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12 September 2023

Announcing Paul Steele as new CEO/Creative Director

We're pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Steele to the post of CEO/Creative Director in September 2023.

Paul Steele, formerly Director of Partnerships and Community at Sheffield DocFest and Managing Director of Junction Arts brings over 20 years’ experience of strategic development in arts, heritage and digital sectors. During his time at Junction Arts, Paul developed the festivals and events programme comprising two annual outdoor arts festivals and significantly increased the community engagement programme which included launching the flagship projects ‘This Girl Codes’ and ‘Our Place’.

In 2019, we received one of the last large-scale cooperation grants from Creative Europe for our 3-year long Liberty EU programme which focused on young artists and commissioning work across Europe and we were also successful in the application of Arts Council England NPO Funding from 2023-2026.

Paul explained, “Historically, Art Reach has delivered nationally within the UK with a particular focus on Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth and delivered several pan-European projects with partners across the continent. It’s a very exciting time to be joining the team in Leicester as there is such fabulous historical work to build-upon.”

Paul joins the team at the end of the summer during which we have delivered the 13th annual edition of Journeys Festival International, the UK’s first Festival of Sanctuary, and a brand new environmentally themed festival, Re/action Festival. Both festivals deliver a range of outdoor arts performances, live music, exhibitions and installations that address two of the most pertinent issues of our time, the migration crisis and climate crisis.

Paul expanded, “I’ve been with the team for a few weeks now, so it was great to see how they’ve pulled together to deliver two incredible festivals this summer and there’s clearly plenty of goodwill in the city as these festivals worked in partnership with several key organisations in Leicester. There’s a great platform for us to build on here for festival delivery and I’m keen to develop and expand our engagement programme working with the diverse creative communities of Leicester.”

Our consultation team are currently delivering some high-impact initiatives and strategies across the nation that Paul is relishing being a part of, “I love the balance of our approach, I can’t wait to get hands-on with the programme but the consultancy team have been working on some amazing long-term strategies recently too. It is rare to find an organisation that has that 360-degree approach to arts engagement and development. To deliver and programme festivals whilst working on some key strategic development opportunities with partners and clients is a very exciting mix.”

Ali Sinclair, Co-Chair of the Art Reach Board of Trustees added: “We are delighted to give a very warm welcome to Paul as he joins us as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. We know Paul’s previous experience both at strategic level but also with long-term integrated community engagement projects is the balance we need to move forward. Our Board of Trustees is committed to an ambitious vision as the organisation continues to deliver exceptional arts events and cultural strategic development. Paul will join a highly regarded team and we have no doubt he will provide inspirational leadership and forge many new partnerships for the charity.”

A portrait image of Paul Steele. He wears a flat cap and a dark suit.