A tightly packed crowd of people with colourful banners and face paint. In the background a large fox puppet towers above the crowd.
Hi! Street Fest on Wigan’s King Street © Josh Cadogan
Hi! Street Fest on Wigan’s King Street © Josh Cadogan

Reimagining High Streets Conference

A 1-day event exploring regeneration through community-led culture and heritage.

Reimagining High Streets is an exciting 1-day event for those working in the arts, heritage and local authorities to explore how community-led culture and heritage activities can support place-shaping and regeneration. 

Event details
  • When: Tuesday 20 February 2024, 10 am – 4.30 pm
  • Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Price: Free of charge. Booking in advance is essential. Tickets are sold out. To join the waiting list email [email protected] 

Conference theme

The event will draw on the learning from the High Street Heritage Action Zones cultural programme, Historic England's four-year programme to revitalise more than 60 high streets. There will also be speakers from other organisations working with communities to shape local places.  

Hear from a wide variety of individual projects as they present the successes and challenges of delivering community-led engagement with culture and heritage and the impact this work has on local regeneration.   

The day will be made up of panel discussions, interactive workshops and market-place style presentations with speakers from across arts and heritage. Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Network with others working in similar fields
  • Reflect on your own work
  • Seek practical hints and tips
  • Contribute ideas to help projects develop the work further
Programme highlights and timings
  • 9.30 - 10.00
    Registration
  • 10.00 – 10.30
    Welcome and opening speech
    Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns, Historic England
    Lord Mendoza, Chair of Historic England
  • 10.30 – 11.30
    The impact of cultural programmes on our high streets and the people who use them
    Hear from three projects as they describe different elements of cultural programming that contribute to creating a positive impact for our high streets. This chaired session will then be open to questions from the audience.
    Chair: Sukhy Johal, Director, Centre of Culture and Creativity at University of Lincoln
    Speakers:
    Daniel Bernstein, CEO, Emergency Exit Arts
    Sabrina Candido, Culture Development Officer, Plymouth Culture
    Hannah Harris, CEO, Plymouth Culture
    Simon Boase, High Streets Cultural Programme Manager, Historic England
  • 11.30 – 11.45
    Morning break
  • 11.45 – 12.30
    Three breakout parallel curated conversations. Each present 2 case studies, followed by group discussion. Places are limited due to room size.
    • Creative spaces on the high street – how to bring them to life
      This session will explore how spaces on high streets can be used for community engagement, and what outcomes this has for place-shaping and regeneration.
      Speakers:
      Mel Taylor, Head of Learning and Deputy CEO, Greenwich Community Development Association
      Fiona Matthews, Creative Director, Super Culture
    • How heritage and culture unlock wellbeing and pride in place
      This session will look at how cultural and heritage activities have a positive impact on wellbeing. 
      Speakers:
      Tony Mallon, Prescot Photographer in Residence, Picturing High Streets
      Janet Fischer, Live Music Now
    • The potential of culture and heritage to benefit local economies
      This session will explore how culture and heritage activities can support further job creation, skills development, local businesses and strengthen local networks for further partnership working. 
      Speakers:
      Ben Treadaway, Lowestoft Hi! Street Fest Community Producer
      Jonathan Guest, Associate Director, Amion
  • 12.30 – 1.30
    Lunch
    There will be an informal marketplace during lunch where you can find out more about individual cultural programme activities and speak with teams from Historic England and other heritage organisations.
  • 1.30 – 2.00
    Keynote speaker
    Imandeep Kaur, Co-Founder and Director, Civic Square
  • 2.00 – 2.45
    Campfire conversations exploring the practicalities of working across culture, heritage and regeneration
    Informal get-togethers where you will explore different themes with your fellow delegates. Themes will be confirmed when you arrive at the event
  • 2.45 – 3.00
    Afternoon break
  • 3.00 – 4.00
    What’s next? How to grow the culture and heritage offer where you are
    Hear from three projects as they share how they’ve taken activities and developed them further, with a particular focus on sharing practical learning and top tips on how to do this. This chaired session will then be open to questions from the audience.
    Chair: Cathy Parker, Institute of Place Management.
    Speakers:
    Vicky Holbrough, Co-founder and Director, Navigator North
    Gaye Kirby, Creative Programmes and Partnership Manager, Middlesbrough Council
    Lucy Norton, Well-Placed Project Manager, The Art House
    Imogen Robertson, Strategic Programmes Manager, Medway Council
  • 4.00 – 4.30
    Closing remarks and performance from poet RM Francis 

Important information

Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Please let us know of any dietary requirements when booking.

