Drag, cabaret, opera, musical theatre, children’s theatre and live art
Director and Chief Executive, HOME Director of Culture for Manchester City Council
Reader in Screen Studies, Chair of Manchester Jazz Festival, School of Digital Arts (SODA), Manchester Metropolitan University
Poet, Playwright, Performer, Founder of Poetry Health Service, Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow, Associate Artist Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Gabrielle Jenks is an artistic director and curator whose major contributions are in the converging areas of cinema, visual arts and creative technology. She currently holds the position of Digital Director at Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original, new work. She has a keen interest in new cinematic practices and over 15 years has worked with numerous artists and designers in conceptualizing projects including the Yes Men, Pipilotti Rist, Gillian Wearing and Rafael Lozano Hemmer. Previously, Gabrielle was Director of Abandon Normal Devices and sits on advisory boards for the BFI and the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Cold War Steve aka Christopher Spencer is an artist from Birmingham, England who specialises in surreal, satirical and hilarious collages originally made on his phone and iPad.
Since 2016 Cold War Steve’s Twitter account has been a lifeline to many in these dark times with his following increasing by the day. Three solo exhibitions, two books with Thames & Hudson, commissions for the National Galleries of Scotland, Whitworth in Manchester, Birmingham Museum and Gallery, a giant billboard installation at Glastonbury Festival and an international TIME magazine cover have all followed.
In 2020 his jigsaw Hellscape was shortlisted for the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award and his latest book A Prat’s Progress nominated for the The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. Cold War Steve also shot a feature length documentary about his work - Cold War Steve Meets The Outside World was released in October on Sky Arts.
Photo Credit: Ian Greenland
Stella Kanu is Executive Director at LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre)previously as Executive Producer at Ovalhouse she spent 4 years overseeing a comprehensive artistic, organisational and community-led transition as Ovalhouse (now Brixton House) constructed London’s newest purpose built £15m theatre in Brixton; She created the concept design for Black Womxn in Theatre (2018) and is co-curator of BWinT events, the #WeAreVisible movement (2019) , #AllofUs and the #HereToStay redundancy care Package (2020) & iconic photoshoot of over 250 Black Womxn in Theatre at The Globe in 2019.
She has worked in the theatre, festival and cultural sector for over 27 years shaping ideas, communities, events, people and organisations for great shifts. Working in the UK & US including Soundwave Cumbria where she was CEO, Cardboard Citizens Theatre Company, Harlem Stage, Africa Centre, Dance UK, Theatre Royal Margate, Tomorrows’ Warriors and Clean Break Theatre, and has developed local and city wide festivals including Brixton City Festival (2017-2019) DIY Music Festival (Cumbria), Southampton Live Street Arts Festival, A-List Festival (London), Africa Centre Children’s’ Literature Festival (London). Stella created The Pivotal Place to coach and mentor emerging, mid-career and established leaders across multiple sectors, and is a long-term leadership mentor on Engage’s UK wide Leadership Programme, Extend.
Stella is a former Powerbrokers International Leadership Fellow (Cultural Leadership Programme, 2008), she is a sought-after speaker, strategic brain and trainer on topics including Diversity in Theatre, Inspired Leadership, Art/Activism and Women & power.
A graduate of the UK’s first full time BA Writing course, she was one of the first cohort on MA Coaching and Mentoring Practice at Oxford Brookes University. Stella is a practising writer, musician and maker. She has served on boards including Creative Margate (including interim Chair) and New Writing South, Stella is currently London Mayoral appointee at ACE Area Council London, member of Race Accountability Group, Co-Chair at ACE National Race Advisory Group and Chair at Eclipse Theatre, an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation based in Leeds and the UK’s Black Theatre & Production Company.
