Threshold Team

The Team

Uzma Johal MBE

Strategic Director 

Uzma’s background is in broadcast documentary and television production. She has extensive experience of working in the arts and creative media industries.

As a Co-Founder and Strategic Director of Threshold, she drives the ethos and vision behind the organisation. A passionate advocate for social change, Uzma’s work has always prioritised participation, innovation and development of creativity in media, technology and the arts in the UK.

Uzma sat on the Arts Council England Area and Regional Councils for the Midlands for eight years. She is currently focusing on brokering partnerships with the HE sector to unlock opportunities for meaningful and sector-specific apprenticeships and collaborative production in new and emerging technologies. She continues to provide mentorship and coaching for creative talent as part of her portfolio of work and providing sector support through Thresholds consultancy work with CEO’s, Senior Management Teams and Boards, facilitating how technology can achieve objectives.

She was recognised on the 2016 New Years Honours List and received an MBE for her contribution to the Digital Economy.

She was once described as “a more glamorous Yoda”.

Samantha Lindley

Chief Executive and Creative Director

Samantha’s 20+ years of experience as a creative producer in the cultural sector spans the public realm, moving image, community cohesion, education, artist and talent development, employability, live events and commissioning.

As Creative Director for the organisation, she designs, develops and implements projects that manifest the organisation’s vision and ethos locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Committed to using arts and culture for social change and equality, she believes that digital and emerging technologies allow expansion of culture for social good and inclusion.

With a background in production, she focuses on a human-led design approach to developing cultural engagement and experience. Using data and insight to engage with audiences, artists and creatives to ensure equity of opportunity and to test and expand how culture can play a beneficial role in our day to day lives, personally, socially and economically.

A strong problem solver she really does love a cup of tea.

Kate Saunders

Director of Marketing and Audiences

As Director of Marketing and Audiences, Kate creates strategic data-driven marketing and audience development plans for Threshold Studios, as well as integrated plans for Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture and Digital Democracies. She also leads on research and impact work for the organisation, and is a self confessed data lover. 

With over 13 years experience of marketing within creative, cultural and HE sectors, Kate is passionate about building arts and culture audiences, increasing inclusivity and accessibility, and strengthening the sector for artists and creatives. She holds a CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing (Digital Strategy) and BA Fine Art degree.

Jo Heldreich BA FCA

Finance Manager

Jo is a chartered accountant with strong technical accounting and IT skills backed up by 16 years of practical experience and a logical, hands on approach to getting the job done efficiently. She has a track record of delivering timely, accurate and relevant financial information to a wide variety of audiences, and experience of forming successful relationships at all levels of business.

 In 2014 Jo made the decision to set up her own company, Beehive Accountancy Services Limited, with the aim to deliver a high quality outsourced finance function to small businesses. The company provides a range of accountancy services from bookkeeping and payroll, to management reporting and high-level financial advice. Beehive specialises in providing professional services to the not for profit sector where Jo has spent most of her career, both inside and outside of practice.

Donna Close

Associate Director

Donna is a strategic consultant and creative producer with 25 years’ experience in arts and culture, working at senior levels across the private, public sectors and third sectors. She has developed cultural strategy and new partnerships, consortiums and alliances for local, national and international projects and raised more than £10 million investment for culture.

Donna has particular expertise in place-making projects and in creating and initiating arts festivals, special events and creative public art programmes.  Donna created and developed an award winning international festival White Night which commissioned 60 new pieces of work over 4 years including the civic soundscape project ‘West St Story’ with Martyn Ware.

Donna was also one of the founding trustees of the Brighton Open air Theatre raising more than £120k through crowd funding. Donna is Associate Director at FEI and a senior research fellow at the University of Brighton specialising in creative leadership and experience economy. Donna also produces immersive and film based projects as producer with Driftwood.

Simon Hollingworth

Associate Producer

Simon is a freelance Creative Producer based in Lincolnshire and works with a variety of venues, festivals and creative projects across the East Midlands and beyond.

Recent clients have included Transported, Rosa Productions, Lincs Music Hub, Doddington Hall and Peterborough Presents and he is one of the regular Creative Producers on Grantham’s biennial Gravity Fields Festival of arts & science. He was previously Director of Lincoln Drill Hall for 10 years and as part of that role was involved in helping to set up the first Frequency Festival in 2011.