Filming and flash photography will be taking place during the event. Please let a member of staff know when you arrive at the event if you do not want to be featured. Photographs and film footage will be used for Historic England’s marketing purposes, online and in print.

Travel 

Birmingham Hippodrome is within walking distance of New Street Station and Moor Street Station. Getting to Bimingham Hippodrome

We have some resources available for need-based travel support so please let us know of your requirements when you book your place.

Any queries, please contact our team using the email address below.

Book now

Speaker biographies

Name and role
Name

Daniel Bernstein

Title and organisation
Chief Executive Officer at Emergency Exit Arts
Details
Description
Daniel Bernstein is the CEO of Emergency Exit Arts (EEA) who “enhance places, enable people and astonish audiences”. He was Executive Producer of Historic England’s largest commission, Hi! Street Fest. Daniel is a professional producer working in the arts, and has been co-creating work with communities for over 25 years. In previous lives, he has played, performed and managed carnival troupe Carnival Collective; developed numerous carnival events; and worked for Arts Council England. Before his journey in the arts, he worked for The Body Shop, setting up new franchises and shops. Hi! Street Fest perfectly combined his previous career in high street retail and franchising, with creating spectacular participatory events that have social impact, and lasting legacy.

Name and role
Name

Simon Boase

Title and organisation
High Streets Cultural Programme Manager at Historic England
Details
Description
Simon Boase is Cultural Programme Manager at Historic England. In this role he has been leading on the delivery of the High Street Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme. This is a £7.5 million national grants and commissioning scheme running across 4 years, one of the largest ever community-led arts and heritage programmes in England. He has a background in curating and arts production, including developing meanwhile space programmes for artists and creatives in the north of England.

Name and role
Name

Sabrina Candido

Title and organisation
Culture Development Officer at Plymouth Culture
Details
Description
Sabrina Candido is an arts and cultural professional with specialism in project management with over 20 years' experience working across significant and diverse international projects in Brazil and the UK, strategic partnerships, executive production and curatorship. Since joining Plymouth Culture in 2020, Sabrina's focus has been on supporting the growth and sustainability of Plymouth’s arts and culture sector. She is mostly interested in contributing to projects that promote the exchange of knowledge, social transformation, and in working towards the construction of a collaborative network of creative professionals around the world.  

Name and role
Name

Harriet Clarke

Title and organisation
Creative Programmes Assistant at Historic England
Details
Description
Since 2020, Harriet Clarke has supported the delivery of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme for Historic England. Her role assists in the smooth running of artist commissions, programming and exhibitions devised by the creative programmes team. She has a background in theatre design and holds a Master's degree in Arts and Cultural Management from King's College London.

Name and role
Name

Janet Fischer

Title and organisation
Chief Executive Officer at Live Music Now UK
Details
Description
Janet Fischer began her career as an operatic soprano and folk violinist, performing across the UK, Europe, Asia, and North America, including a 2-year stint in the West End cast of The Phantom of the Opera. Janet is an experienced executive of cultural organisations, educator, and strategy consultant. Janet has worked with organisations across Europe and Latin America in both the commercial and cultural sectors, and now mentors the next generation of socially conscious entrepreneurs as the Applied Learning Curator for the Global Leaders Institute. In addition to her work using music to effect transformative social change at Live Music Now, Janet is the Vice-Chair of Connectivity for Creative Medway, and the Co-Chair of the Old High Street Intra Cultural Consortium, championing and celebrating the rich cultural heritage and social regeneration of the Medway towns.