Phot credit: Sharron Wallace
Michael Jenkins is co-founder of Blak Wave Productions, a self shooting producer, director and writer of tv & film. He is motivated to bring untold and unheard stories to as wide an audience as possible. He has won multiple awards including Best Short film for ‘Check the Label’ at The Royal Television Society Awards 2018 and two BBC Local Radio Gillard Awards for Diversity and Community. He recently directed ‘The Shadow of Slavery’, as part of the Channel 4 series ‘Take your knee off my neck’ and also a short spoken word film for BBC Arts called ‘We are not virus’. He was voted one of the most influential people in the Bristol BME Powerleist 2018.
Amahra Spence is a cultural producer, artist and founder of MAIA. In 2013, she set up the organisation to support artists in striving for justice, through platforming, resource redistribution and building social infrastructure.
In Spring 2021, MAIA will launch YARD, an arthouse and residency space. This project catalyses the first phase of development for ABUELOS, the artist-led hotel and cultural hub, redistributing the cultural sector’s hospitality built spend to nurture a space and practices built on the values of justice, reclamation, joy and ancestry.
In 2020, Amahra established the Black Land & Spatial Justice project following a campaign which raised over £30,000. She was also invited to join England’s first Land Commission, working with the Liverpool City Region mayor to review and suggest uses for public land for community wealth building.
Photo credit: Thom Bartley
Javaad Alipoor is an artist, writer and Artistic Director of The Javaad Alipoor Company.
He is a former ACE Changemaker and was Resident Associate Director at Sheffield Theatres (2017/18) where he directed a new adaptation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for The Crucible, and prior to this was Associate Director at Theatre in the Mill from 2015 to 2017.
In 2017, Javaad began writing a trilogy of plays about how technology, resentment and fracturing identities are changing the world. The Believers Are But Brothers (2017) opened in Edinburgh where it won a Fringe First Award, before transferring to London’s Bush Theatre. It has toured nationally and internationally, and in 2019 was commissioned for television by the BBC and The Space, and adapted and produced by the Company as its first screen project. The play’s sequel – Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran (2019) – premiered at the Traverse Theatre, winning a Fringe First Award. Its London transfer and subsequent national tour was postponed by Covid-19, inspiring the creation of a new digital version for online audiences. This version went on to tour online, including at the Public Theater's Under The Radar festival and Sundance Film Festival.
Le Gateau Chocolat’s work spans drag, cabaret, opera, musical theatre, children’s theatre and live art. His bewitching baritone has been heard in previous works Le Gateau Chocolat (2011), I ❤ Chocolat (2012), In Drag (2013 Royal Festival Hall commission) and BLACK (2014 Homotopia commission), which toured with music ensemble Psappha in 2017.
His children’s show Duckie premiered at the Southbank Centre in 2016, and was included in the Guardian’s ‘6 of the Best Shows for Children’ of the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show, which introduces young people to the ideas of otherness, tolerance and self-acceptance, has been presented at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Wales Millennium Centre, Roundhouse, Contact Theatre and across venues in the South East of England.
His recent production ICONS has toured to Sydney Festival, Wales Millennium Centre, Soho Theatre, Underbelly Southbank and more. ICONS has also been presented with accompaniment from the Little Coco Orchestra, a Le Gateau Chocolat initiative to support diverse musicians through the creation of an ensemble formed entirely of women of colour. This up-scaled production premiered at SPILL Festival in 2018, with a subsequent presentation at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire as part of SHOUT Festival.
As a technically-gifted and celebrated baritone, Le Gateau Chocolat has been invited to perform at prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Centre, Sydney Opera House, and as part of the Olivier-Award winning La Clique/La Soiree.
He has worked with composers Julian Philips, Jonathan Dove, Jocelyn Pook and Orlando Gough. He has performed as Feste in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe (2017) and in the Gate Theatre and English National Opera co-production Effigies of Wickedness – Songs banned by the Nazis (2018).
