Mike Christie becomes Ambassador for Independent Arts

Tue 14 Jun 2022 @ 11:32

Mike Christie

Independent Arts is delighted to announce Cowes-based singer and composer Mike Christie has agreed to be an ambassador. Mike, who also organises Wight Proms and performs as part of the vocal group G4, is an enthusiastic advocate of singing and can’t imagine not singing professionally, which he has done since the age of eight years old.

The role of ambassador is to help to raise the profile of Independent Arts and is based on an agreement which lasts initially for two years. Since 2018 however, Independent Arts has been a charity partner to Wight Proms, attending with staff and volunteers to assist with the audience welcome across the various evenings.

Mike recently visited Independent Arts' Creative Hub in Newport to observe the charity’s weekly SingAbout session. Participants were pleased to have a visitor join the session and especially delighted when alongside fellow professional singer Thomas Cameron, Mike performed a duet from Les Misérables. Since then, Mike has written his Jubilee inspired tribute to Her Majesty, Heartbeat of Our Nation, with proceeds throughout June being donated to Independent Arts.

Of the appointment, Independent Arts Chief Executive Lisa Gagliani MBE says,

“We are incredibly grateful to have Mike on board in an official capacity which also recognises how aligned he is to our mission. Singing is just one of the artforms that Independent Arts uses to help build communities across the Isle of Wight. Regulars to our SingAbout sessions will testify that singing, in the company of others, does make a huge difference to how you feel, especially if you live alone. It makes you feel happier and even, more alive.”

Mike Christie said,

"I am very honoured to become an Ambassador for Independent Arts. When I founded the Wight Proms festival in 2018, I asked them to become our associated charity, as there is a natural synergy between us.

"Independent Arts is an absolute lifeline to so many who are isolated and makes a vital difference to their lives. As a singer who has also taught singing, coached and run workshops over many years, I have witnessed first-hand how music connects with people in ways that nothing else can. The confidence it gives participants and the transformation it makes to their lives.

"I believe the arts are the greatest healer and an unrivalled way to communicate; breaking down language barriers, uniting people and saving them from loneliness. I am very proud to be an ambassador for Independent Arts and look forward to continuing our relationship together."

Lisa Gagliani and Mike Christie

Lisa Gagliani, Chief Executive of Independent Arts, with Mike Christie


The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts

Tue 24 May 2022 @ 20:01

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

Participants, volunteers, staff and arts practitioners welcomed HRH The Earl of Wessex to Independent Arts Creative Hub in Newport on Tuesday afternoon. The visit was arranged by the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight Susie Sheldon as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The Earl and Countess of Wessex met a range of organisations that have worked tirelessly to support islanders through the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the hour-long visit to the arts for wellbeing charity, The Earl, a longstanding supporter of the arts, joined in with a demonstration of therapeutic Singing for Breathing and toured the Heritage Newport Mills gallery exhibition of art installations created by Young Carers, the Newport Scouts and Year 5 students from St Helen’s Primary School. His Royal Highness also learnt about the charity’s wellbeing workshops in care homes around the island, meeting some of the hugely talented musicians and artists who bring such joy to residents, particularly those with dementia.

The Earl heard about arts for wellbeing projects supporting young people and families across the Island, with a display of artworks from the Saturday Picture Play sessions, and by teenagers attending the Creative Hub to support their mental health.

Students from the Isle of Wight Education Federation showed their stunning display of Biosphere Birds sculpted from wire, created as part of a year-long Creative Biosphere collaboration with artist-in-residence Trudie Wilson.

Volunteers and participants from the weekly Creative Café group chatted to His Royal Highness as they stitched Jubilee bunting. The grand finale to the visit was a couple of rousing songs sung by all as part of the island-wide SingAbout sessions that are run weekly.

Wendy Varley, chair of trustees, said of the visit,

“It was a privilege to be able to show The Earl of Wessex how Independent Arts makes a real difference to people’s lives here on the island. It was a thoroughly enjoyable hour.”