Name and role
Name

Jonathan Guest

Title and organisation
Associate Director at Amion
Details
Description
Jonathan Guest is an Associate Director in the Regeneration and Evaluation team with over 15 years of consultancy experience in a range of economic analysis, policy and strategic planning projects. He has managed projects for a number of public and private sector organisations including government departments, local authorities, combined authorities, universities, local enterprise partnerships, and the private sector. His work spans a wide variety of economic development activities covering inclusion, innovation, skills and employment, regeneration and infrastructure. Prior to working at Amion, Jonathan worked at South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and led the Policy Team on a wide range of major policy, research and analytical projects, including leading the development of the strategic economic plan. At Amion, he has managed a number of high profile projects including the economic impact of Eurovision in Liverpool and the evaluation of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones. Jonathan’s academic background is in economic geography. He brings a passion for how place, economy and people interact to his work.

Name and role
Name

Hannah Harris

Title and organisation
Chief Executive Officer at Plymouth Culture
Details
Description
Hannah Harris has a background in cultural development and management, with a strong focus on partnership working within the cultural sector. Hannah joined Plymouth Culture from the Arts University Plymouth in 2019, where she was the Director of Development specialising in strategic planning, partnership development and externally funded projects. Since 2019 Hannah has authored the 10-year Culture Plan for Plymouth and championed work to make the creative and cultural sector in Plymouth vibrant, visible and accessible.  

Name and role
Name

Ellen Harrison

Title and organisation
Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns at Historic England
Details
Description
Ellen Harrison has worked for Historic England since 2010. Her work focuses on public programming, exhibitions and artist commissions to help a broad range of people positively connect with community and place, improving their wellbeing, contributing to regeneration and quality of life in the process. She directs a series of high profile programmes, including the largest ever publicly funded community-led arts and heritage programme, the High Street Cultural Programme; History in the Making, a national youth-led heritage programme that invites young people to celebrate local history in meaningful ways; and the National Blue Plaques scheme which is expanding the famous London programme across England.  Ellen’s background is in campaigns, communications and public engagement. She is a trustee at Arnolfini, Bristol. She is an alumni of the prestigious Oxford Cultural Leaders programme and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Name and role
Name

Vicky Holbrough

Title and organisation
Co-founder and Director at Navigator North 
Details
Description
Vicky Holbrough, who uses she/her, is a co-founder and director of artist-led visual arts organisation Navigator North which has been developing and supporting visual artists and creative communities in the Tees Valley region since 2011. This is done through a focus on the development of publicly accessible creative spaces, artist studios, cultural and professional development programmes, placemaking work and public art commissioning. Navigator North has led on Middlesbrough’s High Street Heritage Action Zone cultural programme and delivered its community engagement programme working with the local authority. As an artist, Vicky has a visual arts practice spanning over 20 years, including participatory projects, commissions and residencies. These have included several public art commissions in Tees Valley and County Durham. She is one of four artists who make up blimey! - a female led Darlington based artist collective.

Name and role
Name

Imandeep Kaur

Title and organisation
Co-Founder and Director at Civic Square
Details
Description
Civic Square is a public square, neighbourhood lab, and creative and participatory platform focused on regenerative civic and social infrastructure within neighbourhoods. Imandeep Kaur is part of a creative and dynamic leadership team working alongside the local neighbourhood, to offer a bold approach to visioning, building and investing in civic infrastructure for neighbourhoods of the future. She is also an active member of Project 00, the Resourcing Racial Justice Coalition, and the National Lottery Community Fund Advisory Fund. Immy is a member of the Doughnut Economics Action Lab Advisory Team, a Birmingham Hippodrome Trustee, a Birmingham Open Media (BOM) Board Member and an Inclusive Economy Partnership Board Champion. Immy was a founding director of Impact Hub Birmingham, which was open between 2015 to 2019. Impact Hub Birmingham was on a mission to help build a fairer, more equal and just city, through people, place and open movements.

Name and role
Name

Gaye Kirby

Title and organisation
Creative Programmes and Partnership Manager at Middlesbrough Council 
Details
Description
Gaye Kirby leads the Culture Service at Middlesbrough Council including oversight of several venues (town hall, theatre, museums and archives) plus an Events and Festivals team.  She works closely with the Middlesbrough Cultural Partnership to support the growth of the sector in Middlesbrough and embed culture into different service areas such as regeneration, public health and adult social care.  In September 2023, the Cultural Partnership launched its 10-year Creative Vision for Middlesbrough with an ambition of making Middlesbrough the most creative town in the UK.    Prior to joining the council, Gaye was Head of Development at Durham Cathedral where she led several strategic developments including a major National Lottery Heritage Fund-funded project to transform access to the cathedral’s buildings and collections, including the creation of a new museum.  Gaye is currently the Chair of Trustees at Rural Arts; an Arts Council NPO that delivers inspiring and inclusive creative opportunities that enrich lives and connect communities across North Yorkshire. 

