Meet our participants
State of Emergency Productions
Deborah trained at the University of Surrey and went on to gain an MA in Performance Arts at Middlesex University. In 2006 she was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2010, she received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to dance. Following on from her early career as a performer and then in education as a Senior Lecturer in Dance, in 1986, Deborah set up State of Emergency, a performance and production company committed to the creation of high-quality work, and to creativity and innovation in the fields of dance and music.
Former Artistic Director & Co-CEO
Kat has invested her time and energy in Greenwich Dance since January 2000. Independently, she has lectured, taught, and devised dance in education programmes, authored evaluative reports, offered mentoring, and engaged in peer-to-peer support. Kat's particular expertise is centred on curating and producing dance projects, event experiences, and support for dance artists to develop their practice. She has a committed interest in the power of dance developed and shared beyond a traditional theatre context and creating experiences to bring people together.
Artistic Director & Conductor
Robin Browning is an established orchestral conductor. He has conducted the RPO, Danish RSO, and Ensemble Intercontemporain, amongst others, and is a sought-after conducting teacher, including as Professor of Conducting at the University of Southampton. In 2015, he formed SÓN, Southampton's first and only professional orchestra, which aims to bring great music to as wide an audience throughout the south as possible. Their concert series in Turner Sims, Romsey Abbey, and other fine venues, allied to inspiring education projects and cross-genre artistic work, play a vital part in the city's ongoing cultural regeneration.
Kirsty Bullen recently took up the post of Finance Director at Opera North, a national opera company based in Leeds. Opera North’s award-winning work tours to theatre stages and concert halls throughout the North and beyond, including to London and major international festivals. It also curates an eclectic artistic programme of gigs, concerts, spoken word and film in the Howard Assembly Room and runs an exceptional programme of education and community engagement work.
Prior to her current post, Kirsty was Executive Director at The Tetley, a contemporary art gallery in Leeds with a core programme of exhibitions, residencies and participation
Her background as an experienced chartered accountant, along with working experience in both the arts and the corporate sector, brings a wide range of operational experience. As a music and art history graduate, Kirsty is passionate about delivering financial insight, commerciality, and operational solutions whilst understanding the demands and priorities of arts organisations.
Annette is responsible for designing, developing, and implementing Collective Encounters’ strategic plans, as well as day-to-day operations. Before working with Collective Encounters, Annette worked extensively with Graeae and undertook a number of senior-level roles within the arts and community sector. Annette studied Arts Administration at London Metropolitan University and also has an honours degree in Law.
Production Director and Chair
Helen Storey Foundation
Caroline has unparalleled insight into the challenges facing micro arts organisations, following thirty years in the creative sector, working in both commercial fashion and in project-funded work. Caroline has developed and produced 100 exhibitions presenting Professor Storey’s cross-sectorial collaborations of fashion, science, and technology, which disruptively tackle a range of global issues from climate change to the plight of refugees through the vehicle of ‘dress’. A former teacher and published author, Caroline is an ardent advocate for creative education.
Dr Helen Charman
Director of Learning and National Programmes
Victoria and Albert Museum
Helen Charman is a cultural sector professional with 25 years’ experience in museum and gallery education. Previous roles include Head of Learning and Access at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney) and Senior Curator, Education at Tate Modern. A member of the Steering Group for the Cultural Learning Alliance and of the Advisory Board for Chelsea Physic Garden, she holds MA degrees from Oxford University (English Literature) and University of London (History of Art) and a Doctorate in Museum Education (University of London).
Director of Digital Development
Royal Shakespeare Company
Sarah Ellis is an award-winning producer working with RSC to explore new artistic initiatives and partnerships. She has won The Hospital Club and Creative Industries UK’s cross-industry collaboration award and two Lovie Awards for Innovation and Experimentation. In 2013, she was listed in the 100 most influential people in Gaming and Technology by The Hospital Club and Guardian Culture Professionals. As a theatre and spoken word producer, she has worked with the Old Vic Tunnels, Battersea Arts Centre, Birmingham REP, Contact, Freeword, Improbable, Southbank Centre, Soho Theatre, and Shunt. She is a regular speaker and commentator on digital arts practice.
Director of Development
Throughout his career, Adam has worked and collaborated with some of the UK’s most renowned and celebrated arts organisations, gaining extensive knowledge and insight. In addition to his position with Cardboard Citizens as Director of Development, overseeing all areas of income and business devolvement, in 2015 he founded a business consultancy practice, advising on strategic growth, marketing, income generation, branding, and governance. These two positions complement his entrepreneurial approach, bridging the gap between creativity and business growth.
Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art
Hannah has managed substantial organisational change across CFCCA’s finance, HR, facilities management, and commercial operations to encourage greater resilience. She has experience in working internationally and in partnership to support delivery of a world-class artistic programme, including exhibitions, festivals, and artist residencies both on- and off-site. She has a strong track record of managing volunteers, interns, and work experience programmes and peer mentoring. Throughout her career, she has pursued a passion for writing and editing, including various publications on behalf of CFCCA. Her previous professional experience includes project management, programming, and arts administration.
Head of Creative Development
Since joining Contact in 2007, Suzie has headed up the Artistic Team, which brings together staff working across the creative programme of participatory work, commissioning, and programming. During her time at Contact, Suzie has led on the development of a number of programmes, including the pioneering leadership programme Future Fires and Contact’s involvement in the development of the exciting social entrepreneurship programme The Agency. Suzie continues to lead on the development of a range of socially engaged theatre pieces that focus on unheard and underrepresented voices, and increasingly have a health and wellbeing focus.
They Eat Culture
Ruth is a cultural activist, practice-based researcher, and filmmaker. In 2009, she set up They Eat Culture, where she works with creatives, artists, thinkers, researchers, technologists, makers, and extraordinary people-next-door to help turn up the cultural temperature and amplify diverse unheard voices. Ruth has produced, written, and directed several broadcast documentaries and indie fiction films, and experiments around creative truth and lies of documentary through arts, culture, and digital work. Ruth has taught on culture/media courses and published academic work in active media and citizenship. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Winston Churchill Fellow.
The Reading Agency
Debbie Hicks is Creative Director at The Reading Agency, a national charity working to inspire, share, and celebrate reading. She oversees the delivery of the charity’s creative programme delivery. She also specialises in reading, health, and public libraries, and has played a leading role in national research, as well as policy and strategy work in this area. She leads The Reading Agency’s work supporting the Society of Chief Librarians’ Universal Health Offer, including the development of the Reading Well Books on Prescription Scheme for England, and Reading Friends, the new Big Lottery-funded reading befriending programme for lonely and isolated older people.
Sue Hughes is responsible for the strategic development of The Old Sunday School, the Silk Museum, Paradise Mill and West Park. The role of Macclesfield Museums is to celebrate the richness of the town’s heritage and cultivate its wealth of community, generosity, talent, enterprise, and industry. This is delivered by promoting creativity, making communities, sharing their stories, and providing inspiring and enlightening experiences. Sue has over 25 years' experience in the museum and heritage sector and is a Fellow of the Museums Association.
Claudia’s specialism is working with transdisciplinary projects and research in art and science. Before joining Arts Catalyst, she project managed several independent educational projects and exhibitions at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), The Bluecoat Gallery, A Foundation Liverpool, and Nordic Intercultural Events. Her background is in fine art, and she completed an MA in Material and Visual Culture in Anthropology at University College London.
4Motion Dance Theatre Company CIC
Elaine is co-founder and Artistic Director of 4Motion Dance Theatre Company; as well as a dance and yoga teacher; leadership trainer for young people; and mentor. With a passion for dance, the arts, and culture, Elaine studied a BA Honors in Dance and Professional Practice and a Masters in Dance Science. She completed the Clore Emerging Leaders Course in 2015, and has since built 4Motion’s first community studio and café and delivered INSET training for teachers in creative learning, inclusive movement, and yoga.
New Writing North
Claire produces projects such as the David Cohen Literature Award, Gordon Burn Prize, the Northern Writers’ Awards, and Durham Book Festival, and is editorial director of Mayfly, NWN’s publishing house. NWN produces award-winning work with young people such as Cuckoo Young Writers and Young Writers City, and works with partners from across the creative industries, including Penguin Random House, Channel 4, and the BBC to develop new talent. The organisation has a wide range of research and collaboration partnerships with HE’s in the North. Claire is a board member of BookTrust, And Other Stories, and the North East Cultural Partnership.
Lisa co-founded Capsule in 1999. Capsule crafts extraordinary projects for curious audiences and has gained a reputation as a dynamic and innovative arts producer, initiating, commissioning, and producing multi-disciplinary work. Along with a year-round programme, Capsule is responsible for a number of high-profile projects, including the Supersonic Festival and Home of Metal. Capsule has a history of programming and producing dynamic projects for a range of partners and clients, from exhibitions for the RSC to the opening season for the largest library in Europe. Lisa was an Honorary Research Fellow with the Digital Humanities Hub at the University of Birmingham.
