Higher Education Partnerships Director, Opera North (to December 2021)

Consultant, Cultural and Higher Education Partnerships

Whilst commercial director at Opera North (2004-7), Lesley led the creation of the DARE partnership with the University of Leeds, described by Mission, Models, Money as ‘An exemplar of visionary and far-reaching collaboration’. She also led communications and private fundraising campaign for the £32m Transformation capital project, which provided the springboard for DARE and other mutually beneficial partnerships with organisations including Yorkshire Bank.

As Higher Education (HE) Partnerships Director, Lesley created Opera North’s Higher Education Strategy – the first of its kind – and project managed the development and launch of Culture Forum North, a network of partnerships between HE and the cultural sector across the North. She also led the development of Opera North long-term relationships with universities including Newcastle, York, and Leeds Conservatoire.

Her earlier professional years were spent in communications and product management at Bass and Coloroll before moving to the cultural sector as communications director at Eureka! the museum for children in Halifax and the National Media Museum in Bradford, during which time she led the creation of a collaboration between national museums and attractions across Yorkshire, which continues to thrive today.

She is particularly interested in how collaboration between organisations can create new opportunities and inspire new ways of thinking and operating in the cultural sector, delivering otherwise inaccessible internal and external benefits.