Name and role
Name

Sukhy Johal MBE

Title and organisation
Director for the Centre of Culture and Creativity at University of Lincoln
Details
Description
Sukhy Johal has over 30 years of experience across the Midlands region in a range of senior roles, with a strong affinity and understanding of the cultural ecology and the wider regional development agenda. As Chief Executive Officer of Culture East Midlands, the region’s Cultural Consortium, Sukhy supported the development of the sector and established large scale transformative projects like ‘Igniting Ambition’ the region’s Cultural Olympiad programme and devising regional cultural and heritage policy. He chaired the HSHAZ cultural programme for Lincoln, conceiving the approach and developing an innovative programme with the local authority and strategic partners. He has a depth of experience in local government across the full spectrum of cultural services and economic development and planning. In the private sector, he has extensive experience forging partnerships, founding organisations, drafting policy and generating funds from investors. Sukhy has a track record of advocating and championing the social and catalytic power of culture, with a particular interest in supporting cultural diversity and social enterprise.

Name and role
Name

Tony Mallon

Title and organisation
Photographic Artist
Details
Description
Tony Mallon is a Merseyside-based photographic artist who has nearly 30 year’s experience of delivering socially-engaged art projects. His work has been exhibited in galleries, public spaces and photography festivals including the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool and Unseen Amsterdam. He has a passion and a desire to connect and collaborate with people who are usually excluded from participating in and producing art. His work also focuses on people and place, and how communities define themselves. He recently completed a 2-year art residency for Historic England’s Picturing High Streets.

Name and role
Name

Fiona Matthews

Title and organisation
Creative Director at Super Culture
Details
Description
Fiona Matthews is Creative Director of Super Culture, an arts organisation dedicated to growing an ambitious, playful and inclusive creative culture in North Somerset. Super Culture enables local communities to connect, get creative and take a lead in shaping their local cultural provision through award-winning festivals, events, partnerships and live performance, creative talent development, and a year-round participation programme. Super Culture began life as Theatre Orchard, a charitable organisation that Fiona co-founded in 2007, and that became North Somerset's first Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation in 2018. Fiona's previous roles include Arts Development Officer for North Somerset Council, freelance arts producer and national Arts Sponsorship Manager for J Sainsbury plc. Common to all of these roles has been a commitment to making life feel better by enabling outstanding creative and cultural experiences to be accessible and relevant to all.

Name and role
Name

Lord Neil Mendoza

Title and organisation
Chair at Historic England
Details
Description
Lord Neil Mendoza was appointed Chair of Historic England from 1 September 2023. Lord Mendoza was appointed Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, in 2018, following a career building business in the creative and finance sectors. He was previously the government’s Commissioner for Culture and also chaired the Culture and Heritage Capital Board at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Prior to that, he served 4 years as a non-executive director at DCMS. He is Chair of The Illuminated River Foundation, Chair of Civic Future and on the board of the Ashmolean Museum. He is a member of the House of Lords. Prior to joining Oriel College, he led the year-long Mendoza Review of Museums in England on behalf of DCMS (2016-17). He was also Chair of Children and the Arts, Vice Chair of Soho Theatre, and Chair of The Landmark Trust (2011-2021). He is an advocate of building and supporting talent, creativity and enterprise through high quality educational, cultural and heritage engagement.

Name and role
Name

Lucy Norton

Title and organisation
Well-Placed Project Manager at The Art House
Details
Description
Lucy Norton is an arts producer based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Her work is focused on space management, youth engagement, supporting emerging artists and working with communities. Since returning to Wakefield after university in 2013, Lucy has been passionate about making her city a vibrant place for young creatives to live and work. She now works at The Art House managing off-site spaces, this includes working closely with artists and community groups to provide them with support and space as well as producing exhibitions and events. The Art House's off-site space project, Well Placed, is now expanding to new sites across the country, connecting like-minded property owners and creatives, bringing vacant high street spaces back into use and regenerating them through meaningful community partnerships.