Calderdale Music Trust
Kevin graduated from Nedlands College of Advanced Education with a Diploma in Music Teaching. He also studied Educational Psychology at the postgraduate level and received a NPQH. Kevin spent several years teaching music in schools in Australia. He has also played guitar in bands and musicals. Kevin has taught guitar and conducted the Calderdale Youth Guitar Ensemble, which has performed in Australia, Germany, and Royal Albert Hall. He was a member of the steering group that developed a common approach for peripatetic music staff in the UK. He has also delivered presentations at the Federation of Music Services national conference.
Creative Leicestershire Manager
Catherine provides advice and support to artists and creative enterprises in Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland. She is also an Artistic Quality Assessor for Arts Council England. Catherine’s work has spanned bookselling, publishing, and community arts. She has a background in arts and literature development, and has programmed dozens of festivals and events. As a writer of short stories, she has published in numerous collections, including the award-winning Overheard: Stories to Read Aloud. Catherine is a Director of The Generator CIC, Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Chair of Trustees for Junction Arts, and Senior Fellow and Trustee for AD:uk.
Encounter Theatre and Therapy
Amerie is a founding member of EncounterTT. She specialises in theatre, performance art, and dramatherapy, with a particular interest in environment, surrealism, and the post-dramatic. Participatory arts and social action are her passion, with 20 years of experience as a community artist/facilitator and social entrepreneur to her name. Her influences include person-centred processes, creative arts therapy, Open Space Technology, specialist education methodology, and inclusive governance systems. Her skills lie in facilitating enhanced encounters between herself and others by encouraging active listening, empowered involvement, and unconditional positive regard between participants.
The Literary Consultancy
Aki Schilz is the Director of The Literary Consultancy, the UK's longest-running editorial consultancy for writers, providing editing services, mentoring and literary events since 1996. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the award-winning publisher Penned in the Margins, and a judge for the Bridport First Novel Award and the Creative Future Literary Awards for marginalised writers. Aki is a member of the #BAMEinPublishing network, and an advocate for improved diversity, representation, and accessibility in the literature sector. She is also a writer and editor, and co-founder of the Saboteur Award-shortlisted #LossLit digital literature project.
Teacher and Coordinator
Hull Music Hub
Selina is musician, teacher and project coordinator currently working for Hull Music Hub, Hull University, and running projects funded by Hull 2017 City of Culture and Youth Music. Since training to teach at the Institute of Education, Selina has gained a wealth of experience in both classroom and instrumental teaching from primary through to university level. As a flautist, she specialises in contemporary repertoire for flute and electronics commissioning new works for the flute. As a coordinator at Hull Music Hub, projects involve building networks to create a musically inclusive culture and expand opportunities for young people.
Stephanie Sirr has been Chief Executive of Nottingham Playhouse, one of the UK’s leading producing theatres, since 2001. During that time, the work of the Playhouse has been seen all around the UK and across the world. She is a former General Manager of Blackpool Grand Theatre and Director of the Merlin Theatre. She has worked as a writer, actor, court reporter, and theatre director. She is co-Chair of Dance Touring Partnership, Vice Chair of PIPA (Parents in Performing Arts), and a director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and ONE Nottingham.
Based in North East Derbyshire, Junction Arts has delivered transformational participatory arts projects in rural, ex-industrial communities for over 40 years. It has established two annual outdoor arts festivals, including the Bright Winter Nights Festival (now in its 23rd year). Paul has 14 years of experience in the creative sector, managing Junction Arts for the past seven, and is keen to ensure that learning developed on the Boosting Resilience Programme support the continued development and resilience of the charity.
Head of Learning
The Design Museum
Sevra Davis is Head of Learning at the Design Museum. She leads the strategic direction of the Learning portfolio including programmes for schools, young people and families, further and higher education audiences, as well as lifelong learning. She was previously Director of Design at the globally renown think tank the RSA, where she developed design research and design education programmes. She also led the esteemed RSA Student Design Awards with an emphasis on encouraging young designers to apply design thinking and practical design skills to today’s most pressing challenges. She has consulted on design for social innovation for international government clients and she often speaks on the value of design thinking and a design approach. She has taught design thinking modules in a range of institutions. Sevra trained an architect and urban designer and spent 10 years working in industry prior to joining the not-for-profit sector.