Simon (also known as Mr Holly) is on the Board of Tom Dale Company and Zest Theatre and is delighted to be joining the Threshold team as one of two new Associate Producers and is looking forward to getting more people involved in Frequency 2019 and beyond.

Rob Gethen Smith MBA BEng

Associate Director

Rob is a digital technology specialist with extensive experience working across the arts as well as the broader social impact sector.

As Chief Information Officer he led digital transformation programmes at Tate and Southbank Centre enabling the wholescale opening up of digital access to artistic and educational content, development of new digital services and the modernisation of operational systems and practices. Working closely with curatorial and education colleagues to envision the digital ‘art of the possible’ and facilitate new experiences, he was also instrumental in the delivery of the Web we Want Digital Festival.

As a consultant, Rob provides advice to large and small organisations on how to maximise the potential of digital technology. He is currently Chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Digital and Technology Special Interest Group and he leads on partnerships for a software supplier that delivers CRM solutions to non-profit organisations. He thrives on simplifying the complex to arrive at solutions that make sense and can be achieved.

In spare time he enjoys playing the piano badly and watching Crystal Palace sometimes win a game of football.

The Board

Prof. Harriet Gross

Harriet is currently Chair of Threshold Studios.

After running a bookshop in South London, Harriet undertook a psychology degree followed by a PhD.  From starting out as a researcher, she then became a lecturer, taught child psychology, and is now a professor and part of the senior leadership team at University of Lincoln.

Harriet’s research interests have ranged from pregnancy to gardening (she is the author of Psychology of Gardening (Routledge).

In 2013 she was part of a team from University of Lincoln that developed ‘Digital Capabilities’ for the Chelsea Flower Show, a garden structure that responded to Twitter messages and went on to win a gold medal.

Following a move from Head of Psychology to become Director of Innovative Special Projects at Lincoln, Harriet became involved with the School of Film and Media and Frequency Festival. In 2015 she was instrumental in creating an event with Lincoln Co_Lab and Threshold for the 2015 Web We Want Festival at London’s Southbank.

Harriet is also a Trustee of a dementia charity and a community gardening charity.

Toni Allen

A driven and dedicated Chartered Institute of Marketing professional with extensive experience of working with both developing start-ups and global large scale corporations.  Toni has worked both agency and client-side on large multi-faceted global campaigns, including bringing new products to market in new retail categories and strategic innovation in established categories, with considerable integrated marketing and stakeholder experience at Senior Management and Board level.

Her experience includes work in Education, Mental Health, B2B, B2C, IT, FMCG, Tobacco, Arts & Entertainment and charitable sectors, and a proven portfolio of managing large multi-million budgets, using strategic thinking to see return on revenue streams and winning and developing new products and business.

Chris Baker

As an Account Director at Four Colman Getty, Chris has been publicising culture and the creative industries since 2008. He works with clients across the UK and internationally, with particular interest in regional festivals and in the meeting points of art and design with science, technology,  enterprise and education.

He was nominated as a Rising Star by the Bookseller in 2015 for his work in publishing.

Chris first became involved with Threshold Studios by promoting Frequency, Lincoln’s Festival of Digital Culture in 2013 and has sat on the advisory board since 2014. He holds a first class BA Honours in History of Art from the University of Nottingham and an Advanced Certificate from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Dr. Sarah Barrow

With a career that began in film education and film festival administration in Cambridge, Sarah has gone on to lecture at Anglia Ruskin University and University of Lincoln before becoming Head of the School of Film & Media.

At Lincoln, Sarah was the University lead for Frequency Festival and for the Arts Council-funded arts/digital/rights project 1215.today.

Her research is concerned with the ways in which cinema presents and contests issues of power, and Sarah’s main area of study in this context is Peruvian cinema and culture. She has recently published a book exploring the relationship between cinema, identity and political violence, and has a new project underway on media and feminist activism in Peru.

Sarah is currently Professor of Film and Media at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Emily Bowman

Emily is the current Deputy CEO at The Mighty Creatives, the Arts Council England’s Bridge organisation for the East Midlands. With a wealth of experience as a facilitator, producer, fundraiser, project developer and manager, Emily has worked for a range of cultural organisations.

Her career began as an actor and facilitator working on a wide variety of engagement programmes with a diverse range of participants and audience members. Throughout her career she has focused on helping to develop young people as decision makers and future leaders through youth-led participatory projects.

Emily is extremely passionate about empowering young programmers and performers and is keen to see young peoples’ voices embedded at a strategic level in all cultural organisations.