Name and role
Name

Professor Cathy Parker

Title and organisation
Chair at Institute of Place Management 
Details
Description
Cathy Parker is Professor of Retail and Marketing Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan University and Chair of the Institute of Place Management, the professional institute for all those involved in making better places. Cathy is regarded as an international expert and leader in place management and is the research lead for the government’s High Streets Task Force. She is frequently asked to commentate on place and retail related topics and has appeared on BBC Newsnight, BBC Breakfast, BBC Sunday Politics (NW), BBC Radio 5 live and ITV Tonight.  Cathy was the Principal Researcher and Director for two £3.5 million+ EU part-funded projects. AGORA, which aimed to bring the principles of social enterprise to town and other place management partnerships and REN, which aimed to promote and protect diversity in the independent retail sector. Cathy has been an academic advisor and contributor to the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Town Centre Management.

Name and role
Name

Imogen Robertson

Title and organisation
Strategic Programmes Manager at Medway Council
Details
Description
Imogen Robertson is Strategic Programmes Manager at Medway Council where her work focuses on cultural sector strategy and development. Imogen was previously Bid Director for Medway’s 2025 UK City of Culture bid and Executive Producer (Public Engagement and Learning) at Imperial War Museums. She has a background as a producer and general manager in theatre where she regularly collaborated with heritage organisations and attractions including The National Trust and Madame Tussauds. Imogen has a particular interest in interactive work, engaging audiences with contemporary issues and historic contexts. Imogen also works as a freelance cultural consultant and is a board member of the Institute of Culture and Creative Industries at the University of Kent.

Name and role
Name

Dr Tamsin Silvey

Title and organisation
Cultural Programme Curator at Historic England
Details
Description
Tamsin Silvey is Cultural Programme Curator at Historic England, where, since 2015, she has worked commissioning artists, curating exhibitions and developing a cultural programme. She curates the national commissions programme of the nationwide High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme and is exhibition curator for Picturing High Streets, one of the flagship commissions documenting a year in the life of the high street through mass public participation and artist residencies. Tamsin has PhD in the History of Art from Birkbeck interrogating how conflict photographs have been curated within temporary exhibitions at British institutions from 2010-20.

Name and role
Name

Mel Taylor

Title and organisation
Head of Learning and Deputy CEO at Greenwich Community Development Association
Details
Description
Mel Taylor, a devoted community advocate, has spent 15 years at the Greenwich Community Development Association (GCDA), a charitable organization dedicated to reducing inequality and supporting communities to thrive. Serving as the Head of Learning and Deputy CEO, Mel has overseen numerous projects, impacting diverse communities. Managing the adult learning contract, they deliver educational programs to over 1,700 learners annually. Mel played a pivotal role in shaping the inclusive and welcoming environment of the Woolwich Front Room, fostering community engagement since its inception. She fosters empathy and a genuine commitment to community well-being.

Name and role
Name

Ben Treadaway

Title and organisation
Freelance Community Producer
Details
Description
Ben Treadaway, who uses they, is a freelance Community Producer with a focus on young people and communities in East Anglia. A Co-Director of the Flock Creatives Network, they have a focus on platforming fellow young people and promoting equity of access in creative opportunities through facilitation of workshops, the organisation and production of community events, and socio-political advocacy. Since graduating from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in 2022, they have worked in multiple settings alongside many different arts and cultural organisations, such as Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Creative Arts East and, of course, working alongside Sarah Mccluskey and Heather Cook as Community Producers for 'Hi Street Fest!' and the First Light Festival. Currently, Ben is working in tandem with Suffolk County Council as a member of the council's Creative Health Working Group, developing a diverse forum of young voices from Suffolk.

Name and role
Name

Finn White

Title and organisation
Participation Manager at Historic England
Details
Description
Finn is Participation Manager at Historic England. He has worked in museums and heritage for over 10 years where he has co-produced exhibitions, projects and learning programmes with underrepresented communities and young people. He advocates for change within the sector and runs programmes that put youth and community voice at the centre of decision-making. Finn also runs and promotes social prescribing within arts and heritage. He currently oversees Historic England’s History in the Making programme, manages a panel of young advisers and develops new participatory programmes.

Supported by

HM Government
Heritage Fund logo
Arts Council

Cultural Programme