Jenna Thorne Is New Artistic Director of Talitha Arts

Amanda Root
Amanda Root writes

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit what changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”
– Maya Angelou


Talitha seeks to restore dignity, hope and worth for those who have experienced trauma, abuse, violence, homelessness and for those living with dementia. We believe the freedom of the creative arts can transform what binds us, and enable what is valuable, unique, and meaningful to the individual to rise up and flourish

“Talitha Cumi” from Mark’s Gospel chapter 5 sums us up well – “little girl, arise”. When creatives unite their skills amazing things can happen. The innovation that has emerged from the Covid 19 pandemic has united us in our common humanity and stirred compassion through our shared experience.

Every yellow heart, rainbow, choir, photograph, poem, street disco, or home video reflects the vital role that creativity plays in expressing the inexpressible and connecting us to one another.

We recently held our first Talitha Zoom Open Day (!) for those interested in becoming Talitha Practitioners. I was so encouraged by the enthusiasm of those who attended. Talitha continues to attract gifted creatives to get involved, and we have much to offer in the wake of Covid 19, and the impact on mental health, domestic violence, and the elderly.

In my 10 years of steering and leading Talitha I have had the deep privilege and joy to work with many gifted actors, musicians, dancers, artists, and art therapists, as well as brilliant management teams who have united their skills to enable Talitha’s unique vision to unfold.

We are grateful to have partnered with IJM in India, with Word Made Flesh and La Casa de mi Padre in Bolivia, and in Jersey giving birth to Kairos Arts led by the remarkable Cathy Sara. Before lockdown, we were exploring a partnership with Chora Chori in Nepal.

We have expanded our work in the UK, and our partner organisations include Medaille, Refuge, Pret a Manger, as well as Dalemead Care Home for the elderly.

As Talitha grows so do the day to day business and management demands of the charity. New energy and skills are needed to run the charity well, and I have often felt caught between these needs and the investment required in our creative development to ensure we reach our full potential.

After much thought and prayer, I have therefore decided to step down as Artistic Director, and to hand over to someone who has the strategic and operational skills appropriate for this stage of our progress.

I remain passionate about our vision to use the arts to bring restoration and healing, and I look forward to continuing to develop and deliver our creative material, which is where I believe I can serve Talitha best.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Jenna Thorne (currently Associate Artistic Director for Talitha) will take on the role of Talitha’s new Artistic Director from the beginning of July.

Jenna is also Creative Arts Director for LifeWorks Creative Arts Centre, Loughton, and she has far exceeded expectations in her role as Talitha’s Associate Artistic Director. Her mix of dynamic creative and business expertise means she has much to offer Talitha in her new role.

I am so grateful for Jenna and for the incredible tenacity and courage of the many talented people who have travelled the Talitha journey with me.

Too many to name here, but I trust you know who you are.
Those who have strived to see us flourish, those who have steered our development, offered training, put business structures in place, fundraised, supported us with prayers, donations and grants.

To Terry Tennens, who championed our work with the International Justice Mission, to our inspired Board of Trustees, our partner organisations, and our committed Talitha Practitioners, who invest wholeheartedly of their time and skills. I am so proud of all we have accomplished through your perseverance and faith.

Finally, to my wonderful Talitha team;

Gaynor Yeomans (Head of Administration), Jenna Thorne (currently Associate Artistic Director), Alastair McIver (Head of Fundraising) and Kate Snowden, Talitha’s Therapeutic Director, who has taught me so much, and with whom I have had the hounour to work alongside for 7 happy years.

Thank you all for your belief in Talitha! In our crazy mix of songs, laughter, coloured scarves, squidgy clay and that indefinable spirit and energy that permeates our workshops, drawing participants into new hope and freedom with palpable radiance and light.

I leave you with a poem by Dalemead Practitioner Kate Chambers, who depicts the contagious spirit of our work beautifully well…

With much love, and great hope for our future,

Amanda x


‘The Gang’

by Kate Chambers

I want to be back with the Talitha gang
I miss the madness of it
The 10 am Dalemead visits
with the clan.
I miss that sense of occasion
With the team bundling in
With the plans we’ve planned we want to share,
When we’re there
and ready to launch in
When we’re stood
amidst the bags and the boxes
And the flowers and what nots, with-
Offers of coffees and cups of tea
And we pass round the biscuits, one pack gluten free
And we’re gathered
we’re huddled in circles,
And there’s quick rehearsals of how we’ll start
There’s this chaotic joy.
A contagious spirit.
I sometimes think there’s no limit to this teams generosity
I would stop and look to them and see,
such a huge capacity to love…
I just want to be there again amongst it.
And I know that will come.
When our world has healed
And we can gather again
Travel further afield
We’ll be there.
Let’s hope for soon.
So guitars at the ready
We’ll be strumming our tunes
We’ll be back.

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