Wendy O'ConnorExecutive Director
Wendy is an emerging artist who has developed her practice though our educational pathway. She is currently studying with Italia Conti enhancing her facilitation and business in the arts skills. She has a passion for making theatre in social settings and advocates for disability rights and women’s rights, focusing on invisible disabilities and women who have experienced domestic abuse.

Having begun in Collective Encounters’ educational pathway a few years ago, the team has empowered Wendy to progress and upskill to become Collective Encounters’ new Executive Director, where she looks forward to continue to work alongside a fantastic team of creatives and a wonderful board of Trustees.

Patrick HughesProgramme Co-ordinator
Patrick is an award-winning playwright, dramaturg, workshop leader and administrator with a passion for championing northwest voices and stories. Patrick got his first start in Collective Encounters a decade ago and subsequently went on to work at National Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith and Box of Tricks Theatre. Patrick is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and has an MA in Creative Writing at University of East Anglia. Returning to Collective Encounters as Programme Coordinator, Patrick is thrilled to be back supporting and developing events and programmes that make real and tangible change in this city and beyond.
Abi HorsfieldCo-artistic director (creative communities)
Abi is a Co-Artistic Director – Creative Communities, she leads on the Community Outreach Projects and Directs the Adult Theatre for Social Change Company, Community Chronicles.
She is a neurodivergent facilitator, writer, director, performer, and activist who has been working in community arts for over 35 years across several continents. She loves working with people and thinks that everyone has a story that need to be told and heard and theatre has the capacity to change. She currently lives in Toxteth with her son and cat, she loves performing at festivals and dancing to ABBA in her kitchen.
Tessa BuddleCo-artistic director (women & youth)
*Currently on maternity leave until January 2025.*
Tessa is a director, writer, and participatory theatre maker with a background in acting and performance. As the lead for Collective Encounters’ Women and Youth programmes, Tessa implements participatory theatre activities that benefit the lives of women, families, and young people in Liverpool City Region. Tessa gained her BA in Theatre Studies from Lancaster University, then moved to Liverpool and trained as a physical theatre performer with Hope Street Limited. Since then, she has worked with a range of companies including 20 Stories High, Lantern Company, People Show, Talking Birds, Surge and The Suitcase Ensemble. Tessa also has a MA in Contemporary Arts from Manchester Metropolitan University, and a PhD from the University of Glasgow.
Aidan JollyCo-artistic director (research)
Aidan is a researcher in the fields of social policy, creativity, and performance. In 2022 he was awarded a Masters by Research from Edge Hill University and began a PhD in October 2022, investigating how local communities are developing creative strategies for transitioning to a society based on principles of social, racial and climate justice. He has a specific interest in Trauma Informed Practice.
Prior to the Pandemic, his work focussed on creative and collective music and performance making, taking inspiration from world-wide cultural movements, and the history, identity and undocumented stories of particular communities and environments. He has worked with Collective Encounters since 2012 on projects relating to mental health (‘Other Ways Of Telling’), homelessness, and with veterans (‘Out Of Service’). He has more than 30 years’ experience as an artist and an activist.
Marianne MatuszCo-artistic director (sector development; women & youth)
Marianne is a freelance participatory theatre maker, facilitator, and project manager. Working with diverse communities across the North of England, she uses theatre as a lens through which we can dare to see ourselves, each other, and the world differently. She has delivered projects across many settings, including mainstream and alternative education, community venues, refugee centres, frontline mental health services and residential care settings in addition to traditional theatres. She has a Master’s Degree in Applied Theatre and Intervention from the University of Leeds. For Collective Encounters Marianne leads the Centre for Excellence in Participatory Theatre – a virtual space for learning, debate and exchange for anyone interested in participatory theatre and community arts.
Marianne is currently overseeing Collective Encounters’ women & youth programmes as maternity cover.
Michelle RichardsAssociate Lead Artist
Michelle is a creative arts therapist and community artist. Her route to this work was defined by her combined interest in the arts, mental well-being, and health promotion. She studied a degree in Psychology and Health Studies then went on to train as a Drama Therapist. After this, she worked within Social Services in several roles including work with looked after young people, roles in mental health development and health promotion.
In recent years her work has concentrated on working through arts-based practice, supporting individuals and groups to explore issues and enrich their lives by developing life skills and insight through creative engagement. Michelle’s role within Collective Encounters is an Associate Lead Artist.
Eleanor KilroyYouth Participation Producer
Eleanor is an applied theatre artist, facilitator and researcher. Her work places a sustained emphasis on using the arts to allow participants to re-negotiate everyday societal issues. Eleanor’s current PhD research (Goldsmiths, University of London) examines what is unearthed when applied theatre workshops are used to enable girls from working class backgrounds to explore the pressures of performing the self on social media. In her role as youth participation producer at Collective Encounters she develops creative projects for care-experienced young people. She has an MA in Performance in Culture at Goldsmiths and BA in Drama at Liverpool Hope University.
Joanne TremarcoWomen in Action Lead Artist (maternity cover)
Joanne is an interdisciplinary artist with 20 years’ experience of making thoughtful work with and for a range of communities, supporting people to make beautiful creations out of their lived experience. She works as a performer, director, painter, textiles maker and installation artist. She’s also a trained doula and wellbeing practitioner. As a performer she has toured improvised plays internationally with the aim of shedding light, bringing laughter, and encouraging people to express themselves and feel that their voice matters.

