The Team

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  1. Our Board - Jude Kelly CBE - Chair

    Jude Kelly CBE is founder and chair of Metal, having spent the first three years of Metal's development as our artistic director. She went on to play an instrumental role in securing the 2012 Olympic Games for London and was artistic director at London Southbank Centre for 12 years. She is currently founder and artistic director of WOW – the Women of the World festival. Jude is joined on our board by the actor, Sir Ian McKellen, writers Paul Morley, and Yasmin Alibhai Brown, BBC radio presenter DJ Nihal Arthanayake, Jamie Beddard who is Co-Director of Diverse City, Agent for Change at The New Wolsey Theatre, and freelance director, writer and actor, Andrea Stark Director of Employment, Skills and Culture at the London Borough of Islington, and industry experts Ian Thompson and Mark Blenkinsop.

  2. Jamie Beddard

    Jamie Beddard is Joint Artistic Director of Diverse City, and Lead Artist in Extraordinary Bodies. He is also an Agent for Change at The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. As a performer, he recently performed the title role in the Elephant Man as well as the Leader in The Messiah at Bristol Old Vic, played the role of Mathias in The National Theatre’s production of The Threepenny Opera, and performed in ‘Weighting’, a large-scale outdoor circus show created by Extraordinary Bodies. He recently co-directed Extraordinary Bodies’ outdoor, inclusive circus performance, ‘Splash!’. He is a Clore Fellow, and has previously been a Diversity Officer (Arts Council), Associate Director (Graeae Theatre Company) and Editor of ‘Disability Arts in London’ magazine (DAIL). Additional directing credits include ‘The Last Freakshow’ (Fittings), ‘Can I Be Frank With You’ (‘Datco’) and ‘The Trouble With Richard’ (Graeae). Numerous acting credits include Quills, I.D, All the King’s Men, Wonderful You (Film/TV) and Ubu, Alice in Wonderland, Flesh Fly (Graeae), 15 Seconds (Traverse) and Waiting for Godot (Tottering Bipeds).

  3. Ian Thompson

    Ian was the founder and Creative Director of Thompson Brand Partners for 35 years, working for organisations like London 2012, Morrisons,, Paul Smith, The Tour de France The Southbank Centre, The Science Museum, National Media Museum and National Railway Museum. Ian is essentially a graphic designer who has specialised in branding throughout his career, eventually developing into a respected brand strategist with a design focus. He moved on from his business in late 2018 to develop his interest in film making. Ian is currently working concurrently on a documentary and a drama series about male dancing, based on a film he made for the ‘Being A Man’ Festival at The Southbank Centre in 2017. Whilst heading up Thompson Brand Partners, Ian worked extensively in the Arts and is a strong advocate for the power of Art and creativity to drive social change in Civic life. He lives in Leeds and is currently a Trustee of the Leeds 2023, an organisation that is bringing a full year of cultural activity to the city. Ian and his wife are keen dancers and are familiar faces at the nation’s many, regular Northern Soul nights.

  4. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

    Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was exiled from her birthplace, Uganda, in 1972 and is a journalist, broadcaster, author and columnist on the I newspaper and Sunday Times magazine. She has written for the Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, New York Times, Time Magazine and other publications She has won several awards including the Orwell prize for political writing and in 2017, National Press Awards columnist of the year prize. She was specially commended for this award again in 2018. She is a part time professor of journalism at Middlesex University and was governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company. For ten years She was co-chair of major Imperial College/Health Trust research project headed by Lord Ara Darzai on patient safety. She is a national and international public speaker, a consultant on diversity and inclusion and trustee of various arts organisations. She is co-founder of the charity British Muslims for Secular Democracy. Their new report The Inner Lives of Troubled Young Muslims will be out in September 2020. Her recent books include Refusing the Veil, Exotic England about England’s infatuation with the east. She is currently directing a programme of research into the well-being of troubled young Muslims. She has twice been voted the 10th most influential Asian in Britain. Her new polemic, Her last book was Defence of Political Correctness. Her new book, published in October 2020, is titled Ladies Who Punch. She has eight Hon degrees and sits on the boards of arts organisations. She is also a keen cook and theatre buff.

