About CoCreate

CoCreate: to create something by working with other people

CoCreate is a community interest company based in Dorset, and working in South West England.

Led by three arts and health professionals, our wealth of combined experience, and our varied backgrounds have come together to create new projects which are about making great art and improving wellbeing.

Meet the team

We are Gemma, Deborah and Anna: three creatives who between us have many years of experience working in arts, health and wellbeing. 

Individually we work in theatre, creative writing, puppetry and visual arts and we bring these creative skills to our work with people. 

And you…. The most important member of the team! 

All CoCreate projects are developed collaboratively. Together we work to make beautiful things happen; using the arts and creativity to enable people to connect, to tell their stories and transform their lives.

More about us

Anna Shiels – Co-director

Gemma Alldred – Co-director

Deborah Aita – Co-director

Anna is a socially-engaged artist and an experienced project manager, arts fundraiser and evaluator. She started her career working in adult mental health services but has worked in local authority arts development since 2000. During this time she developed a particular interest in arts, health and wellbeing; working with numerous groups, individuals and organisations on wide-ranging creative projects. 

Anna knows from her own lived experience the power of the arts to support mental health and emotional wellbeing, to aid recovery and to make sense of our experiences.

She brings her skills in puppetry and visual arts, her passion for working with people and the firm belief that inspiration and beauty can be found all around. 

Gemma is a theatre maker, writer and community artist. In 2008 she co-founded the award winning, York based, organisation Converge, and led the work of Out of Character theatre company. Through this work she developed a love for working in arts and mental health, produced events, new performances, and worked across art forms to mentor community artists of the future. 

In 2013 Gemma moved to Bournemouth, bringing her expertise to addiction settings with Vita Nova, where she developed the organisations work, built a studio theatre, developed a successful associate artist programme and even led a couple of festivals! 

Gemma is trained in contemporary theatre, and has worked professionally across the sector working with charities, venues, and with touring companies, sharing her expertise in community and participation work.

She has shared her knowledge of arts and mental health work for academic publications and conferences. Gemma is a visiting lecturer, and teaches in further education. She has a special interest in evaluation, documentation, and training for the sector. 

Deborah worked as an actor for fifteen years in theatre and multidisciplinary arts with companies such as Lumiere & Son and Royal Theatre Northampton before moving into teaching in further and higher education.

After moving to Bournemouth in 2003 she worked for a number of years for Creative Partnerships Southampton, producing and delivering many arts and drama based projects in educational settings, as well as delivering to conferences on creative practice and wellbeing.

She has written plays, two of which were produced with long professional tours for Forest Forge Theatre Company and Vienna’s English Theatre. She retrained as a dramatherapist, registering in 2008, and worked for nine years as arts psychotherapist for Weldmar Hospicecare, leading their arts therapy team. She now works freelance as a therapist with a range of client groups and individuals, particularly with children and young people who have experienced trauma.


Let’s make something together.