For Collective Encounters, Joanne is leading participatory arts work with women and families in Liverpool City Region throughout 2024.

Heidi RobinsonCreative Support Worker
A graduate of Collective Encounters’ Radical Makers programme, Heidi has a degree in Sport studies and Business Management. Heidi is an actress and singer/songwriter who studied Song, Acting & Dance at Lipa. Her singer name is Harmoni Zax and her published songs are under this name. As Creative Support Worker, Heidi provides a range of creative, administrative, and pastoral support to Collective Encounters projects, particularly helping participants create Inclusion Documents and making sure everyone gets the most out of the sessions. She has also been known to lend her musical and acting talents to many a Collective Encounters performance.
Natalie DennyAssociate Researcher
Natalie Denny is the award-winning force behind Skywriters Ltd, a creative writing social enterprise. Her roles include author, activist, and EDI Consultant. Natalie is currently represented by Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV and Film Agency and her second book, KEISHA JONES IS A FORCE OF NATURE will be published 1st February 2024 with Little Tiger UK.

Natalie is co-founder of The Goddess Projects, an organisation with the mission to empower, inspire and assist Black women and women of colour to develop and achieve in their communities. Natalie was awarded the Merseyside Women of the Year Social Impact accolade in July 2022 BBC Radio 1 Xtra Future Figures in 2023.

Amy WoodsDigital Marketing Coordinator
Amy first joined Collective Encounters in 2021 on a 6-month Kickstart Placement. Since then, she has completed an MSc in Culture and Society, a multi-disciplinary degree at the intersection of sociology, design and cultural theory at The London School of Economics and Political Science, where she explored explored how art-activism can be used to trouble understandings of public vs private space and surveillance practices.

She is now back at Collective Encounters and is excited to be running all things digital marketing for the organisation.

Sophia DotoloDigital Marketing Placement
Sophia is a third-year English student at the University of Liverpool. She is currently working as a TA at a special needs school which has sparked her interest in advocacy for disability rights, as well as showing interest in women’s rights in her local community. Her role as a digital marketing administrator allows her to engage with the content she shares on social media, hoping to inspire advocacy for rights through theatre for social change.
Nathan BowenDigital Marketing Placement
I am currently studying for my degree in Communications, Media and Games Design. I aim to develop key skills working for a company, whilst also developing my skills as a media student. I also want to develop my organisational skills as well as learn from the different people who use Collective Encounters as an institution of growth and expression.

In the future, I want to travel around different cultures and people to learn and expand my knowledge of the world. My career goal is to be able to have a successful job in a field I enjoy.

Other interests include football, graphic design, history, modern media, animation and games design.

Annette BurghesStrategic consultant
Annette has managed arts and community organisations for twenty-five years, and has been with Collective Encounters since it started. She studied Law at the College of Law, Research at Edge Hill and has also worked with Graeae, Highgate Newtown, Actiontrack, Windows Project, Evolve Music, Merlin Theatre.

For Collective Encounters Annette leads on strategy, organisational development and fundraising and has also co-authored research reports for Culture Liverpool, Public Health and Liverpool City Region Theatre Network.

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

Collective Encounters is supported by a fabulous team of trustees who give up their free time to help us achieve our mission and support the delivery team. 

Our Trustees are:

  • Jamie Beddard (Chair)
  • Kelly Bewers
  • Terri Heldt
  • June Hudson
  • Dr. Madeleine Irwin
  • Dr. Valeria Guarneros-Meza
  • Fabio Negro
  • Anya Winful

All can be contacted through admin@collective-encounters.org.uk