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Speaker Biographies

Host: Baroness Lola Young

After acting in theatre and television, Lola Young became an arts administrator, before becoming professor of Cultural Studies at Middlesex University as well as a writer, cultural critic, public speaker and broadcaster. Appointed as Head of Culture at the Greater London Authority (2002), Baroness Young has also sat on the Boards of the South Bank Centre, the Royal National Theatre, and The National Archives, and is currently a Commissioner at Historic England. She has Chaired the Orange Prize for Literature, the Caine Prize for African Literature, and been a judge on the Art Fund Prize and The Observer newspaper Ethical Awards. Having received an OBE in 2001, Lola went on to become an independent Crossbench member of the House of Lords in 2004, where she is actively involved in legislation and other areas of parliamentary life.

As an Ambassador for Cotton Made in Africa, the Ethical Fashion Forum and MADE-BY, and a former member of the Board of Aid by Trade, Baroness Young promotes ethical, sustainable fashion and is the founding Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. In parliament, she also campaigns on criminal and social justice issues such as children in state care, modern slavery and women and girls at risk. Baroness Young holds honorary doctorates from Middlesex University, the University of the Arts London, and Sussex University and is the 2017 Chair of the Man Booker Prize judging panel.

Keynote: Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor has been Chief Executive of the RSA since November 2006. During this time the Society has substantially increased its output of research and innovation, has provided new routes to support charitable initiatives of its 28,000 Fellows – including crowd funding - and has developed a global profile as a platform for ideas. In October 2016 Matthew was appointed by the Prime Minister to lead an independent review into modern employment.

Prior to this appointment, Matthew was Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to the Prime Minister. Previous roles include Labour Party Director of Policy and Deputy General Secretary and Chief Executive of the ippr the UK’s leading left of centre think tank.

Matthew is a regular media performer having appeared several times on the Today Programme, The Daily Politics and Newsnight. He had written and presented several Radio Four documentaries and is a panellist on the programme Moral Maze. He writes a regular column for the Local Government Chronicle. He has posted over a thousand times on his RSA blog site and tweets as @RSAMatthew.


Sir Kevan Collins

Sir Kevan Collins took up post as the first Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Chief Executive in October 2011, having previously been Chief Executive in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The EEF is a grant-making education charity dedicated to challenging educational disadvantage, sharing evidence and finding out what works in education. The EEF has established over 130 education studies involving 1:4 schools and over 750,000 children. Kevan started his career in education as a primary school teacher in east London before serving as a school leader in Yorkshire. Kevan became the National Director of the Primary National Strategy in January 2003. He led the introduction of Excellence and Enjoyment the government’s strategy for primary schools.

Kevan has gained international experience working in Mozambique, supporting the development of a national literacy initiative in the USA and advising Goodstart, Australia’s largest early learning provider.

Kevan is a visiting professor at the Institute of Education University of London; he was knighted for services to education in 2015.

Nicky Cox MBE

Nicky Cox is editor-in-chief of First News, the national newspaper for young people with more than two million readers a week. Nearly half of schools subscribe making First News the widest-read publication for children in the UK. Nicky was made an MBE for services to children in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2009 and, in 2013, was given a Patron’s award from the NSPCC and ChildLine for dedication to children. She is passionate about giving kids a voice and a fair deal. First News is picking up a string of awards. In the 2012 Newspaper Awards, it picked up the gongs for Weekly National Newspaper of the Year and Niche Newspaper of the Year. It was also made National Newspaper of the Year by the Plain English Awards and Save The Children gave the newspaper an award for outstanding contribution to children. Nicky has toured schools nationwide for seven years with Henry Winkler OBE, as part of their My Way! campaign in an effort to help make life better for children who struggle at school.

In 2014 Nicky was one of the Women of Achievement in the Women of the Year Awards. She is often called upon to be a judge herself and has been on the panels for BAFTA and the Mum of the Year Awards, to name a couple.

In a previous life Nicky was editorial director of the children’s division at BBC Worldwide (for 14 years) and a sub editor at The Sunday Times.

At the centre of her life are her four gorgeous and talented kids – Barney, 22, Beth, 20, Daisy, 17 and Liberty, 14.

Julia Farrington

Julia Farrington is a freelance campaign, project and resources producer, working in the UK and internationally at the interface between arts, human rights and politics, with a particular interest in artistic freedom of expression.

