AN INTERNATIONAL arts consultant is lending her expertise to the Chester Festivals group which is behind several arts events in the city.
Sue Harrison will initially carry out research for the group, which runs the Chester Literature Festival and Chester Summer Music Festival, to assess whether its structure is the right one for the future.
There have been talks about the possibility of her joining the board and even taking over from current festivals chairman David Pickering.
Miss Harrison recently took over as chairman of Liverpool’s Bluecoat Arts Centre and has considerable experience, having worked as director of arts at the British Council, chief executive of North West Arts, and deputy director of Yorkshire and Humberside Arts.
She said: “I have committed myself to leading the board through the first stages but the research might tell us who should head up the organisation.
“I might sit on the board but not chair it necessarily. It’s about bringing strong regional arts expertise.”
Miss Harrison, who lives in Holmes Chapel, said one of the issues that should be addressed was whether it would make more sense for Chester Festivals to become an independent company. She said it might become a marketing, box office and fundraising agency in future.
Miss Harrison will begin talking to people in Chester next week to find out about what those “in the know” feel should be the aspirations for the arts in the context of the cultural strategy of the new Cheshire West
“We are trying to find the right niche against the two giants of Liverpool and Manchester and working out what’s the unique offer of Chester.”
She said there were opportunities for Chester to work in closer partnership with Liverpool such as had already happened with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
Miss Harrison said there was no reason why the city could not emulate the thriving arts scene in York, a tourist destination which is often compared to Chester.