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We have really enjoyed using St Mary's for our concerts. It fits the bill on so many levels, offering great acoustics, plenty of flexibility of presentation and a central location - with plenty of nearby parking. We're very excited to see its use develop and I'm sure our audiences feel the same! Will Shaw, Chairman - Chester Operatic Society

About the St Mary’s Team

St Mary’s bookings are supported by the Qwest Workplace Solutions Team. Overall administration is overseen by the User Group, a team elected by the users of St Mary’s.

St Mary’s User Group Vision and Aims

St Mary’s vision is to be an independent venue that supports the cultural offer and cultural development of Chester, its communities, cultural organisations and audiences through hires and programming and partnership across the city and region.
· To encourage and improve cultural use of the building by local cultural organisations
· To develop programming of the venue to support audience development
· To develop and improve the venue, its facilities and processes for hirers and audiences
· To embody a sense of user and community ownership
· For the building to be owned and loved by the community and its users
· To act as an incubation space for the performing arts eg young / new companies / techs
· To complement the work of and partner other cultural venues in the city
The User Group
Matt trained both as a teacher and as a creative artist. He is a composer, musical director and performer based in Chester. His work in the city includes his role as Artistic Director of Theatre in the Quarter as well as Musical Director of A Handbag of Harmonies. He has also been composer of the last three cycles of Chester Mystery Plays. Matt’s scope as freelance artist combined with these positions has enabled him to develop partnerships with many individuals and arts organisations in the borough. Further afield, Matt has been composer for several theatres around the UK, musical director for the International Schools Theatre Association and for many high profile corporate events and conferences in the UK and Ireland. He has several television and theatre acting credits to his name.

In his spare time, Matt is co-chair of the Garden Quarter Community Association and joint choir master/organist at St Thomas of Canterbury Church.
Biography coming soon.
Steph was born and bred in Chester and was a member and later staff member of the Gateway Youth Theatre from 1998 till the theatre's closure in 2007. In 2009 she set up Minerva Arts with another local artist to develop more opportunities for young people in Cheshire West and Chester to engage with the arts with a particular focus on contemporary arts practices. In 2011 they took over Off the Ground Youth Theatre's Chester group which had been set up to take on the young people who had still been members at the Gateway when the theatre closed. Since then the group has expanded and Minerva Arts now runs four Youth Theatre across Cheshire West as well as having been funded by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund for stand-alone projects. Steph is also a graduate and PhD student at the University of Chester and works freelance for arts organisations across the North West including Peshkar and Curious Minds.

Phil Cross is a theatre maker and event organiser based in Chester and Ellesmere Port. He trained as an actor and worked for years in London, teaching, performing, directing and producing across multiple platforms. Including a stint as children's director on Oliver! and The Lion King in the West End.  

After moving back to Chester Phil joined the board of directors for Tip Top productions, who he performed with as a child, and founded Chester Wizard School, an immersive halloween event for families. Day to day he is Associate Director at Theatre Porto a specialist producing Children's Theatre in Ellesmere Port.
Paul has been a member of Chester Operatic Society since 1997. In addition to singing and acting in many shows and concerts, he is a past chairman having served on the committee for many years and been responsible for organising the production and marketing of many events. He is keen that people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to make use of the facilities that St Mary's Creative Space offers.
Emma Knight represents Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Arts Team.

Emma’s team want to support the shared aim of increasing professional and community arts use of the St Mary’s Creative Space.

This project supports the aims of the Cultural Strategy, and the team hopes to lever additional support and advice from partners of and colleagues within the Council to support St Mary’s Creative Space and the aims of the user group. Emma will be able to act as a link between colleagues and the user group, to feedback to them and consult on updates to the user agreements etc. She can also support relationships and links with other buildings and organisations where appropriate, e.g. Brio run venues.
Born and educated in Chester, Rose has been involved with its arts and culture from an early age, and is committed to helping it develop a credible offer as a ‘city of culture’.

An enthusiastic member of her school choir, Rose was concurrently one third of a popular acoustic trio, performing regionally, and appearing on BBC television. She was a peripatetic instrumental teacher for the former Cheshire County Council Education Department, before studying a combined honours degree in History and Psychology at the University of Chester. She became an editor across diverse regional and international publishing contexts (including arts reviews and Chester Summer Music Festival coverage). Rose is also a well-regarded solo performer and collaborator on the North West acoustic music scene and in her casual capacity as event creator/promoter, SoundBox.
David Woods is chairman of Chester Music Society and has been involved with the Music Society since 2003, initially with the Youth Choirs but for the last 5 years with the overall society. He also chairs the Cheshire West Voluntary Arts Network; a networking organisation of over 60 arts organisations across Cheshire West. Its role is to facilitate information sharing across groups and to provide a voice to the statutory bodies on the importance of the voluntary arts in the borough. He happily retired from the University of Manchester, where he was Associate Dean for External Relationships in 2007. Prior to that he spent 25 years in variety of Senior roles in the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside. He is committed to bringing a wider group of users into the centre and enhancing the building.
Acting Auditions