Her ongoing work with Index on Censorship, where she set up the arts programme – 2009 - 2014, addresses the social, political and legal pressures on artistic freedom of expression in the UK and tackles the causes of pervasive self-censorship in the sector. She has produced landmark conferences on artistic freedom in UK ‘Taking the Offensive’ and Myanmar ‘Art in Transition’ for Index and she recently edited a series of information packs on the legal framework which impacts on what is sayable in the arts in UK. She illustrated these with case studies of contested artworks and the role of the police in managing protest triggered by controversial art.

Her work on and off over 8 years with Belarus Free Theatre has taken her into the frontline of political theatre making, and most recently she worked with the company as Head of Campaigns (2014 - 2016) working with the audience to take an active stance against the injustices and human rights violations portrayed in their plays.

She has recently started working with documentary for the first time, which is an exciting departure, as Impact Producer on Even When I Fall which tells the story of Nepal's first and only circus, founded by young Nepali circus performers who had been trafficked to illegal Indian circuses as children. She is also currently working with the Somali Week Festival on their development strategy, which she finds very inspiring. Julia came across it in 2009, when she heard that they were taking Censorship as the theme for the festival and has seen it grow from a small local festival in Bethnal Green to the most significant international platform for Somali live performance in the world.

Keynote: Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. The Adoption Papers (Bloodaxe) won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. Fiere, her most recent collection of poems was shortlisted for the COSTA award. Her novel Trumpet won the Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the IMPAC award. Red Dust Road (Picador) won the Scottish Book of the Year Award, and the London Book Award. It was shortlisted for the JR Ackerley prize. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. Her book of stories Wish I Was Here won the Decibel British Book Award.

She also writes for children and her book Red Cherry Red (Bloomsbury) won the Clype award. She has written extensively for stage and television. Her most recent plays Manchester Lines (produced by Manchester Library Theatre) and The New Maw Broon Monologues (produced by Glasgay) were a great success. Her most recent book is a collection of stories, Reality, Reality. She is currently working on her new novel, Bystander. She is Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

Jackie Kay was named Scots Makar—the National Poet for Scotland—in March 2016.

Workshop Contributors

Schools as Leaders of Cultural Learning

Liz Macfarlane is a freelance art and design education consultant working schools, academies and two local education authorities across the country to provide support and bespoke CPD. She is an Artsmark consultant with ROH Bridge. Liz is on the expert subject advisory panel for Ofqual and is Vice President of the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD). Liz holds the Professional Qualification for School Inspectors and has recent inspection experience with Ofsted, including art, craft and design subject inspections. Liz is also a governor of a Leicestershire primary school.

Empathy Lab

Miranda McKearney is a social entrepreneur inspired by the power of words to change lives. She founded national charity The Reading Agency in 2002 after 25 years of pioneering work on marketing literature and libraries and received an OBE in 2005 for services to libraries.

Miranda has now embarked on a new life which involves spending much less time on the 7.48 to Waterloo. She has started a new organisation, EmpathyLab, which aims to build children’s empathy skills and social activism through stories.

In her spare time Miranda goes trekking and reads ferociously. She is a trustee of Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chair of the Book Marketing Society.

Sarah Mears is a proud founder member of EmpathyLab and very excited to be working on something so positive in what are challenging times for our diverse community of children, young people and their families. In her day job, Sarah is Library Services Manager for Essex Libraries leading on service development for adults and children. Sarah is also an executive member of the Society of Chief Librarians and is helping to develop the new public libraries national culture offer. She is also past Chair of ASCEL – (The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians) and is working on a range of projects to support children’s reading, cultural development and wellbeing in libraries including a new drive to make all libraries autism friendly.

Heritage, Partnership and Sustainability

Richard Holdsworth studied History at the University of Leeds before beginning a career in museum and heritage in 1979. He joined Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust in 1985 becoming Director of Preservation & Education in 2011 responsible for delivery of the Trust's core charitable purposes – preservation and education. Richard currently chairs the UK Maritime Curators Group and the South East Museum Development Coordination Group and is a member of the Royal Opera House Bridge Advisory Board. In 2009 he was awarded an MBE for services to heritage in Kent.

