Theatre Bristol welcomes new team

Tessa Wills
Tessa Wills

Theatre Bristol is delighted to announce that Tessa Wills is to become its new Creative Director, alongside three new Artist Support Associates and Eloise Tong as the new General Manager.

Tessa Wills is a live artist, arts leader and community builder with an ethical and research based leadership style. They make durational solo performances and participatory community events which challenge and nourish through connection. They have been artistic director of THIS IS WHAT I WANT festival; the annual festival of performances about desire for the last 7 years whilst living in the San Francisco bay area. They have two ongoing performance projects: The Hermit Project, about performances we make in private and Lament, a project about professional mourners. They draw on a diverse background of dance, music, ritual, somatics, sexuality and sex work and business training to inform creative interventions.

Tessa said “I am so honoured and excited to be joining the team. I’m pleased to be able to be in service to Bristol, my hometown. I’m looking forward to meeting you all and dreaming into action.”

Bristol live artist Tom Marshman, currently celebrating his 21st anniversary as a performance maker, and actor and writer Alex Murdoch, former Artistic Director of Cartoon de Salvo, have just started as Artist Support Associates. These roles are the heart and foundation of Theatre Bristol, delivered by artists who provide direct, bespoke support to others while continuing their own creative practice. Tribe of Doris/Diverse Artists Network co-founder Deasy Bamford will be joining the team as an Artist Support Associate later this summer.

Eloise Tong joins Theatre Bristol from her recent roles as Arts Development Manager (maternity) at The Edge and Creative Programmes Coordinator at Pavilion Dance South West. She brings her passion for artist development and organisational and strategic thinking to support TB and the wider sector.

Mel Scaffold, Theatre Bristol CEO, said “I am beyond excited about the new team we’ve assembled to help create the future of Theatre Bristol, and to bring a new level of support, inspiration and leadership to independent performance in the city. We’re deeply grateful to everyone that’s been part of our journey so far, and are now looking forward to working together to address some of the sector’s biggest challenges.”

Theatre Bristol works at grassroots and strategic levels to support the theatre industry to be more exciting, more relevant and more accessible. It supports independent artists to develop ideas and careers, and develops collective action to improve the industry.

Over the past year it has supported over 200 individual artists and companies through its free, bespoke development programme and TB Agent Bursaries, and enabled thousands of artists and audience members to connect, share and grow through theatrebristol.net. 2018 saw the flourishing of Dance Futures, a citywide initiative to develop the future of dance in Bristol, grounded in the city’s unique independent, collaborative sprit.

In 2019 Theatre Bristol’s work will be shaped by new Creative Director Tessa Wills who will provide provocation, inspiration and leadership for the independent sector, helping to achieve positive change and greater diversity in the arts.

Theatre Bristol is one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations and a Bristol City Council Cultural Investment Partner.

Get in touch:

You can email our Artist Support Associates at

Tessa Wills

Eloise will be joining us in June and we’ll add her contact details then.

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