Meet our Team and our Board:
Meet the team and our board who are responsible for the running of the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and the three strands of our work.
For the past thirty years Simon has enjoyed a busy, successful and varied career in the arts. A graduate of the University of Glasgow, the Royal College of Music and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Simon has worked as a classical singer, actor in theatre and TV, musical director and singing teacher with leading UK cultural institutions such as Scottish Opera, Dundee Rep, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, RADA, and the universities of Queen Margaret, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Before joining the festival, Simon was the CEO of the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre on the Isle of North Uist. Previous to that, Simon was the artistic director and CEO of Puppet Animation Scotland, championing puppetry, visual theatre and animation nationally and internationally primarily through the organisation’s two national festivals, the MANIPULATE Festival and the Puppet Animation Festival.
Emma moved to Dumfries & Galloway in 2015 after studying Festival & Event Management at Edinburgh Napier University.
Since graduating, she has taken on a variety of roles in events and marketing development in the tourism, arts and hospitality industry at a national and international level and is also a fully qualified Relational Dynamics Coach.
Emma’s love for performing arts started when she found a home with a local theatre group at a young age and she is passionate about ensuring that everyone has the access to the opportunities that shaped her life and gave her the start that she had.
Javier has lived in Dumfries & Galloway since 2012 and joined the team earlier this year. Before moving to the area, he gained a first class honours in Recording Arts in London and, more recently, a masters in Curatorial Practice from the Glasgow School of Art. Javier has worked in the private sector as well as in arts and heritage, including organisations such as Tramway, Sonica Festival and freelance work for the Summerhall in Edinburgh and the Tolbooth in Stirling.
Having a wide range of experience and interests including music, photography and visual arts, he’s also led photography workshops with For Enjoyment CIC in Dumfries and is passionate about opening opportunities for audiences in Dumfries and Galloway.
Aisling has recently graduated with a First Class Honours in Drama, at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. She now splits her time between the city, and her home region of Dumfries and Galloway. Before her move back to Dumfries, Aisling has worked as a freelance Producer for multiple theatre organisations in Edinburgh including the Edinburgh Footlights, and her own theatre company Veto Theatre. Aisling grew up in Lockerbie, and found her passion for theatre and music through local groups- she now enjoys singing, playing fiddle in a ceilidh band, and performing as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. She is thoroughly enjoying being back in her home town, working for an organisation that brought her so many wonderful opportunities as a younger girl.
Claudia’s early life started in Sanquhar, where she grew up on a hill farm, near Mennock. She was a Police Constable in Dumfries & Galloway for 6 years, before relocating to Wiltshire. After leaving the Police, Claudia studied at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and Royal Conservatoire of Birmingham. She also studied with international operatic tenor Dennis O’Neill CBE, at Wales International Academy of Voice, where her studies were supported by the Mario Lanza Education Foundation & The Kathleen Trust. In 2018, Claudia was awarded The Wagner Society of Scotland’s Bayreuth Scholarship. Whilst living in the South-West of England, Claudia worked as a Schools Cluster Coordinator for Wiltshire Music Connect (the music education hub for Wiltshire), working with teachers to support the development of music-making opportunities for children and young people. She also enjoyed working closely with Celebrating Age Wiltshire, performing in various community settings as part of a county-wide project delivering culture and heritage events and activity in community settings to support the wellbeing of vulnerable older people. Claudia also teaches singing and piano, both privately and in schools. She has experience of leading choirs, music ensembles and teaching classical music.
Lee Medd is a versatile and accomplished professional with a passion for marketing, training and public relations. He currently works as the Group Marketing, Training and Public Relations Manager for Annandale Distillery Group, where he oversees the promotion and development of the company’s products and services across a wide portfolio of sites and brands. He also has a background in business development, having worked with Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce for seven years.
Lee has a wealth of experience in retail training, development and management, having worked with some of the UK’s leading companies such as Signet Group, Woolworths, Safeway Stores, Morrisons, Poundland and Sports Direct. He has expertise in various aspects of marketing and advertising, as well as event management. He is skilled in creating and delivering engaging and effective training programs for staff and customers.
Lee is also a talented and popular radio presenter, hosting the breakfast show on Alive 107.3 every weekday from 7-9am since May 2013. He has also hosted various other shows on the station, covering topics such as news, current events, arts and sports. He has been involved in co-hosting and anchoring live radio coverage of several local events, such as the Doonhame Festival, Stranraer ParkFest music weekend, the Big Burns Supper and the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival. He is a member of the management team of Alive 107.3, a trustee of the Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival and a member of the Dumfries Rotary Club.
Lee is a dedicated and enthusiastic professional who strives to deliver excellence in everything he does. He is always looking for new challenges and opportunities to learn and grow.
Mark has worked in theatres from Aberdeen to Arnhem, doing every job from general manager to ice cream seller, for the last 48 years.