He also appeared as part of Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The First Act at London’s Barbican Theatre (2019),and alongside Shaq Taylor, Adrian Lester, Beverley Knight and Clive Rowe in the guest role of Daddy Brubeck for the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Sweet Charity (2019).
Le Gateau Chocolat most recently appeared in Wagner’s Tannhauser, starring Stephen Gould, which opened the 108th Bayreuth Festival in 2019 and attracted headlines around the world for the reaction to his participation as a drag artist of colour.
Photo Credit: Eli Schmidt
Sacha Coward is a museum freelancer, he specialises in LGBTQ+ history and representation, he also develops and delivers escape rooms and immersive experiences for museums and heritage around the world.
During lockdown myself and Dan Vo started a grass roots movement over social media called #MuseumFromHome. The goal was to continue to share great short (1 minutes) stories and content relating to museums and heritage even though the museums themselves were closed to the public. This grew into a huge international movement and even 2 days of live BBC broadcasts!
Dubbed “a leading figure in the world of alternative museum tours in Britain” by the New York Times, Dan Vo is a freelance museum consultant and media producer working in LGBTQIA+ museum tours and cultural programming (V&A, National Museum Cardiff, Tate Britain, Imperial War Museum, University of Cambridge Museums, Charleston Trust). Recently appointed project manager of the Queer Heritage and Collections Network, a partnership formed of the National Trust, English Heritage, Historic England, Historic Royal Palaces, the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries supported by the Art Fund, he supports more than 50 collections working in queer history across the UK. Recent work includes coordinating LGBTQIA+ outreach projects for the National Museums Scotland, Hull Museums, and Cornwall Museums Partnership. He co-hosted the BBC Arts ‘Museum From Home’ and ‘Museum Passion’ day of live programming. He is a Museums Association Transformer, fellow of the Arts Marketing Association Future Proof Museums, patron of LGBT+ History Month, a Stonewall BAME Role Model, trustee of Culture24 and on steering committees for the Pitt Rivers Museum, Historic England and Imperial War Museum.
Kris Halpin, aka Dyskinetic, is a singer, songwriter and live performer. Primarily known for using Imogen Heap’s groundbreaking MiMu Gloves, Kris has used the gloves to overcome his own physical access barriers. Kris is a disabled person, and his work happens at the intersection between Music, Technology & Disability. Kris has performed extensively at international level, taking his live show The Gloves Are On across the UK, Europe, to the US and Japan. Kris has performed at many prestigious venues including Abbey Road Studios, The European Union Headquarters, the Kennedy Center and Kawasaki Symphony Hall. The Gloves Are On received mainstream media attention on BBC 1 and BBC Radio 1, and was nominated for the National Lottery Award for Best Arts Project in 2017. During lockdown Kris has been working remotely with choreographer Ayaka Takai to explore the intersection between music, disability and movement, and is currently recording his debut album.
Image by Josefa Torres
Jane's practice explores the impact of storytelling, immersion, intimacy, shared experience and human connection. Jane designs interactive theatre, interactive audio, game, 360 film, virtual reality and augmented reality. Jane works as a writer, producer and director, freelance artist, collaborator and guest lecturer. Jane has an ongoing residency at the Pervasive Media Studio, Watershed, Bristol). In 2009 (ongoing) Jane founded the In My Shoes Project, an ever expanding library of over 100 interactive audio and audio visual experiences.
Tarik Elmoutawakil is an artist, programmer, creative producer as well as Founder and Co-Artistic Director at Marlborough Productions in Brighton, the UK’s only performing arts orgnasiation dedicated to intersectional queer arts. His current public work is entitled 'Brownton Abbey', an Afro-Futures Performance Party that centres disabled QTIPOC (queer, trans and intersex People of Colour). Brownton Abbey reclaims and reinterprets QTIPOC spirituality and ritual, channelling it into an out-of-this-world, accessible party.