  5. Andrea Stark

    Andrea is currently the Director of Employment, Skills and Culture, Islington Council. She first came to Islington from the Foundation for FutureLondon, a charitable organisation which supports the development of a new cultural and educational district at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. Prior to this, Andrea instigated a partnership to locate the Royal Opera House production workshops in Thurrock as part of a new centre for education and vocational training in creative industries. During her tenure she collaborated with local councils and business leaders to advance a wider strategic role for culture to sit at the heart of regional plans for economic development. She became the Creative Industries Champion for South East Local Enterprise Partnership. A member of the National Executive Board of Arts Council England, Andrea strengthened relationships between ACE and wider government, particularly DCLG , BIS and DWP. She led the development of the Arts Council’s first national apprenticeship programme to open up progression routes into the cultural sector. While Chief Executive of Eastern Arts Board, Andrea devised a region wide arts and economic development partnership with local government, HE and regional enterprise bodies to build a series of new arts centres. She has been arts chief at Dundee City Council and the City of Sunderland, in both places she led regeneration initiatives to position libraries, museums and arts services as an integral part of successful place making. After completing postgraduate studies at University of Birmingham, Andrea's early career was in youth and community theatre.

  6. Nihal Arthanayake

    Nihal is a DJ, Radio and TV presenter who broadcasts on BBC Asian Network and BBC Radio 5 Live. His career began as a rap recording artist 'MC Krayzee A' then later joined the group 'The Muddie Funksters'. He was briefly a member of alternative hip hop outfit Collapsed Lung, and worked with Fun Da Mental and Punjabi MC. In the late 1990s Nihal turned to music promotion working for artists as diverse as Nitin Sawhney, Judge Jules, Mos Def and Elton John. He has also worked as a freelance music journalist writing for Asiana, Eastern Eye, The Face Mixmag, Hip Hop Connection, Attitude, Bear Magazine and The Observer. Arthanayake joined BBC Radio 1 in 2002 to co-host Bobby Friction & Nihal Present; a night time Asian Beats show winning a Sony Radio Award in 2003. Since then, Nihal has presented a variety of shows throughout the BBC network including Weekend Breakfast Show on Radio 1, a weekly review show Review with Nihal, Radio 1 Asian Beats, Kicking Off and won Best Radio Show at the UK Asian Music Awards. In September 2016 Nihal joined Radio 5 Live and hosts Afternoon Edition broadcast daily. He works extensively in TV and provides talking head commentary on various music and culture related topics from the BRIT awards, The Culture Show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Channel 5's The Wright Stuff. In 2005 Nihal and former colleague Bobby Friction represented London as members of a team of cultural ambassadors during the successful 2012 Summer Olympics London bid.

  7. Paul Morley

    Paul is an English music journalist who has also been a band manager, promoter and television presenter. He started his career by writing for three Manchester area magazines in the late 1970s, Penetration, Out There and Girl Trouble, before working for the iconic NME. After NME, he was a regular contributor to BLITZ magazine penning a monthly television column as well as a series of interviews. He also produced and managed Manchester punk band the Drones. Morley is credited with steering the marketing and promotion of the phenomenal early success of ZTT's biggest act, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. He was the first presenter of BBC Two's The Late Show, and has appeared as a music pundit on a number of other programmes including regular appearances on BBC's The Review Show. Paul has written many books including The Age of Bowie, Words and Music: the history of pop in the shape of a city, Ask: The Chatter of Pop (a collection of his music journalism) and Nothing, concerning his father's suicide and that of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. Recently, Paul was the focus of BBC Two's How to Be a Composer, in which he spent a year at the Royal Academy of Music attempting to learn to compose classical music, despite being unable to read music or play an instrument.

  8. Simon Leftley MBE

    Simon Leftley has recently retired after having spent 36 years in local Government and Health. In 1984, he started his career as a social worker working with older people, adults, and children. He then had senior roles including Chief Executive in Bexley Care Trust (NHS) and his last post was that of the Deputy Chief Executive of Southend Borough Council. Simon received an MBE in 2020 for his Leadership skills, working with adults and children with mental health and learning disabilities. From 2007 Simon also lead Housing Services, Children’s Services, Public Health, and Culture and Community Services in Southend. As part of his portfolio, he worked on several key cultural initiatives including the renovation of the Priory Museum and the creation of The Forum; the only integrated academic/public library and art gallery in the country which was a collaboration between a Council, University, Higher Education College, and Focal Point Gallery. Simon worked with the British Museum on the high-status Royal Anglo-Saxon burial mound known as the “Prittlewell Prince”, and led the development of the Southend Olympic diving pool which brought the British Diving Team to train prior to the 2012 Olympics. He has worked closely with Metal in a number of initiatives including Village Green and Village Green Next Generation. Simon was born in Southend and is looking forward to enabling all our diverse communities to participate and experience high quality culture.

