The Board of Directors is a group of like minded business and arts leaders
Our ultimate aim is to create a permanent public art gallery in Chester and, to achieve that aim, establish a regular programme of quality events and exhibitions which will lead to the City becoming a go to place nationally and internationally for the visual arts.
Ian Short is co-owner of Chester based AielloShort, art and urban regeneration advisors and investors, with national and international reach. Its focus is on attracting inward investment for development and arts projects, and combining commercial property, historic preservation and legal experience in the retail, leisure, cultural and financial sectors.
Ian has a law degree from Liverpool University and is a retired lawyer, formerly as Legal Director & Company Secretary of Morris & David Jones, a major plc in the wholesale and retail food distribution business, Managing Partner of Bermans and Business Development Director of DWF, national law firms based in Liverpool. Ian has long experience in property, corporate and commercial law, with particular recent emphasis on public and private sector partnerships, urban regeneration and inward investment.
He also has extensive experience in the creative industries sector, particularly relating to the management of arts facilities and the role of culture as a driver of regeneration and community education. He is a member and past sponsor of Tate Liverpool (“Testing the Water”, 1997/98, the first Tate exhibition anywhere to be curated by young people from 14 to 24 years old) and was a long serving Director of Visionfest, a precursor of the Liverpool Biennial, and the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, which there included the planning and implementation of its rebuilding and regeneration programme a few years ago. Ian is also a member of Art Fund, Cheshire.
He is a Director of Housing People Building Communities, a unique social housing trust, currently building 32 houses in Toxteth, Liverpool, and is Vice-President and past Chairman of the Brunswick Youth Club, Bootle and a former Director of the Merseyside Youth Association.
Ian, a contemporary art collector, has lived in Chester for the past 16 years with Cynthia, his wife and business partner, who, for the past 8 years, have been exploring ways to improve the visual arts experience in the City, culminating in their founding Chester Visual Arts.
Cynthia Aiello-Short is a US and Italian citizen with a degrees History and Historic Preservation from Goucher College, Towson, Maryland, and advanced graduate studies in public policy at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.
She has an extensive property background in leisure and retail, with international reputation and connection. Cynthia has managed, led and delivered international projects – South Street Seaport, New York, Charles Square at Harvard Square, Boston, and Maremagnum waterfront development in Barcelona, all commercial mixed use developments with large elements of public realm, museum & gallery, leisure & retail provision for their cities. She also has extensive experience in senior asset and fund management and director advisory roles with The Rouse Company, USA, Jones Lang LaSalle, Grosvenor, and London First.
Also, whilst living in New York City, she founded and was a board member and director of an international gallery for illustration art with a member of the Heineman publishing family in SoHo. She directed and curated many international exhibitions, including the New Yorker Magazine, Chris Beetles Gallery, London and Sotheby’s.
Cynthia came to live in the UK in 1994 and, since leaving the London corporate world to live in Chester 16 years ago, and following other retail and regeneration projects, with her husband, Ian Short, she has set up AielloShort, art and urban regeneration advisors and investors, with national and international reach. Its focus is on attracting inward investment for development and art projects, and combining, commercial property, historic preservation and legal experience in the retail, urban regeneration, cultural and financial sectors.
She is a former member of the Urban Land Institute, lecturer at New York University, syndicated columnist for Leisure Week Magazine, UK and is currently a member of the Tate and art collector. Cynthia is also Board Member and Treasurer of The Art Fund, Cheshire.
Canon Jane Brooke
Canon Jane Brooke was installed as a Residentiary Canon at Chester Cathedral in September 2010. As Canon Chancellor she oversees education work and promotes the visual arts in the Cathedral. Jane has taught children of 3-18 years for over 20 years. She has taught RE, Maths, English, Science and Art to secondary students and is currently an educational consultant in Religious Education.
Jane is passionate about the visual arts because she considers that they offer a unique engagement with the artist through the art as well as a personal challenge to the observer. They also offer the possibility of encountering an unknown mystery beyond ourselves.
Hilary Banner is a retired solicitor having practised in partnership in Liverpool dealing with commercial work as well as a large number of newly emerging charitable cultural and arts organisations. She worked to establish the E Chambre Hardman Trust Museum in Liverpool following the death of the photographer, as well as managing projects for the restoration of historic buildings through a Building Preservation Trust. Subsequently attaining a Masters degree in Environmental Law, she worked alongside industry in areas of environmental legal compliance and business systems.
Much of her work has involved project establishment and management with funding applications and, through continuing charitable work, event organisation and fund raising.
Currently, Hilary chairs the Cheshire Committee of the Art Fund; the arts charity which provides a wealth of grants to the nation’s museums and galleries for the acquisition of works, the establishment of new collections and for curatorial development. She is also a Director of a London based Property Management Company.
An enthusiastic supporter of the arts, Hilary is patron to a number of NW arts organisations. She visits as many provincial galleries and museums as time allows. Spending part of her time in London provides the opportunity to be in touch with not only the major galleries but also less well known contemporary arts institutions. Now living in Chester, she is committed to the establishment of a contemporary art gallery of national importance.
Alex Siddell joined Grosvenor Estate based at Eaton in May 2013 as the Private Secretary to the 6th Duke of Westminster, before assuming the same role for the current Duke in early 2018. As a long-term land and property owner, the Eaton Estate is actively involved in the economic, business, social and cultural life of the city, the estate villages and the wider region. It is the estate’s goal to make a positive long-term contribution to all the communities in which we are involved. Alex, in addition to his role with the Duke, is responsible for running the Private Office for the wider family, which includes day to day management of the Archives, Fine Art collection, Households and Gardens across the United Kingdom.
He holds a History Degree from King’s College London University and is a keen if distinctly amateur cricket player; Alex recently retired from the Army Reserve in a career that saw him latterly lead the Cheshire Squadron of the Queen’s Own Yeomanry and serve on operational tours to both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Geoffrey Piper, DL FCA
Dr Paul Johnson, Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts & Humanities, University of Chester
Paul Johnson is Professor of Theatre and Performance and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Chester. He joined the University in 2018 having previously been Head of the School of Performing Arts and Associate Dean (Quality and Partnerships) at the University of Wolverhampton. He has worked on academic developments across the arts and led work with partners in Malaysia, Ireland, Greece, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. He was previously Head of Department and has taught on drama and performing arts programmes at a number of different HEIs, and been external examiner or advisor at 14 different institutions.
Paul’s academic background is in both arts and sciences; with a joint honours degree in Physics and Theatre Studies, his work has often explored the intersections and interactions between disciplines. His current research interest are in interdisciplinary approaches to art and performance, such as science and philosophy; applied drama, including theatre and performance in museums and heritage sites and theatre with and for young people; and experimental performance in Europe and the USA. He is a longstanding member of the Theatre and Performance Research Association and Co-convenor of its Science and Performance Working Group. He worked in applied theatre research at the Centre for Applied Theatre Research at the University of Manchester, on projects investigating theatre in museums and heritage sites, and how performing arts can engage young people in issues around biomedical science (funded by the Wellcome Trust). Paul has also worked in theatre as a writer and director, as well as a variety of other roles from youth theatre worker to script reader for the Literary Department of the Birmingham Rep.
He was Vice-Chair of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments from 2007 – 2010, sits on the Strategic Advisory Board of Arts Connect (the Arts Council England bridge organisation for the West Midlands), and is a Fellow of the RSA.
Statement of Objectives
We are determined to be the catalyst to create a thriving visual arts environment in the City of Chester that will be recognised for its ambition and contribution to the development of contemporary visual arts at a national and international level.