Change of Leadership at Forest Forge!


Forest Forge, the New Forest’s professional theatre company, has this week announced an exciting change of leadership, with Lucy Phillips and Jo Billingham appointed Co-Artistic Directors. 


Lucy Phillips has been Forest Forge’s Creative Learning Director for 25 years. Having grown up in the New Forest Lucy has a deep understanding of the area and community.  She takes the lead at the organisation after 25 years with the company, during which time she has developed Forest Forge’s participatory work. Throughout her tenure she has directed over 12 professional productions and over 60 youth theatre shows, developing the youth theatre so it is one of the most respected in the south.  


Lucy is joined by Co-Artistic Director Jo Billingham.  Jo has worked with Forest Forge for over 10 years, leading on the education and engagement programmes. Alongside this Jo is the Director of The Outsiders Project, a programme of activities designed to support and promote marginalised artists.  


Lucy and Jo have worked closely together at Forest Forge for the last decade and are excited about joining forces as new leaders of the company. Together they will be responsible for delivering exciting programmes of work to serve the local community.  


Lucy and Jo are taking up their new posts immediately and are already working on some exciting programmes. They say: “We are honoured to be at the helm of Forest Forge. The company has had a huge impact on our creative lives, and we are grateful for the opportunity to take the company forward. We have worked hard to develop a plan that propels the company forward and puts theatre back at the heart of the local community.” 


Lucy and Jo are joined by Sophie Fullerlove as Business Manager until December 2024. Sophie is a consultant and theatre producer who has worked with many leading organisations and was the company’s general manager from 2010 – 2012. They are also supported by the extended staff team of Helen Bradley and Colin Bull.  


Forest Forge has been an important part of the cultural life of the New Forest for over 40 years. In 2023 the company moved premises to a new location in Ringwood from where they create new theatre productions and deliver workshops to over 100 people, including adults, young people and those with learning disabilities, each week.  Following the move Forest Forge is creating ambitious new programmes and activities that use theatre to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Activities will include creating new flexible ‘suitcase story’ performances available to tour to schools, the development of the beloved Christmas Show and enhancement of the current participatory programmes including increasing opportunities for young people to take part in theatre making. Alongside all this, the company are thrilled to be increasing their support for local theatre artists by re-igniting their artist development strand, offering training and mentorship support to creatives in the New Forest and beyond.