Staff & Trust Board

Following 24 successful years of development and support, in 2018 the Nelson City Council moved the Nelson Arts Festival into a community-based, autonomous organisation to enable it to grow and flourish.

The Nelson Arts Festival is now under the governance of the Nelson Festivals Trust, a registered charity.
Below are the people behind the Festival.

Festival Team | Nelson Festivals Trust | Strategic Plan

2020 Nelson Arts Festival team

Padma Naidu
Festival Director

Michaela Blackman

Annabel Boyes
Marketing Coordinator

Antony Hodgson
Project Support

Stef Naldi
Web and Social Media Support

Maria Anderson
Volunteer Coordinator

Kerry Sunderland
Pukapuka Talks Coordinator

Wendy Clease
Technical Director

JR Richardson
Head of Sound

Claire Watson
Office Support

Annie Pokel
Activations Coordinator


The Board’s Chair and Trustees were appointed through a public and transparent process led by the Nelson City Council.

The Trustees have combined experience in governance, business, central and local government, and arts promotion and management.
They are:

Brent Thawley - Board Chair
Brent Thawley has over 20 years’ experience in the wider cultural and sports sector, working in non-profit organisations and central and local Government. He has held senior leadership roles within Sport NZ and Creative New Zealand.

Ali Boswijk
Ali, a broadcaster by profession, has been involved with arts in Nelson since moving to New Zealand in 1996. She ran the Nelson Bays Arts Marketing Trust, is a former Deputy Mayor of Nelson City Council, and the former Head of International and Business Development for WOW. She is now Chief Executive of Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce.

Debbie Hannan
A former journalist specialising in the arts, Debbie has worked for Central Government, including Parliament as a communications specialist as well as within the business and NGO sectors. While working in Wellington she spent 10 years in arts’ promotion for professional arts organisations.

Caroline Marshall
Caroline, who has a life-long interest in the arts, has a business background, is a Trustee of Light Nelson, and with Sarah Sharp, was co-owner of Red Art Gallery in Nelson.

Pic Picot
Pic is the founder of the iconic New Zealand brand, Pic’s Peanut Butter, a Nelson based company that distributes its products nationwide.

Sarah Sharp
Sarah Sharp has a broad business background and has a life-long involvement with the arts, theatre and music. Most recently she was co-owner of Red Art Gallery with Caroline Marshall. She has been a supporter of the Nelson Arts Festival, on the organising team of PechaKucha and involved with the Festival’s Billboard Project exhibitions.

Sarah Yarrow
Sarah has a strong background in governance in local government, as well as community engagement and in arts management with the Salisbury International Arts Festival in the United Kingdom. She gained extensive experience in developing strategy and policy while working for the Nelson City Council for six years. She has had a life-long involvement with the arts.

Nelson Arts Festival Trustees
L-R: Debbie Hannan, Ali Boswijk, Pic Picot, Sarah Yarrow, Sarah Sharp, Caroline Marshall, Brent Thawley, Fido.


After consultation with the community, the Trust has developed a strategy to guide the new organisation through this important transition and to continue to build the Festival as New Zealand's most unmissable.

The Strategic Plan can be downloaded here.

If you would like to contact any board members they can be reached via

Get festival news in your inbox

We'll keep you up to date with show news and reminders.
Thank you.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.