About Cheltenham Festivals
Bringing joy, sparking curiosity, connecting communities, and inspiring change year-round with four world-class Festivals in Jazz, Science, Music and Literature, and charitable programmes for education, community, and talent development.
With programming that features the very best international artists, performers and speakers; unique experiences; and showcases up and coming talent, Cheltenham Festivals is at the centre of the UK’s cultural scene and boasts an enviable international reputation as leaders in our field.
We collaborate to create experiences which bring joy, spark curiosity, connect communities and inspire change.
A world in which everyone can explore and create culture.
Every year we set out new pledges to work towards as part of our charity ambitions. Cheltenham Festivals’ pledges for 2022 build on our mission and vision.
Cheltenham Festivals Timeline
Cheltenham Literature Festival formed
FameLab UK began
First ever Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Inaugural Cheltenham Music Festival
First ever Cheltenham Science Festival
- We produce 36 days of Festivals plus at least 180 days of year-round activity
- The four Festivals now feature nearly 1,000 events
- In addition to our interactive zones and Learning and Participation programee, 25% of our programme is free
- We sell over 215,000 tickets annually
- We rely on sponsorship, grants and charitable giving to secure our international profile and position at Cheltenham's cultural core
- Every year we invite more than 2,5000 of the world's finest musicians, writers, scientists and perfomers and thinkers to join with us to entertain and inspire Festival audiences of all ages
- We work with over 25,000 school children from 250 schools in a given year
Senior Management Team
Ian George – Co-CEO
With 16 years’ experience in the event industry Ian has worked in events both in the public, private and charity sector including running press offices, marketing departments and promoting and running festivals.
Ali Mawle – Co-CEO
Ali brings 18 years of arts/education experience to the Festivals. After 10 years working in inner-city London as a teacher, literacy consultant, deputy head teacher and ITT lecturer, she moved to the National Gallery to lead the National Schools Programme.
Helena Bibby – Director of People
Helena joined Cheltenham Festivals in February 2006 on a part-time basis to provide administrative support during the early stages of Cheltenham Festivals’ independence from Cheltenham Borough Council.
Suzanne Ross - Director of Finance
Suzanne joined Cheltenham Festivals in 2012 as Director of Fundraising for Cheltenham Literature Festival and has held a variety of roles across departments since, stepping into the role of Director of Finance in October 2021.
Board of Trustees
Beverley Grimster works with some of the most vulnerable groups in Gloucestershire through her work as a Service Delivery Manager for the Independence Trust. Beverley is passionate about the Arts and Sciences and a keen Festival goer, her ability to engage with all levels of society and in…
For the last four years Caroline has worked closely with the programming team at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. She is also a member of the Literature Festival Advisory Board, which she joined after co-ordinating the 2013 inaugural Books Are My Bag campaign. In 2003 she set up the Althorp…
Dr Debby Cogan Thacker
American by birth, Deborah Thacker has been a UK resident since 1975. She has been teaching literature in higher education for 25 years. Her research is focussed on the inter-relationship between publishing, marketing, education, and children around reading, but she has published on many aspects…
Matthew Clayton (Company Secretary non-voting)
Matthew has been a qualified solicitor for over 20 years and is a partner in law firm Willans LLP. His clients include multi-national companies, SMEs, owner-managed businesses, public sector bodies, charities, and other not-for-profit organisations. A former Cambridge University choral scholar,…
Having been raised in Cheltenham, Shamil Makhecha knows each of the four Festivals and is still drawn back to his ‘hometown’ as a Literature and Jazz lover. Shamil is currently the Director of a London based Race Equality organisation and Gender Equality Officer at a leading development…
Mark is the Chair of Cheltenham Festivals. He's an experienced Non-Executive Director skilled in providing positive challenge, strategic oversight, and lateral thinking to deliver transformational change within diverse businesses and company cultures, locally, nationally, and internationally,…
After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in English, Peter Howarth worked in the fashion industry for Paul Smith as Projects Manager and then for Nicole Farhi, where he set up the menswear collection and was head of menswear.
He then became a journalist and has been Style…
Adrian is a Chartered Accountant with over 35 years experience in finance within the banking and charity sectors. He started his career with Hazelwoods in Cheltenham and then completed 25 years with NatWest in a variety of senior UK and European finance roles and most recently was Director of…
Jonathan White has lived and worked in Cheltenham since 1997 and, together with his family, has been a regular visitor to Cheltenham Festivals for many years. Jonathan now works as a freelance Director and Business Advisor, having spent the last 35 years sitting on, and leading, a variety of…
Andy is an Executive Director at Govtech Solutions in Cirencester and has over 25 years’ experience as a software engineer, primarily working with local government. A member of the Institute of Directors and the Open Data Institute, he combines a keen practitioner's interest in both governance…
Lucy has worked across the arts and cultural sector in a range of learning and engagement roles for libraries, museums, art galleries and heritage sites, and is passionate about cultural education and social justice. To ensure that every child and young person has a positive and empowering…