We are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic news that our friend, actress and Metal trustee Josephine Melville has sadly passed away. A powerful advocate for arts and culture, Jo was a galvanizing figure amongst the creative community in Southend, whose work had a powerful and positive impact on the lives of so many.
Jo was part of our very first Village Green event, and often joined the line-up as a stage compere. In 2016, she hosted the Teatro Verdi Showcase stage, and in 2019 she hosted the N-Act Theatre Stage. This year, Jo was the guest host for Stand up for Diversity as part of Essex Writers House, delivered in partnership with Essex Cultural Diversity Project.
Over the years, Jo has been a regular contributor to our Pecha Kucha and Future Park events.
Alongside her work as an actor, writer, director and archivist, Jo consistently supported and mentored emerging talent in our city, providing opportunities to showcase new work and personally nurturing young artists of the next generation. Specifically, Jo was a guest mentor within a recent Metal New Artist Network programme, offering her expertise to support early career artists in developing new work, skills and networks.
Jo collected an amazing poster archive of Black theatre production across the UK which she exhibited at Chalkwell Hall. She brought people together across the community through the myriad of creative projects and events that she spearheaded, including the Hamlet Court Road in Harmony Festival and Time to Shine.
As founder of the South Essex African Caribbean Association (SEACA), Jo worked tirelessly to create initiatives, projects and events to break down cultural barriers and to enhance community cohesion, while helping to build, promote and share African and Caribbean culture in Essex. When SEACA first launched, Jo held the initial monthly meetings at Chalkwell Hall. Most recently, Jo organized the inaugural East Beach Festival which celebrated Southend’s City Status and 60 years of Jamaican independence.
Jo was an enthusiastic, loyal and irreplaceable friend to our NetPark Wellbeing project. Since we started the project in 2016, Jo helped many of our participants from the African Caribbean community who had moved from London, to feel less isolated in the city and to connect with others in the Southend area. The recent East Beach Festival that Jo devised, fundraised and spirited into existence, was another chance for our participants from the Caribbean to celebrate their culture with others.
Jo’s creativity, warmth and generosity will never be forgotten. A true inspiration.
We send our love and condolences to all her family and friends.