Local weekly participant at the charity Margaret Loveridge, who showed His Royal Highness how to sew Jubilee bunting (pictured above), said afterwards,

“It was an honour to be invited to be part of the visit today, Independent Arts have given me so much, coming to their projects has helped me get my life back. The whole experience has been magical. It was my pleasure to represent the work of Independent Arts.”

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

The Earl inspects a working model of a Water Mill made by Young Carers on the Isle of Wight, shown with Lisa Gagliani, Independent Arts Chief Executive

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

The Earl joins the warm-up exercises for the Singing for Breathing demonstration

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

Ceramicist Kirstie Hayler shows the Earl some of the clay models made by participants of all ages at recent sessions

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

Community Engagement Manager Hannah Griffiths and Arts Manager Kerry Tindall show The Earl of Wessex around the Historic England Renew Project at Independent Arts Creative Hub

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

The Earl chatting with musicians JC and Kathy Grimshaw and Tony Nicholl who provide interactive workshops in island care homes, coordinated by Nicola Ward.

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

Programmes Manager Peta Rainford explains to His Royal Highness how the charity works with families and young people, supported by Arts Project Assistant Joanne Rigby

The Earl of Wessex visits Independent Arts (photo by Julian Winslow)

The Earl joins in with a singalong with SingAbout and Singing for Breathing participants

Photos by Julian Winslow


Jubilee Creative Chronicle

Tue 19 Apr 2022 @ 12:05

Creative Chronice Jubilee edition

Download Jubilee Creative Chronicle


Scan & Listen to Jubilee Creative Chronicle

Jubilee Creative Chronicle audio version

Thanks to Sight for Wight for assisting with the listenable edition


Independent Arts welcomes new trustees

Fri 11 Mar 2022 @ 17:02

Left to right: New trustees Josie Pook, Graham Barnetson and Jacquie Heany

Left to right: new trustees Josie Pook, Graham Barnetson and Jacquie Heany

Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts has welcomed three new trustees to its board.

Josie Pook is a Chartered Certified Accountant, fellow of the ACCA. She has more than 10 years’ experience with corporates in financial management, project management & IT in the UK and overseas. She is now advising businesses on strategy, finance & systems transformation with Quantifi.

She has a strong interest in the arts and says,

“I feel honoured to be joining such a wonderful charity as trustee and treasurer. Independent Arts is an exciting opportunity for me to give back to the community just as Independent Arts itself gives back to the community through its projects.”

Graham Barnetson is Chief Financial Officer at Red Funnel. He is a Chartered Management Accountant, Fellow of the Institute of Directors and Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Internal Audit and an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute.

His non-executive roles include business director at Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and vice-chair of Maritime UK Solent. Graham is also a governor at The Isle of Wight College.

Graham says,

”Loneliness, vulnerability and isolation can impact us all at times when we often least expect it. As a small charity on the Island, Independent Arts plays such a critical role in supporting, empowering and engaging people through their incredible programmes of arts that span all generations. Their work has never been more needed and I am delighted to be able to support them.”

Jacquie Heany has a background in Organisational Development and Human Resources gained in the private, public and charity sectors. Now retired, her last two roles were with international aid agencies, working at CAFOD as the Director of People and Performance and subsequently at World Vision UK where she was the Director of People and Business Excellence.

As a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Jacquie has contributed to the development of human resource standards in the public and charity sectors. She was previously on the Governing Board of an international charity based in Geneva.

Jacquie says,

“Independent Arts plays such a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people on our island. The reach and breadth of the charity’s work is already amazing, but the need within our community is great and is likely to become even greater. I feel privileged to join the Independent Arts team as a trustee and, I hope, make my own contribution to their essential work.”

Chief Executive Lisa Gagliani says,

“Trustees have an essential role in charities – they enable and challenge the team to be the best they can and they provide trusted confidence to supporters. At a time of growth in our charity, it’s essential to have these skilled senior volunteers onboard and we are so grateful to each of our trustees for the time they give.”

