Board of Directors


Simon is the Human Resources Leader for Proctor & Gamble Newcastle Innovation Centre. He is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Newcastle Council for Voluntary Services, has previously Chaired the Board of Trustees of Tyneside Cinema and also Chaired the North Tyneside Regeneration Partnership. Through these roles he has insight into the challenges that face the Arts today and in future - and has a track record of Governance in meeting those challenges.

As importantly for him, his family have been actively involved in participation at Northern Stage for many years and through that he has a passion for the participation work of the theatre. Simon is an avid theatre-goer, both in Newcastle and beyond, and has (by his reckoning) attended the Edinburgh Fringe for over 40 years (he was born there, started young...) and seen over 500 shows on it. He even appeared on it, many years ago.



Jo is a Barrister at Trinity Chambers providing the Board with legal knowledge, including expertise in employment legislation and operation; advocacy and presentation skills. Jo also has an understanding of the specific art of theatre and its role in the wider cultural landscape through a previous career directing in theatre.

Jo believes that great theatre should be inspirational, aspirational and inclusive, all of which she regularly experiences at Northern Stage. Whilst she no longer works in the industry she has an understanding of it from the inside. Jo feels that this aspect, combined with the skills she uses as a barrister, could be put to work to assist Northern Stage into the future.


Laura is the Head of Studio National Theatre. As a theatre producer, Laura's passion is about bringing together great artists to make unforgettable theatrical experiences for the audience. With the belief that everybody is a creative individual, Laura's interest is in producing the perfect environment in which this creativity can thrive.

It is a huge privilege for Laura to be on the Board of this incredibly distinguished and inventive 21st Century theatre. "Northern Stage is loved by audiences and artists in Newcastle, the UK, and from around the world."

John is the Associate Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House where he is on the team planning the artistic strategy and production plans for the Royal Opera. As a stage director, John has worked in theatres across Europe and is passionate about making work which is both entertaining and challenging. John brings to the board experience of large-scale cultural organisations. He is a huge supporter of Northern Stage's work as both a local theatre and a significant national stage, and he wants to assist Northern Stage in becoming even more central to both the culture of the North East and the UK.


Charles spent 20 years with Procter & Gamble and then Deloitte in marketing and management consultancy roles in Newcastle, London and Nairobi. For the past nine years, he has been the Head of Marketing at Sintons, a leading law firm in the region. He read Geography at Oxford University, is married to Claire, and they have four grown up children.

As well as his recent involvement in Northern Stage, Charles serves on the steering group of St George's Church in Jesmond where he also sings in the choir. He was previously a non-exec director of an organic food business in Northumberland, chaired the local fundraising committee for Children's International Summer Villages and has been involved in the £7 million bursary campaign at Newcastle Royal Grammar School.

Cllr DAN PERRY, Observer

Dan is originally from London, studied Mechanical Engineering at Newcastle University and was able to settle in Newcastle after a national graduate training scheme. Dan works full time as a mechanical engineer in the power industry.

Dan has had an increasing interest in the theatre over the last 5 years, having enjoyed many fantastic productions at Northern Stage and Live Theatre. He was elected in May 2015 as Labour Councillor in North Jesmond, his home ward, and was interested to join this committee as an observer as his council work is very focused on Jesmond and he wanted to be involved with something city-wide. Additionally, Dan knows how terrible an impact the government austerity programme has been for local authorities and services and he wanted to see the challenges similarly faced by the arts and if possible, to do what he can to help and try to keep things accessible.


Keith is the ICAEW Regional Director for Scotland and the Northern region. In this role he is charged with representing the interests of over 4,500 chartered accountant members who work in many different roles and industries. Keith brings financial and business skills developed through training, running courses for local members and in previous roles. A particular skill that he believes he brings to the Board is in explaining financial statements to non-financial people.

Keith's whole family have many wonderful memories of Northern Stage performances going back to Flora Robson Playhouse days and Keith feels it's good to be able to contribute to the continuation of this.


Professor Julie Sanders is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of English at Newcastle University. She is an English Literature and Drama specialist with an international reputation in early modern literature and in adaptation studies. She obtained her first degree in English at Cambridge University and then went on to study for a Masters and a PhD at the University of Warwick, during which time she studied on exchange at Ca'Foscari in Venice and at UC Berkeley.

Her first lectureship was at Keele University in 1995 and she then joined the University of Nottingham as Chair of English Literature and Drama in 2004. At Nottingham she was head of the school of English from 2010-13 and then seconded for two years to their Ningbo China joint venture campus as Vice Provost (Teaching and Learning) where she helped launch the AHRC's first centre in China focussing on Digital Copyright and IT research. In 2012, Julie was awarded the British Academy's Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for international women's scholarship, and she has a strong track record in cross-disciplinary research and international collaboration.


Jean-Pierre is a partner with Newcastle commercial law Square One Law. He is an experienced employment lawyer dual qualified in the UK and South Africa and recognised by Chambers guide to the legal profession as a leading individual in this field. His clients include fellow lawyers, senior executives, owner managed business and larger commercial businesses such as Piramal Healthcare UK Ltd, Esso Petroleum Company Ltd and Newcastle Building Society.

Jean-Pierre believes he brings his experience of managing and developing a commerical business and of managing staff. He has a keen interest in performing arts and wishes to ensure that organisations like Northern Stage remain relevant and sustainable.

, Trustee

Michael Knowles is a BAFTA nominated film and television producer working in Derbyshire. He has produced 6 feature length films over the last 6 years. 

Michael is commited to working with and developing new (and established) talent from writers to directors to actors - and to bringing talent from outside of London to the attention of the wider public (and also getting Londoners out of London!) This is clearly where there is a synergy with Northern Stage. Michael is also keen to explore the links between theatre and film particularly in relation to emerging talent.


TIM SMITH, Trustee

Tim teaches Design, Engineering and Media Production at Prudhoe Community High School in Northumberland. Over his 20 year career he has been a consistent proponent of creative learning in a wide variety of settings. As well as High schools, Tim as worked in First, Middle, Special Schools and Secure Units on a range of projects. He is a board member of Fuse Media Centre CIC, which works with commercial, community and educational groups across the North East. A community cinema isi based at Fuse Media Centre and organises weekly screenings. 

Tim is a long-time friend and supporter of Northern Stage. Many of his own early theatre experiences - and those of his two children - were the amazing Northern Stage family shows at Christmas. A long-term Edinburgh Fringe fan, he now supports the drama staff at his school who have taken a group of sixth form performers up to stage a show every other year since 2008. Tim is committed to providing the widest range of opportunities to discover and participate in theatre, on stage and backstage. 

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