window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date());gtag('config', 'UA-26725424-1');

Who we are

//Who we are
Who we are2019-01-29T09:08:03+00:00

Sarah Thornton, Artistic Director

Sarah Thornton is founding Artistic Director of Collective Encounters.  She established the company to make exciting, collaborative theatre and explore its potential to contribute to social change.  Her work with the company has drawn on her varied background which over the past 20 years has included applied work in diverse community contexts, developing and directing fringe and professional theatre, university lecturing and practice-as-research. As Artistic Director, Sarah works collaboratively with the Executive Director to oversee the company’s overall strategic direction.

Sarah [at]

Annette Burghes, Executive Director

As Executive Director Annette is responsible for the strategic direction of the organization as well as day-to-day operations. Annette has worked with Collective Encounters since its inception in 2005 playing a key role in its evolution and growth. Annette studied Arts Administration at London Metropolitan University and has an honours degree in Law from the College of Law. Prior to Collective Encounters Annette worked as General Manager for Graeae Theatre Company and as the Director of Camden’s largest community centre Highgate Newtown. Annette has also acted as a business development consultant for numerous arts and community organisations.

Annette [at]

Harriet Warnock, General Manager

Harriet studied Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Hull before moving to London where she worked at Arcola Theatre, as Box Office Manager and at The National Theatre, in both the Marketing and Tours & Information departments. She has a Masters degree in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths. She returned to Liverpool after a year traveling and has been working at Collective Encounters since September 2015.

Harriet [at]

Abi Horsfield, Youth Theatre and Other Theatres Director (Associate)

Abi Horsfield is a community theatre/arts professional with over 25 years experience of theatre facilitation, performance and project management. Her long career has seen her deliver workshops across 300 projects in 27 challenging countries such as Ghana, Thailand, Uzbekistan, the Philippines and Nigeria.

Abi [at]

Ben Mellor, Youth Theatre Director

Ben studied English & Drama at the University of Manchester and prior to joining Collective Encounters worked for over ten years as a freelance writer, performer and educator. As a facilitator and director he has worked with a wide range of young people and adults from a variety of backgrounds in schools, colleges, universities, theatres, youth centres and prisons. He has delivered workshops and projects for venues and organisations such as Apples & Snakes, Contact, The Lowry, The Royal Exchange, Manchester Literature Festival and Shakespeare Schools Festival.

Ben [at]

Emerging Artist Training Manager (to be appointed)

Denise Kennedy, Artist (Associate)

Denise is a writer/performer based in Liverpool with a background that includes a Masters degree in Writing from Liverpool John Moore’s University and the Playwright’s Programme at Liverpool’s Everyman/Playhouse. She has worked with Collective Encounters as a facilitator for over 4 years, delivering outreach workshops and performance with the Transitions group and, most recently, skills development workshops with the Youth Theatre.  Denise is currently working with the Youth Theatre as support artist on the Political Theatre Writing Course.

Aidan Jolly, Lead Artist (Associate)

Aidan is a singer, song-writer and performer. He regularly collaborates with writers, filmmakers, theatre companies, choirs and communities to create cross artform performances, most recently with B-Arts in Stoke-On-Trent (‘Down To The Roots’ CD and a series of outdoor and site specific performances in 2010, 2011 and 2013), and Virtual Migrants (at the Arnolfini, Bristol, in 2009, curated by Platform, in Manchester at the Anthony Burgess Foundation in 2010, and at the Club Row Gallery, London, in 2011). He has toured extensively in the UK and abroad.

We also employ a wide range of associate artists, technicians and project staff on a project-by-project basis.

Our trustees are:  Jim Johnson (Chair), Anna Jones (Vice-Chair), Mike Eccles (Treasurer), Professor Eric Weitz, Graham Boxer, Rachael Hankin, and Jamie Beddard.

All can be contacted through

Is there anything wrong with this page?

  • Skip to content