Meet the team
ANS is a voluntary organisation. Our committee consists of diverse members bringing with them a range of skills including: design, writing, acting, dance, craft, visual arts, local government, arts education, coaching, creative and festival programming, and organisational development.
The London Borough of Sutton is represented by two councillors, Cllr Steve Cook and Cllr Steve Penneck, who sit on the committee as observers. Lord Tope is Patron of the organisation.
Tom Franck received a scholarship to train at Arts Educational Schools London and graduated in 2009 with an MA in Acting. He has had a varied acting career performing in a wide range of roles from drama to comedy, Shakespeare to new writing, performing in Theatre tours, London Theatres, Edinburgh festival and on screen.
In 2014 he produced his own production of Cinderella in the borough of Sutton. Since then Tom has continued to produce his unique shows for children, entertaining audiences in a variety of venues and events. Tom also runs an early years development business and lives in Carshalton with his wife and two children.
Executive Committee Member and Vice Chair (Acting)
By profession, Lauren McMenemy is a journalist, copywriter, content strategist and creative coach with more than 20 years’ experience as a professional writer. She runs The Content Type, creating articles and reports and developing in-house newsroom strategies for B2B corporates, as well as coaching, mentoring and training writers of all stripes.
By passion, Lauren writes fiction (as LJ McMenemy) and plays with words as a gothic/horror novelist. She is an active member of Sutton Writers, the London Writers’ Salon and 26, author of the How To Be Self(ish) newsletter, and editor/contributor to the Adventures in Pop Culture blog. Born in Australia and an avid pop culture junkie, she’s been a Londoner for 15 years. She married a local lad (and avid SUFC supporter!), and has been hanging around central Sutton for more than half a decade. You’ll usually find her musing on Twitter and tracing her journeys on Instagram.
Executive Committee Member
Gemma Baxter is a values driven facilitator and personal coach with over 15 years experience of leading career development and participation projects in the performing arts. Committed to contributing to the development of a more equitable arts sector, Gemma supports individuals and teams to fulfil their potential. Gemma delivers group and one-to-one sessions for a range of arts organisations, including Tonic Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Dance City, The Lowry, Home Slough and the National Theatre. From 2009 to 2020, Gemma worked at the National Theatre as Workforce Development Manager, which included running Step Change, a career development programme. Previous to that, Gemma held participation roles at the Royal Opera House, ROH Creative Partnerships and Garsington Opera.
Chris Ellis is an experienced commercial director of finance and operations in a number of industries. He has worked in print, radio and TV media, technology, telecoms, real estate and financial services’ sectors. A self-confessed live music enthusiast, he is usually found listening to jazz, soul and funk bands at numerous live venues in London. A once part-time actor with the Afro-Sax Theatre Company, he continues to support his children in drama and musical endeavours.
Executive Committee Member - Co Opted
Rebecca Olajide is a local multimedia artist exploring diverse subject matters including the urban and domestic environment, migration, and the act and perception of work. Her interest in the domestic environment extends to deliberately choosing to create art from the home and not an art studio setting. Rebecca works with a variety of mediums such as paint, charcoal, prints and fabric.
Rebecca is the Community Partnerships Coordinator at a major national museum in Central London. She has previously worked with the British Film Institute, Bethlem Gallery and South London Gallery to deliver engagement projects for local communities. Rebecca’s community engagement practice has led her to work with diverse groups including people living with dementia and their carers, young people and children, people living with mental health conditions and with physical and sensory disabilities.
Executive Committee Member - Co Opted
Sarah is a local business owner with over 15 years teaching and youth work experience. She can currently be found teaching people of all ages at her workshop in Cheam. Previously she has worked as a secondary Textiles teacher and she has extensive experience working in primary and secondary schools throughout Sutton, Cheam and Banstead.
Sarah has a keen interest in theatre and dance, having previously held a position on the committee of a local youth theatre in Teddington. She has a long-held passion for education and the arts and inspiring confidence in young designers, artists and performers.
Doug Shaw is a visual artist based in Carshalton whose work often reflects aspects of where he lives and works, and aspects of his mental health, self-care, and speaking truth to power. He runs and participates in networking events, art workshops, open studios, live painting. Since April 2016 Doug has run the award winning ‘We Are All Artists’ free art project, which encourages community engagement through workshops, pop up shows, and a weekly free art drop where Doug hides a piece of art in his neighbourhood for people to find. Doug is a member of Carshalton Artists Open Studios, has a good understanding and interest in social media, and runs a thriving Facebook page for his art and community engagement.
Participation & Engagement Officer
Participation & Engagement Officer Samia Tossio has been working as a community artist, workshop facilitator and arts project manager with SamiArt since 2008 during which time she has also co-directed Imagine, Sutton’s Festival of Participatory Arts, received a Culture Award, been Highly Commended for Trustee of The Year Award, spent 2 years coordinating a Community Art Space in Sutton’s Times Square shopping centre, enjoyed 4 years freelancing as Community Engagement Coordinator for an inclusive theatre company, and was also a performing member of their Adult Company. In 2007 she became a home educating parent and set up SHEF (Sutton Home Education Forum) and currently volunteers her time as Live Acts Coordinator (she books the bands) and MC for HEFF – Home Educating Families’ Festival, which she co-founded in 2016. She also has a 15-year background in business administration, is a finger knitter, doodle artist, silk painter, vocalist, and member of Carshalton Artists.
Members of ANS are able to meet with like-minded creatives in the Borough at regular networking events, attend free training sessions and make applications to the ANS grant scheme.
Join today to take advantage of all the great things on offer!