Jonny Cotsen was born in Cardiff, Wales. Jonny is a qualified graphic designer and teacher but has left his professional career to develop himself as a performance artist, facilitator and consultant for inclusion in the arts. Jonny developed and wrote the Arts Council Wales Toolkit for venues and theatre companies, which provides a guidance on how to improve access for D/deaf, deafened and heard of hearing audiences in Wales. Jonny also runs inclusive drama workshops and is a Deaf Equality trainer for people with and without disabilities, and is a trustee for Disability Arts Cymru and Theatr Iolo. Jonny is an artist residence with Pervasive Media Studio based at the Watershed, Bristol working on a new immersive theatre piece which is designed for social change. He does public speaking and enjoys being on panel discussions on access provision in the arts with Unlimited Connects, Disability Arts Cymru and at other events. He is currently completed a successful run at Edinburgh Fringe with ‘Louder Is Not Always Clearer’, produced and directed by Mr and Mrs Clark and will be touring* across the UK and Europe in 2020/21. His other performing credits include: ‘English' (Quarantine and National Theatre Wales), ‘Ways Of Being Together’ (Jo Fong), Cardiff: City Road Stories (Sherman Theatre). Being in lockdown has enabled me to slow down, think about what the does the future, or the ‘new normal’ looks like. It feels we need to ‘reset the button’. Making big changes that has a social impact and we don’t back to how we were before.
Jo believes that ‘different’ is delicious not divergent, embedding the belief that diversity adds texture, turning policy into real action.
Jo is senior producer for Unlimited - a commissions programme for disabled artists, working to get work seen, discussed and embedded within the cultural fabric of the UK with partners such as ACE, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, Southbank Centre and the British Council. Since 2013, Unlimited has provided over £4 million over 300 disabled artists through commissions, awards and support, making it the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide.
Jo has won Cosmopolitan’s woman of achievement award, is a Clore fellow, is on the board of the Global Disability Innovation Hub, The Space and the Northern ACE advisory panel. She’d like it to be known that whatever the government guidance, she doesn’t see herself as being ‘extremely vulnerable’, more ‘made vulnerable’ by the lack of support, systems and policies in place. And she would always like to be resuscitated.
During the crisis Unlimited kept going, focusing on getting money to disabled artists in any way that it could – with micro awards, new partnerships, paid blog content, insta take overs and more. For a full run down: https://weareunlimited.org.uk/unlimited-what-have-we-done-since-lockdown/
Dave Moutrey is Director and Chief Executive of HOME a purpose built 7,500m2 multi art form venue that opened in May 2015. In this role he conceived and led both the merger of Cornerhouse and Library Theatre Company and the £25m capital project to create HOME.
HOME includes 5 cinema screens, education spaces, digital production and broadcast facilities, a 500 seat theatre, 150 seat flexible theatre, 500m2 gallery space, café bar, restaurant, offices and other ancillary spaces consistent with a production centre. It is a ‘making place’, providing new opportunities for artists and audiences to create work in a different way together, as well as a social and cultural hub. Dave has overall artistic control of the programme and executive produces major film, theatre and exhibition projects working closely with this team of Artistic Directors.
In April 2018 Dave was seconded to Manchester City Council in a part time role of Director of Culture. He is responsible for advising the Council on policy and strategy for culture and working closely with the Cultural Leaders Group on joint working and other collaborative initiatives.
Dave has worked in Manchester in leadership roles in the arts since 1984. He was awarded a Doctor of Arts honoris causa by the University of Salford is a Fellow of the RSA, a member of the Chartered Management Institute, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Dave is also an advisor to the British Council and holds a number of nonexecutive roles on not-for-profit boards.
Jimmy Fay has been Executive Producer and Artistic Director at the Lyric Theatre since 2014 and is former Associate Artist and Literary Director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
As part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, which aimed to continue to bring culture into the homes of audiences during lockdown, the Lyric Theatre collaborated with BBC on some new theatre commissions from Northern Ireland.
