The Board

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

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

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

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.

Rupert Collis

Rupert Collis joined Grosvenor Estate in April 2014 as the Commercial Property Manager in the Estate Management Team at Eaton and then assumed responsibility as Estate Manager in 2017.

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. 

As Estate Manager, Rupert is responsible for the Eaton, Chester and north Wales estates. Rupert acts as the Grosvenor Estate’s Agent and represents the Estate, Trustees and Grosvenor family in the local community and is responsible for implementing the overall estate strategic plan.

He holds a BSc degree in Estate Management from Oxford Brookes University and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Away from work and when he is not spending time with his family, Rupert enjoys his time in the Army Reserve where he has served 24 years with the Honourable Artillery Company and the Queen’s Own Yeomanry and currently holds the rank of Major.

Geoffrey Piper, DL FCA

Geoffrey Piper, DL FCA is a Chartered Accountant and former senior partner of Deloitte, initially in the Channel Islands and subsequently in Liverpool. From 1990 until February 2017 Geoffrey was Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT), an independent group of senior executives from the region’s major businesses who work together to promote the sustainable economic development and long-term well-being of North West England. Upon retirement as Chief Executive, Geoffrey has been appointed NWBLT’s Cultural Ambassador, promoting and supporting NWBLT’s cultural interests in the North West including its annual Lever Prize scheme for arts and business collaborations.  In his earlier career Geoffrey was the founding Chair of BOOM (Business Opportunities on Merseyside), a joint founder of the Mersey Partnership and, as the representative of NWBLT, closely involved in the establishment of the North West Partnership as a collaborative partnership between the region’s local authorities and business leaders. Geoffrey and his wife Sue live in Parkgate,


Dr Brendan O’Sullivan, PhD, MA, PGCert, GMus, FHEA

Brendan is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the university of Chester and a member of the Senior Leadership Team. As Executive Dean, he has responsibility for over 3000 students, 200 staff and three interdisciplinary research centres and institutes across the faculty’s two schools: Arts and Media, and Humanities. The Faculty is home to seven departments: Art and Design, English, History and Archaeology, Media, Modern Languages, Performing Arts, and Theology and Religious Studies.

Brendan joined the University of Chester in 1998 as a lecturer in TV Production. His experience in Television was gained working across a range of formats and genres, from peak time entertainment to regional current affairs programmes, and for a number of major television broadcasters and producers. His media teaching interests lie in the broad area of Television Production and more specifically in Broadcast Documentary. He is a member of the Media, Culture & Communications Subject Association (MeCCSA), and the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD).

Prior to a career in broadcasting Brendan undertook undergraduate studies in music resulting in time spent working as a freelance musician and peripatetic teacher of upper strings. Postgraduate study in the field of Popular Music followed at the University of Liverpool which led to research interests in the ecology of performance and the performance of identity. Continuing these research themes, Brendan completed doctoral studies that explored the performativity of the second and third generation Irish in Manchester with a particular concentration on comedy writing and performance. He is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Centre for Research in Arts and Media (CCRAM) and the British Association for Irish Studies (BAIS). He also continues to play violin – though it is not entirely clear who benefits from this.

Brendan has an interest and belief in the mutual benefits of strong and sustained relationships within the HE sector and between the university sector and industry partners and is committed to developing relationships and partnerships domestically and overseas. As a passionate advocate for excellence in Learning and Teaching, he chairs the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee. He has acted as peer reviewer for European Social Research Council (ESRC) funding scheme and also sits on the executive committee of the Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DASsH UK).



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.

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Symposium Analysis

Symposium on visual arts development 22-9-2016.  Analysis of key themes and suggested actions from the symposium event. 

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