He trained as an actor at The Drama Studio, London, after a degree in English and Theatre from Lancaster University. After ten years as an actor, Mark joined commercial manager Charles Vance as production manager and later General Manager of Harlow Playhouse. Mark has directed, and designed lights and sets, for many shows, and is an enthusiastic veteran of over 50 pantomimes.
During his eight years as Production Manager and member of the senior management team at Oldham Coliseum, Mark supervised over fifty productions and a major refit of the theatre. Mark has an unusual breadth of experience, having worked in subsidised regional producing theatres, commercial No.1 theatre touring, summer repertory, rural & small scale touring, Shakespeare, musicals, open air and promenade theatre, in venues from village halls to Manchester Royal Exchange and the Dutch National Theatre, including many theatres in Scotland, and several shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Mark was General Manager of the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham St Annes and has been in his current post as Director of the Theatre Royal Dumfries for the last seven years. He lives in Moniaive with his actress/director/writer partner Sue McCormick.
Andrea is the award-winning editor of the multi award-winning Dumfries & Galloway Life (current Scottish Magazine of the Year).
A journalist for more than 20 years, she is also a presenter with the Dumfries-based volunteer-run community radio station, Alive 107.3, and has also broadcast for television.
Andrea is passionate about the arts and is proud to be a member of the board of Scotland’s longest-running performing arts festival: the flagship Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival.
She is an active member of The Theatre Royal Guild of Players, as a performer, in PR and having also a served year on the Guild Council. Andrea is also a director of DG Chamber of Commerce, is a double-award- winning advisor with Young Enterprise Scotland, and is involved with and supports numerous local organisations in a voluntary capacity, for which she was recognised by MSP Oliver Mundell, who named her his Local Hero last year.
Catriona was born and raised in Stranraer and graduated from Perth College UHI with an Honours Degree in Popular Music in 2017 before returning to Dumfries and Galloway. She developed a keen interest in Event Management during her time away and volunteered at events such as the Hebridean Celtic Festival and Celtic Connections.
Catriona has been involved with Stranraer Park Fest since 2016, both as a member and manager of the Young Guns Team, and more recently as the full events Creative Producer, bringing the running of the event to Stranraer Music Town Committee, of which she is Chair.
She is Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival’s Stage iT group and is a Tutor for Stranraer Guitar Club Juniors.
As a freelancer, Catriona was employed as Entertainment Coordinator for SkiffieWorlds 2019, planning and developing a weeklong programme featuring music, theatre and dance as part of the World Championship event’s Shoreside Festival. She has recently taken up a commission with DGU as their Youth Arts Advocate.
Catriona has an eclectic taste in music, but as a performer has an interest in Scottish Traditional Music, and in 2017 released her debut album, Òran, as part of her Degree project.
Katy Taylor divides her time between Dumfries and Galloway and Northumberland. She is the Artistic Director of the Queen’s Hall in Hexham, a multipurpose arts-centre with a 360 theatre, studio theatre and 2 gallery spaces. She is an very experience arts programme, with excellent working knowledge of the complexities of touring work and has worked in the rural arts sector for many years.
Katy has experience of supporting emerging artists as well as leading staff teams to deliver excellent art and culture to the public. She is passionate about creating opportunities for young people in the cultural sector.
Sarah Dhesi has been an HR generalist for nearly 20 years. She is currently semi-retired and working for Pioneer Foodservice whose vans can frequently be seen on the roads of Dumfries and Galloway. For thirteen years she constituted the entire HR department however she is now very happy to share the nurturing and support of over 400 employees with her wonderful new boss!
She has been a keen amateur actor since her student days at Strathclyde University where she took part in productions with the award-winning Strathclyde Theatre Group (STG) one of the highlights of which was performing in an adaptation of a George Mackay Brown short story in front of the great man himself in Orkney.
Since moving to Dumfries and Galloway she has performed frequently with Langholm Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (strictly on the dramatic side). Currently she enjoys appearing as the Reader for the Galloway Consort who specialise in the performing of European music from the 15th – 17th centuries on instruments constructed to be historically accurate.
She also enjoys reading and writing.
Luke Welch is a performer and has been based near Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway since 2012. He participated in drama workshops at the Studio Theatre in Moffat from August 2017 until the first Covid lockdown in March 2020 and led and supported sessions for young people aged 5-15 from March-June this year.
Luke is an active member and Assistant Producer for Performance Collective Stranraer, having performed in their ongoing production Bippity, participated in their fifth professional development lab, helped promote their recent show Unsupervised Adulting and he writes their Newsletter once a month.
Luke joined YPG in November 2021 and has been a part of numerous monthly meetings and workshops online and in person. He also aided with stewarding in May this year during the D&G Arts Festival at Bogha Frois, Threads and Sounds of Stage iT. Luke also went on a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the YPG and members of Catstrand Young Creatives in August.