Meet the Team


Nikki Locke

Job Title: Head of East Durham Creates

My role is to oversee the delivery of the whole programme and make sure we’re on track with doing what we set out to as part of our Arts Council England funded programme. A lot of my work is to see the bigger picture of East Durham Creates and ensuring that we are watching, listening, learning and making changes along the way.

I feel very lucky to have a job creating a programme of arts and cultural activity which works with, responds to and is inspired by East Durham – it’s nothing less than our people and place deserve! Working with such a lovely team, the great people who live here and partners who are passionate really helps to get through the days when things seem a bit tough. We all know if it was that easy, we wouldn’t have the funding in the first place and we all know we are involved with something really special.

Background: I studied drama at University but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do! Having this creative skill gave me lots of opportunities to try different jobs; from office administration on a building site in Sheffield to working in a holiday resort in Crete! Since returning to my roots in the arts in 2008 I have worked with the arts across Durham, including leading a youth arts programme in Wear Valley, directing Brass: Durham International Festival and working with lots of partners to increase engagement in the arts.

Favourite arts/creative memory: One of my favourite things is watching other people enjoy events, I’ll never forget walking around Lumiere Durham in 2011 and seeing the surprise on everyone’s faces! My personal memory is being given a lead role in a play at high school, I was so proud and it gave me loads of confidence – it was hard though (I was a shy teenager!).

How I like to be creative: In the office there’s nothing more exciting than working with others and creating new ideas – I love using the imagination to think of something magical! In my spare time I like to read, write, go to the theatre and am a big fan of cultural festivals and events, you’ll usually find me dancing (very badly) somewhere…


Contact Nikki:



IMG_0474Maria Abbott

Job Title: Communication & Engagement Assistant

My job involves posting updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about our latest creative projects. You’ll often find me helping out at our Cultural Hub theatre performances and our other art events. I enjoy drawing and recently helped create our Pirates of Crimdon Dene poster.

Background: I studied Fine Art at Newcastle University. During my degree I was involved with many projects such as running art & crafts workshops, setting up a temporary art gallery and organising a film festival.

Favourite arts/creative memory: My Degree Show exhibition opening night when I showed the art I’d been making all year. After my performance, I realised my whole family were in the gallery! It was a great moment.

How I like to be creative: I get creative in my spare time, thinking up new ideas for sculptures or short films. I like experimenting with different textiles and creating interesting patterns.

Contact Maria:



Cat Jarman_ IMG_1144[1]

Cat Jarman

Job Title: Creative Producer

Background: I studied Fine Art way back in the early 2000’s, since then most of my working life has been about getting more communities engaged within the arts. I have been working freelance for the past 5 years with Drop Everything, before this I worked for Newcastle City Council as an Arts Development Officer for 8 years. I have also worked for Groundwork Oldham & Rochdale, which started my work life mantra of being part of something that is about providing an equality of opportunity.

Favourite arts/creative memory: There are so many amazing projects I have been involved with over the years, from Cowgate FM where all the local taxis re-tuned into our station to World in Walker, A parade with 900+ children through Walker to celebrate the diversity of local residents and Heaton Arts Festival, celebrating the creativity within Byker & Heaton over 9 days and 50 events. My most lasting personal arts memory is coming first in a ‘draw the spider plant’ competition at school. This was a turning point for me as before then I liked art but didn’t realise I might be good at it too!

How I like to be creative: Since having two children I get to be creative through activities with them, be it arts and crafts at home, to designing their birthday parties, attending shows for children such as ‘My Grannie is a Pirate’ or experiences such as ‘Wonderfolk’ at Woodhorn. If I ever find myself with free time I will be trying to finish quilts from the childrens baby clothes or getting back into my photography.

Contact Cat:



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