Chair of trustees Wendy Varley says,

“It’s heartening that our call-out for new trustees attracted such keen interest from experienced people who all want to give something back to the island in this voluntary strategic role. All our trustees appreciate how vital the arts are for boosting morale, health and confidence and keeping people connected. Jacquie, Graham and Josie’s additional support and skills will help the charity develop to benefit even more islanders.”

Independent Arts was founded in 1987 and uses the arts to improve people’s wellbeing, quality of life and to reduce social isolation on the Isle of Wight. Its popular community sessions include SingAbout, Singing for Breathing and DanceMakers; family learning, including Picture Play; and arts for young people, including Reconnect. It also delivers arts workshops in care homes across the island.

You can find out more about our board of trustees here and about what being a trustee involves here.


70 Mile May 2022

Thu 3 Mar 2022 @ 12:31

70 Mile May

Put your best foot forward in 2022 and support arts for wellbeing charity Independent Arts by taking part in their fundraiser, 70 Mile May, which returns for its second year. The challenge is to head outdoors and walk 70 miles through the month of May – that’s the equivalent of walking all the island’s coastal paths.

You can take part anywhere, tracking your miles online, raising money as you go.

Sharon Tate who took part in 2021, said:

“I enjoyed taking part for a worthwhile cause and it was good to be in the great outdoors fundraising for a charity close to my heart, exploring different areas of the island.”

New for 2022

70 Mile May provided not only a great fundraising success for Independent Arts in 2021, but also encouraged all those willing walkers who took part to take more outdoor exercise than they normally would during lockdowns. With fewer restrictions in 2022, the charity is adding even more to this free event, to make it more social.

This year by signing up you can socialise while you walk too! The charity is offering like-minded walkers and fundraisers a chance to join the Independent Arts team for organised guided walks throughout the month, varying in difficulty, themes and location. The charity hopes to add a new social element to the fundraising month.

Participants will also be able to join both the Independent Arts fundraisers Facebook group, and a brand new 70 Mile May Strava club, somewhere you can track your walks, but also share your activity with other fundraising walkers.

Participants will also be able to join a free nature walk, led by local expert Dave Fairlamb of Nature Links. This will take place in Bembridge, full details, date and time to be released to fundraisers soon (TBC)

Isle of Wight Walking Festival Event

Amongst other guided walks, Independent Arts will also be leading a free local history walk around Cowes on Thursday 12th May, as part of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival. This walk will take in historical and cultural buildings and sites around the town, meaning you can add some miles to your monthly total whilst making new friends and learning about a historic Isle of Wight town! (A link to the walk will be added once announced by IWWF.)

Sign Up Now!

It’s free to take part in 70 Mile May: To sign up you simply need to create your fundraising page on JustGiving. Independent Arts recommend a fundraising target of £70, however this is a target not an obligation; just raise what you can and walk as many miles throughout the month as possible!


Independent Arts is an Isle of Wight charity, established in 1987, using the arts to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to reduce social isolation. We believe that art is for all stages of life, and we deliver vital services across all ages, mindful of the range of needs. All funds raised by this annual event go directly to supporting isolated and vulnerable island residents, supporting them through the arts.

Independent Arts Chief Executive, Lisa Gagliani MBE said:

“We are hoping that many people will want to join us for 70 Mile May. It’s something most people can do without too much of a stretch and it’s the perfect antidote to the long winter and two years of pandemic gloom. The Isle of Wight is blessed with a beautiful natural landscape and so no one is far from breath-taking scenery. Fresh air and walking are a great way to have a meaningful chat with friends, family or to turn new acquaintances into companions. The monies raised and the conversations about the arts activities we offer, will help us reach more who need us most – the lonely and isolated.”


For further information please call 01983 822437 or email [email protected]

70 Mile May

70 Mile May

Images from 70 Mile May in 2021


News archives