Vera Chok is an actor, writer and performance maker. She is especially interested in nurturing new talent from unconventional backgrounds. Her practice focuses on connection and involves comedy, and she’s called upon to comment on and advise on identity and diversity.
Between 2010 – 2013, Vera founded and ran experimental theatre company saltpeter, as well as the international creative society, The Brautigan Book Club. She was resident artist at The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club producing Samantha’s Sunday Night Supper Club and the Anti-Valentine series. These Twelve Things Are True an experiential comic piece created in collaboration with a scientist, highlighted the frustration around HIV detection (Ambika P3, 2014). Her academic background in archaeology, anthropology and creative writing informs her work.
In 2015, Vera was listed as one of the UK's 15 Theatre Faces to Watch.
Feimatta Conteh is the Programme Manager at FutureEverything – an innovation lab for digital culture in Manchester; FutureEverything explores the meeting point of technology, society and culture which lies at the heart of the digital debate. Feimatta is responsible for strategic development and delivery of FE’s portfolio of innovation, art and design projects.
Prior to this Feimatta was is the Technology Programme Manager at Arcola Energy and Theatre; Arcola leads the field in embedding sustainability in arts organisations. Feimatta worked in the field of sustainability for a number of years and is passionate about new ways of looking at the world.
Outside of work, Feimatta is deeply involved with an educational outdoors children's charity both administratively and in the field – she enjoys building communities and helping young people interact with nature.
Joost Franken is an executive director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management in London supporting the international business on a variety of projects, including projects relating to governance and regulatory change.
He trained and worked as a corporate lawyer for more than eight years in the Netherlands at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.
Charles Garrad (chair)
Charles Garrad studied Fine Art and spent the early part of his career making his own work and teaching in art schools.
In his ‘Cinematic Environments’, which have been widely exhibited in the U.K. and abroad, the viewer is guided through constructed spaces which conjure up mood, tension and narrative using objects, images, sounds, and fragments of architecture.
He cut his teeth as a film production designer in the world of pop promos and commercials, then moved on to TV drama and feature films.
‘Waiting For You’, a feature film he has co-written and directed, was completed in 2017. His other credits as a director include That Time by Samuel Beckett which was part of Beckett on Film, and Time Passing, a series of six films for the BBC.
He is chair of The Shelagh Cluett Trust and runs a small property portfolio.
Stella Hall, FRSA, is a freelance producer with a passion for connecting people and place through culture. She co-founded the Green Room, Manchester’s first arts centre and has worked in a number of high profile roles since, including Director, Warwick Arts Centre and Head of Culture, Queen’s University/ Festival Director, Belfast Festival at Queen’s. She was Deputy Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, running the Culture10 programme of events across the region until it ended in 2010. She then became Festival Director of the year-long Preston Guild 2012 celebrations for which she received an Honorary Fellowship from University of Central Lancashire.
She is founding Festival Director of the Festival of Thrift which celebrates sustainable living in Redcar. It has twice won Best Event Teesside, Tourism England’s Best Event NE and the Observer Ethical Award for Arts and Culture.
She was an inaugural “Canny Creative” and advised the British Council on arts programme development and UK connections in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Alongside regular arts consultancies she mentors young professionals across the UK.
Stella is also Vice Chair Wildworks Theatre, Cornwall, ISIS Arts, Newcastle and a Board member of Rosie Kay Dance. She is a Council Member of Queen Mary University, London.
Lois Keidan is the co-Founder and co-Director of the Live Art Development Agency, London. Established in 1999, the Agency has responded to the innovative and diverse nature of Live Art in the UK by developing an extensive portfolio of resources, professional development initiatives and curatorial and publishing projects.
From 1992 to 1997 she was Director of Live Arts at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Prior to that she was responsible for national policy and provision for Performance Art and interdisciplinary practices at the Arts Council of England. Prior to that she worked at the Midland Group, Nottingham and at Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh.
She has been awarded Honorary Fellowships by Dartington College of Arts (1999) and Queen Mary, University of London (2009).
Freya Murray is Creative Lead at the Google Cultural Institute Lab. The Lab is a place where tech and creative communities come together to share ideas and discover new ways to experience art and technologies.
Prior to Google, Freya ran Stamp-House, an arts development consultancy, working with artists, arts organisations, brands and broadcasters to develop and producer a range of creative projects. Clients included, Sky Arts, Sky Academy, BFI, The Space (BBC / Arts Council), Hellicar & Lewis. Before then, Freya was an Arts Manager at Sky working on Sky's off air investment in the arts, where she set up the Sky Academy Arts Scholarships to support emerging artists aged 18 – 30.
Alison Ritchie is a production manager working in all areas of theatre and opera. She was at the Royal Court Theatre for many years but has been freelance since 1989. Recent work has been for Hampstead Theatre, Grange Park Opera and Artichoke.
Mhora Samuel is Director of Mhora Samuel Cultural Projects Consulting which delivers capital development and capacity building advice to arts, heritage and cultural organisations.
She began her career as a dancer and choreographer in Scotland, as Administrator for the Gregory Nash Group and as a Centre Co-ordinator for Chisenhale Dance Space. In 1991 she was appointed Director of Total Theatre. There she developed the network and established the Total Theatre Awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Mhora joined ABL Cultural Consulting in 1998 working on capital feasibility studies for arts and cultural buildings. In 2001 she was appointed Chief Executive of the Cultural Industries Development Agency in east London where she secured investment of over £5m from UK and EU regeneration programmes. From 2006 to 2016 she was Director of the Theatres Trust, promoting the better protection of theatres across England, Scotland and Wales and where she was instrumental in achieving the inclusion of cultural wellbeing in the National Planning Policy Framework. Mhora is a member of the Royal Society of Arts, the Association of British Theatre Technicians and the Institute of Fundraising. She also sits on the boards of Theatre Delicatessen, the Friends of the Britannia Panopticon Trust, and is President of Perspectiv.
Jeremy Smeeth is Chief Operating Officer at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. He trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in London and began working in performing arts management in 1997. From 2012 to 2015 he was Finance Director at Southbank Centre and prior to that Director of Finance and Administration at National Theatre of Scotland for four years. Previously he was Finance Director at Artsadmin and Finance Manager for Shared Experience, Company of Angels, International Workshop Festival, Chickenshed and the Orange Tree Theatre.