020.

Kate plays a huge role in enthusiastically supporting and promoting the local not-for-profit arts community as a member of The Brighton & Hove Arts Council Board. Kate’s organisational skills come to the fore when she manages the Annual Drama Awards, which recognise the creative talent of local amateur dramatic societies.

Kate has been an inspiring drama teacher since 1982 at the prestigious Roedean. In 1997, Kate was rewarded with promotion to Head of Drama. The Roedean Theatre was under Kate’s management until her retirement in 2014. Kate has been a Drama Examiner at GCSE and A Level, demonstrating her extensive knowledge of drama understanding.

The English-Speaking Board is a Charity formed to help develop the spoken language. Kate has worked in schools as an examiner for their Spoken English exams across the age range, from reception to senior students.

The Southwick Community Centre exists to support over 50 local clubs and Kate takes an active voluntary role in this thriving community hub. Kate won The Southwick Players ‘Best Director’ and was joint winner for ‘Best Production’ in recognition of her expertise in directing the 2017 production of ‘The Man Who Came To Dinner’. The play had a cast of 20 and an extensive technical team who created a period production with great technical and creative insight. Kate was invited back to direct the highly acclaimed production of ‘The Matchmaker’ in 2019. Kate has also directed for Hurstpierpoint Players.

Kate presented two shows for Seaside Hospital Radio for five years, ‘Feelgood Factor’ and ‘As Time Goes By’, particularly aimed at Senior Citizens and those living with Dementia.