The six new short drama commissions from some of Northern Ireland’s biggest names in writing and acting – including Lisa McGee (Derry Girls) and Conleth Hill (Game Of Thrones) – explored the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the title Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama, the five minute theatrical pieces were broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland in June and made available afterwards on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on theatres across the country, forcing the closure of all of them for the foreseeable future. For over 50 years the Lyric had never closed its doors until now, but as a production company, they were able to continue their work with this programme.
Dr Kirsty Fairclough is Reader in Screen Studies at the School of Digital Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University and Chair of Manchester Jazz Festival, Manchester’s longest running music festival.
During lockdown Kirsty collaborated with United We Stream and Jazz North to pivot the entirety of Manchester Jazz Festival’s 25th anniversary festival online.
A speaker, author and curator, Kirsty’s current research areas centre on the intersections of popular culture, celebrity studies and popular music with an emphasis on the life and legacy of Prince. Kirsty has published widely on popular culture and is the co-editor of Prince and Popular Culture, The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop, The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment and Music/Video: Forms, Aesthetics, Media. and author of the forthcoming Beyoncé: Celebrity Feminism and Popular Culture.
Kirsty’s work has been published in Senses of Cinema, Feminist Media Studies, SERIES and Celebrity Studies journals and she is a regular commentator on popular culture featuring on BBC News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Manchester, and in The Guardian and Creative Review amongst others.
James co-founded Stan’s Cafe in 1991 with the ambition of exploring and extending theatre’s playful relationship with its live audience. A long string of arresting and highly original productions have followed, gaining the company critical and popular acclaim alongside invitations to perform around the world.
James completed an MPhil studying the use of electronic mediation within live performance in 1998 and with the advent of accessible streaming technologies directed Tuning Out With Radio Z , an improvised theatre and radio show with built-in audience digital engagement, in 2010. ‘Lockdown’ has finally forced him to address online performance directly. The result is Stan’s Internet Cafe, a typically thoughtful, playful and seductive range of online performances. Film On The Radio - sports radio commentaries of famous films; The Anatomy Of Melancholy - 35 single shot performances adapting a 400 year old self-help manual and For Quality Purposes a 24 minute performance shot on Zoom inspired by our relationship to call centres.
Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a Manchester-based poet, playwright & performer originally from East London. Founder and co-director of Outside The Frame Arts, she is passionate about championing voices outside the mainstream.
Winner of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship 2019, she is an Associate Artist with The Poetry Exchange, Associate Artist with Oldham Coliseum Theatre and Supported Artist at The Royal Exchange Theatre. Her play Cuts Of The Cloth was commissioned for PUSH Festival 2019. Her debut poetry collection The Celox And The Clot is published by Burning Eye Books. She has worked creatively with Manchester International Festival, Ballet Black Ldn, HOME Theatre Mcr, Manchester Literature Festival and ANU Productions Irl. Current works include developing a SICK! Festival commission, Four Dholis And A Divorce exploring mental health set within the South Asian community and writing a libretto for The Bridge Between Breaths, a Tete-a -Tete Opera Festival commission.
She is founder of the Poetry Health Service, an Oldham Coliseum Theatre Homemakers commission providing poetry panaceas by the people for the people. Launched in July 2020 during lockdown, the PHS is a creative service offering both contemporary and classical poetry as a tool for connection and healing with over 80 contributors.
Kevin has been at HOME for 6 years and co-ordinates all HOME produced/co-produced productions as well as working on HOME festivals such as Orbit and Push.
Prior to HOME he worked at Harrogate Theatres, Wakefield Theatres and the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
He is on the board of Interplay Theatre, one of the UKs leading makers of sensory theatre.
Pawlet Brookes is the founder, CEO and artistic director of Serendipity, the diversity-led arts organisation in Leicester. Pioneering the establishment of an annual dance festival in Leicester since 2011, Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF), and coordinates the high profile annual Black History Month Leicester.