Future Views

Bridget Mackenzie’s main role in Flow is to generate ideas and lead on research, drawing on 26 years experience in delivering and evaluating innovative education in arts and heritage. She founded Flow UK in 2006, subsequently supporting its establishment in India and internationally. Previously she has been Head of Learning at the British Library, Education Officer for Tate, lead consultant for Clore Duffield’s Artworks Awards and Co-ordinator of Young at Art for the University of the Arts. Bridget is known for furthering the role of ‘creative enquiry’ in education and for placing culture at the heart of a shift to a sustainable future, publishing her thinking on The Learning Planet, numerous journals as well as being in demand to address audiences international as a public speaker. She holds both a BA Hons and MA in History of Art, and two teaching qualifications.

Susanne Buck has 17 years experience in the museum sector designing, facilitating, marketing and project managing engaging and educational experiences for a broad range of visitors. Previously, she spent six years as the Education and Audience Manager for the British Music Experience, and seven years working for various museums including the Science Museum developing content and visitor programmes.

Alongside her consultancy work she is an associate lecturer for Central St Martins’ MA in Creative Practices for Narrative Environments, and Ravensbourne College’s MA in Service Design Innovation. She also teaches professional development courses in Experience Design for University of the Arts London and on commission for private clients. She volunteers as a Cultural Heritage Industry Advisor for Creative and Cultural Skills and holds an MA with distinction in Narrative Environments from UAL Central St Martins

Learning the Ropes: A Guild for Creative Careers engagement

Tony Witton currently manages the Culture and Creative Economy Service in Kent County Council where her is responsible for a number of programmes of work to enable the growth of the Creative Industries. With a career that began in technical theatre, Tony went on to manage mixed use arts venues and programmes of community engagement before managing large scale capital refurbishment projects and developing planning and business tools for the arts. This led to a more strategic role with Arts Council England where he managed key relationships and contribute to the development of improvement tools and performance indicators for local government cultural services. Tony is a Cultural Peer with the Local Government Association and Vice Chair of Arts Development UK. He sits on the ROH Bridge Advisory Board and is Chair of the Board of Trustees for Kinetika.

Unpacking Gold Arts Award

Libby Liburd is an actor and writer from East London, with over 17 years experience of working with young people in all settings.

Libby is a Trinity Panel Member, training advisers to deliver at all Arts Award levels, and consulting on a range of projects. She is one of Arts Award’s longest standing trainers, having originally come on board as a trainer just after the launch of Arts Award in 2005. Her wealth of Arts Award delivery and consultation experience is diverse; including work with organisations such as the National Theatre but also smaller scale delivery with schools, Youth Offending Teams and independent arts organisations. Libby works closely with several Bridge organisations to support Arts Award delivery.

Libby trained at East 15 Acting School, and continues to work as an actor and writer. She has her own own successful woman show, Muvvahood, with a London run coming up in November.

Twitter: @LibbyLIburd

Hannah Wilmott has worked as an independent evaluator, researcher and writer for 25 years and specialises in the evaluation of creative and cultural learning programmes. Hannah has undertaken a range of work for the Royal Opera House Bridge including the evaluation of the pilot year of the Hertfordshire Young Cultural Ambassadors programme in 2013/14 and she is currently supporting the evaluation of the Gold Arts Award Network in the region. Hannah is also coordinating the evaluation of Tate Exchange and working with A New Direction, the Bridge Organization in London.

Creative Learning: Opening doors for young refugees and asylum seekers

Edward Mackay is Community Engagement Manager in the Learning and Participation department of the Royal Opera House, running a range of projects across both the ballet and opera programmes to bring new people to ROH and take ROH's work to communities around the UK. He has been developing work with refugees and migrants through a year-long collaboration with Barnet College and an upcoming podcast project, the pilot of which recorded fifty refugees attending performances of Il trovatore. He has previously worked learning and participation in orchestral music and creative writing, as well as in mediation, conflict capability, and youth and community work.

Jessica Maddocks is Development and Communication Manager at Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN). With a background in Middle Eastern Culture and Arabic, she has delivered frontline services to unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children who are not in education, employment or training for a number of years in Kent. Currently she raises awareness of the issues affecting this group and works on delivering new projects to address developing areas of need within the County and further afield.

Sue Maddocks, a volunteer at KRAN, supports young refugees and asylum seekers to achieve Arts Award. She draws on a long Art and Design teaching career, community arts involvement, her own creative practice and a determination to bring back the joy of handing materials and 'making'. A Fine Art graduate with a specialism in sculpture, and early career experience in studio potteries, Sue is currently combining ceramics and printmaking in her own practice, exploring themes of landscape and 'Sense of Place'.

