BAFA Board Members

Alexis Paterson
BAFA Chair
Chief Executive
Three Choirs Festival


Alexis joined the BAFA board in November 2017, and became vice-chair in November 2018. She has been the Chief Executive of Three Choirs Festival Association since January 2016, and prior to that spent five years as Cheltenham Music Festival’s Manager. She has also worked as an Education Assistant at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and in a freelance capacity, she has worked as a composer assistant, arranger, researcher, and everything from event manager to first aid support on festivals from Presteigne to Wilderness. Alexis has a PhD in twentieth century music and culture from Cardiff University and has taught on aesthetics and contemporary music at Cardiff and Salford universities. She is currently a trustee of Goldfield Productions, and in her free time plays violin and viola with various local ensembles.


Jack Whitewood
BAFA Treasurer
Festival Director
Ventnor Fringe Festival

Jack is Treasurer of  BAFA and a Founder/Director of the Ventnor Exchange on the Isle of Wight, a venue and arts organisation behind the multi award winning Ventnor Fringe. After training at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and placements within the Literary Department at Hampstead Theatre, Jack worked as a Venue Assistant on festivals including No Direction Home, Shamballa and Bestival. Since 2014 he was helped to lead cultural regeneration and foster a creative sector on the Isle of Wight, and also acts as a Trustee of the ‘Island Collection’ and ‘New Carnival Company’ one of the Island’s two NPOs.






Ashley Morris
BAFA Secretary
General Manager
Newbury Spring Festival


Ashley Morris is General Manager of Newbury Spring Festival. In his role at the Festival he is responsible for all aspects of the organisation and administration of the annual Festival, now in its 41st year. His current responsibilities are wide ranging and include running the Festival office, securing funding and sponsorship for the Festival, producing printed marketing materials, volunteer coordination, and overseeing the production of the 45 Festival events each year.  Ashley has worked in the music industry for his entire professional career. Before the Festival Ashley worked as Manager: Administration & Operations at the International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA). In his role there he was involved with all aspects of IAMA, including membership matters, but focusing on the financial management of the association, and worked closely alongside the Chief Executive and Board to deliver the annual IAMA Conference.


Sharon Canavar
Chief Executive
Harrogate International Festivals


Sharon Canavar is Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals. With a background in music and special interest in the travel trade she worked for the country’s most successful specialist tour operator; Kuoni Travel Ltd and a privately owned start up JAC Travel Ltd. Since joining Harrogate International Festivals she has expanded and diversified the organisation which now encompasses a year-round programme of activity attracting more than 90,000 people to its portfolio of activities. She sits as a Non-Exec Director on Harrogate BID and Harrogate Convention Centre.



Alison Giles
Festival Producer
Presteigne Festival


After training at the Royal Academy of Music, Alison worked as a musician before going into marketing and fundraising at English National Opera. She became Administrator and then General Manager of The Sixteen, where she worked on international and UK touring, and set up the group’s recording label, CORO. After nine happy years Alison moved into freelance work, with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and the vocal ensemble Tenebrae. Alison now works as Festival Producer for Presteigne Festival, and for Brecon Baroque Festival.  She is also a consultant with Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants. 



Lyndsey Fineran
Literature Festival Programme & Commissions Manager
Cheltenham Festivals


Originally from the North East and now Bristol based, Lyndsey is the Programme & Commissions Manager for Cheltenham Literature Festival – the oldest, and one of the largest, book festivals in the world. In her time with the Festival she’s been responsible for building a live literature programme, talent development, commissions and international partnerships and helped to deliver a pioneering hybrid edition of the 2020 Festival that won ‘Event of the Year’ at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Awards. She holds degrees in Literature from Durham and St Andrews Universities, is on the board of the British Arts Festivals Association, chairs events and is a Society of Young Publishers Mentor. In 2019 she was selected for The Bookseller’s Rising Stars programme, which identifies and champions the future leaders of the book trade.



Helen Heslop
Concerts & Events Manager
BBC Proms & Radio 3


Helen Heslop manages the Live Events Team for the Proms and BBC Radio 3, and has done since 1998. In the past she has also worked on BBC Young Musician of the Year and as Tours Manager of the Philharmonia Orchestra. Her main two roles on the BBC Proms are working with the Director of the Proms on the artistic planning and overseeing the logistical planning of the festival. Helen has been involved with BAFA in various guises since 2003.  





Dr Jane Ali-Knight
Director of Edinburgh Institute, Festivals, Events and Tourism
Edinburgh Napier University


Dr Jane Ali-Knight is a Professor in Festival and Event Management at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland and a Visiting Professor at Curtin University, Australia. She is currently leading and developing the festival and event subject group as well as lecturing at Universities internationally and facilitating training and development in the field.  Her core activities fall into three main areas: event and festival related programmes; research and publications and conferences and professional events. She is currently a board member of BAFA (British Arts and Festivals Association) and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Royal Society of the Arts.


Erica Smith
Director
Portsmouth Festivities


Erica Smith is currently the Director of Portsfest an annual City-Wide arts and cultural festival. She has been a programme manager and creative producer in the creative industries for 20 years including the UK wide Creative Partnerships programme where she was at the heart of creativity in education for Hampshire and Isle of Wight. She has devised hundreds of innovative projects and produced thousands of events with a specialist knowledge in mixed media projects. Erica is also the director and Co-Founder of Voice FM radio station in Southampton.  




Sonia Stevenson
Head of Music Patron
Sound & Music


Sonia Stevenson grew up in St Andrews. She studied at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh and King’s College London, where she gained a BMus and MMus. Her work has spanned many different aspects of the music business. She is currently Head of Music Patron, a digital start-up connecting composers and patrons. In 2012 she founded her own festival, St Andrews Voices, dedicated to vocal and choral music. She has also worked as a Composer Agent, Project Consultant at Macbeth Media Relations, Artistic Director of Lichfield Festival, Promotion Manager at Faber Music, PA to the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, Artist Manager at Connaught Artists and Concerts Department Assistant at the Philharmonia Orchestra. Since 2015 she has been on the board of the British Arts Festival Association, and in 2018/19 she was Chair of BAFA.