An experienced and highly respected senior manager and producer, Pawlet has been at the forefront of the development of Black arts in the UK since she was appointed Marketing Manager at the Nia Centre (Manchester) in the 90s, then Artistic Director of Peepul Centre (Leicester) and ultimately Chief Executive of Rich Mix (London). In her extensive career, she has worked alongside a wide range of international artists, directors and companies and edited several publications, most recently Reflections: Cultural Voices of Black British Irrepressible Resilience.
Pawlet was a finalist for the 2009 National Regeneration and Renewals Award for Cultural Leadership, BME Leader of the Year at the East Midlands Women’s Awards 2018 and was awarded One Dance UK’s Outstanding Programme Award for LDIF in 2018.
Lockdown was a period of quick creative responses for Serendipity. Having held the press launch for Let’s Dance International Frontiers on Thursday 12 March, we made the decision to postpone the festival on Monday 16 March and by Friday 20 March had announced Alternative LDIF20, an online programme of dance films, discussion and performances.
Linda Spurdle is the Head of Digital at Birmingham Museums Trust, leading on digital strategy, digital engagement and ICT across Birmingham Museums Trust. She has spearheaded Birmingham's open access policy, which has made thousands of out of copyright images free to use without restrictions. The online image resource and the partnership with Unsplash has resulted in these images being viewed millions or times and downloaded by hundreds of thousands, and the lockdown period saw more people than ever use these resources.
Early in 2020 Cut Copy Remix project challenged artists to create new works with open access images. Working with Cold War Steve and the Black Hole Club, the project was to culminate in an exhibition and opening event in April 2020. As a result of lockdown it became a digital first project, and was the perfect tonic for the time, having a huge reach and inspiring many people.
Despite the challenges of shutdown and three quarters of staff being furloughed, the museum has been more digitally engaged than ever, with new projects that have focused on community, well being and creativity.
Abby Corfan is Director of Marketing at the Donmar Warehouse, a job she started a week before theatres were closed… Since lockdown began the Donmar has been experimenting with new ways of sharing stories with audiences; firstly online with a digital production of the one-woman play ‘Midnight Your Time’, and by partnering with the National Theatre for a NT at Home stream of the Donmar’s hit production of ‘Coriolanus’. And last month, the theatre was one of the first to (temporarily) re-open with a socially distanced sound installation – ‘Blindness’ – where visitors listened on headphones to the voice of Juliet Stevenson in an immersive binaural soundscape. The initial run of Blindness sold out and was extended by two weeks. Abby will share some of the challenges and learnings from these different projects, and how Donmar audiences have responded to these new kinds of theatrical experiences.
Prior to joining the Donmar Abby was Director of Marketing & Digital at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. She is a board member for the Arts Marketing Association.
Katy Raines (Founding Partner, Indigo) is regarded as one of the UK’s leading consultants on data-driven marketing for Cultural Organisations, and as such has developed and led research and implementation programmes for large and middle scale organizations throughout the UK and Europe. Prior to becoming a consultant in 2006 she held a number of senior marketing roles in large scale cultural organisations, holds a Music degree from Cambridge University and a 1st-class MBA from Durham University.
During the 2020 Covid-19 crisis she recognized the need for the audience voice to be critical in the rapid decision-making that needed to happen in cultural organisations, and as a result she developed and delivered the largest survey of cultural attenders’ attitudes to returning to events – After the Interval - working with over 500 organisations and capturing responses from over 250,000 attenders.
Over the last 6 months she has worked with a range of organisations to help them with their plans for re-start, including UK Sport, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, HOME Manchester, The MAC Belfast, Outdoor Arts UK, Creative Scotland, Family Arts Campaign and Culture Central.
Helga Henry is a consultant who, prior to lockdown, worked extensively with staff teams and boards in strategic away days. Specialising in working in the cultural sector, her work literally shut down on March 16th along with the theatres.