Everyday Digital

Originally a secondary school music teacher, Julia Lawrence has worked in both the cultural and education sectors managing programmes for the London Sinfonietta, the Southbank Centre and Aldeburgh Festivals as well as for Lambeth Local Authority and Creative Partnerships. Her current role at London Connected Learning Centre (CLC) involves supporting those involved in education and learning in making best use of new technologies within their practice. In addition to schools, the centre works with arts and cultural organisations including the Philharmonia, the British Film Institute and the National Portrait Gallery. Julia enjoys playing around with various bits of technology and is keen to spread her enthusiasm for all things digital as widely as possible.

Kim Morrison has a background in theatre and has devised and directed participation projects for International Theatre Festival 14/48, South Ayrshire Council and Liverpool Greenhouse. At London Connected Learning Centre, Kim leads on programmes with business and cultural organisations such as IBM, the Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Portrait Gallery, the British Film Institute and the Southbank centre. Kim also leads on film training and recently presented at the Children’s Film First Conference in Brussels on media literacy. She is currently doing an MA in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck University and interested in the way organisations use new technologies to enhance the audience experience

Kirsty Binnie and Paul Highman are senior teachers at Hill Mead Primary School, Brixton. Paul has worked at Hill Mead for the past eight years and has been responsible for bringing blogging to the school. Before becoming a teacher, Paul worked as an editor in the charity sector. Prior to working at Hill Mead Kirsty was a teaching assistant in a rural Scottish primary school. Hill Mead is an Ofsted rated outstanding community school situated in the heart of Brixton. Kirsty is a pathfinder teacher in the school’s creative curriculum approach. At Hill Mead, teachers deliver a highly engaging curriculm that embraces a range of learning styles and stimulus. We actively encourage partnerships with arts organisations such as the National Theatre and the Unicorn Theatre. We believe that technology is an integral part of our approach

Thriving, not just surviving

Päivi Seppälä is the Co-owner/Director of LV21, an award-winning arts organisation based aboard historic lightship 21 moored in Gravesend on River Thames. LV21 is a floating cultural facility providing a unique platform for the arts to flourish and inspire. Over the past seven years LV21 has delivered high quality, community focused arts projects working in partnership with a number of organisations and artists across diverse disciplines. Päivi is also a freelance visual artist, creative producer and artistic director at Poppana, specialising in the production of collaborative site-specific art interventions with a strong focus on community participation and local heritage.

Harriet Hardie is Creative Director of Full House Theatre, a dynamic and thriving arts organisation who deliver performance projects for and with children and young people. As a writer and a director Harriet has been pivotal in gaining Full House’s national reputation for rich and playful work, whilst also taking a strategic leadership role within the organisation. Since its formation in 2001 Harriet - along with Co-Director Ben Miles - has built Full House to be one of the UKs foremost companies creating work for children and developing young audiences. Full House’s flagship projects include Art Town (a community arts development project in Houghton Regis) and a strategic touring project to champion quality and build CYP audiences across England

Karen Self is Head of Partnerships and Development for Kent Music, a music education charity committed to providing music opportunities for individuals, schools and groups across Kent, through individual lessons; whole class instrumental teaching; local and county-wide ensembles and choirs; teacher training; and by creating and supporting special music projects and events. Karen joined Kent Music in July 2016. Prior to this, she created, facilitated and managed a range of creative programmes across Youth and Community settings in Medway. These included the EU funded Cyber Youth Connection (CYC) project. Karen’s new role within Kent Music focusses on the development of an inclusion strategy and the creation of a diverse programme of activities that reflects the needs of both young people and the organisation.

Leaders for Impact

Cultural consultancy Bird & Gorton empowers arts organisations, museums, universities, creative businesses and cities to design and deliver strategies for collaboration, leadership development experiences, and impact research. Drawing on Design Thinking and Agile methodologies, their approach focuses on unlocking specialist expertise and making best use of digital technology. Bird & Gorton clients include Royal Opera House Bridge, The Royal Shakespeare Company, King’s College London, Clore Leadership Programme, Midlands 3 Cities, and Nottingham’s Strategic Cultural Partnership. Find out more at @bird_gorton