  9. Patrons

    David Hockney and Sir Ian McKellen

  10. Colette Bailey : Artistic Director and Chief Executive

    Colette has worked to develop Metal since the company's inception in 2002. She works across all three Metal sites and brings extensive experience of working in large scale public arenas via public art consultancy, exhibitions, participatory design and education projects. She was managing director of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (RBS) from 1998 – 2002 and is a freelance writer and commentator on the arts and has published articles in a number of journals and publications. She recently created Estuary, a major new arts festival along the banks of the Thames in South Essex and North Kent. The first edition, Estuary 2016 was co-curated with Gareth Evans of the Whitechapel Gallery & Sue Jones of Whitstable Biennale.

  11. Shaun Curtis : Director, Liverpool

    Shaun joined Metal following four years working across Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool, as Curator of Young People's Programmes. In these roles he worked internationally and curated, commissioned, and produced many multidisciplinary performances, exhibitions and events; often with a focus on the intersection between music and visual art. Prior to this, Shaun also worked in programming, education and participation capacities for DaDaFest International (Disability and Deaf Arts), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Liverpool Biennial. During his career Shaun has worked in collaboration with many artists and creative organisations across a broad spectrum of disciplines including; Warp Records, Punchdrunk Theatre Company, Actress, Jeremy Deller, Matthew Herbert, Oneohtrix Point Never, Martin Creed and Kate Tempest.

  12. Mark Richards : Director, Peterborough

    Mark joined Metal in May 2013, after eight years at Arts Council England based in Cambridge. Through his various senior management roles for ACE, he has developed a very strong understanding of the east region, its strengths and challenges. He has also worked within local government, arts venues of varying scales, as a Higher Education tutor and a practising visual artist. He has an MA in European Cultural Planning.

  13. Andrea Cunningham : Assistant Regional Director, Southend

    Andrea joins Metal from a career in museums and galleries spanning over 20 years. Most recently as Head of Learning & Skills at the V&A Museum of Childhood and previously as Head of Informal Learning & Access at the National Maritime Museum. An art historian by training, she has enjoyed working across a range of organisations such as the Museum’s Association, the National Gallery, Tate Modern and Orlean’s House Gallery & Borough Arts Service. Bringing skills from learning, public engagement, exhibition & interpretation development to cross-disciplinary public programming, Andrea’s practice is characterised by audience-centred, socially engaged and participatory approaches to creativity. A resident of Leigh-On-Sea, she values the importance of people and place in the creative landscape.

  14. Marta Berto : Marketing and Communications Manager

    Marta is a communications professional with a track record of successfully commissioning, art directing, and producing video, editorial, and promotional content for a variety of audiences across Europe. She’s also experienced in film programming, fundraising and partnerships. Marta brings a wealth of expertise in communications for the arts sector, having most recently worked as Head of Communications and Press for Sheffield Doc/Fest and as XR & Immersive Marketing Lead for British Film Institute. Formerly, Marta led on marketing, communications activities for film distribution company Against Gravity and their Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, MEDIA/Creative Europe programme, HBO Europe, Salisbury Arts Centre, Audioriver Festival, Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival and Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle. Marta believes that art can be a vehicle for social change, giving voice to the politically or socially disenfranchised. She is passionate about film, arts and literature and loves to work with creative teams to make great ideas reality.

    Twitter: @marta__berto

  15. Jenny Porter : Senior Project Manager, Liverpool

    Jenny is an experienced project manager, producer and curator. For five years she curated the annual Liverpool Art Prize exhibition, working closely with a wide range of contemporary visual artists based in Merseyside. Jenny is passionate about engaging diverse audiences, particularly people who may not see the arts as something for them. She also continues her own practice as a visual artist and has a passion for film and artists' moving image.

  16. Ruth Campbell-Ekins : Senior Project Manager, Peterborough

    Ruth has been at Metal Peterborough since its inception and has recently been promoted to Senior Project Manager. She is a practicing artist having studied at Central St Martins and London College of Communication. She has an MA in Photography.

  17. Michaela Freeman : Senior Project Manager, Estuary 2021

    Michaela is Metal's Senior Project Manager for Estuary 2021, having previously looked after digital projects and marketing. She worked at National Gallery and Academy of Fine Art in Prague, Flowers East Gallery in London, ran a publishing company Divus and edited State art magazine. She also works as a freelance curator and writer; with an MA in Fine Art Administration and Curatorship from Goldsmiths College.

    Twitter: @misafreeman

  18. Thea Behrman : Senior Project Manager, Estuary 2021

    Thea joined Metal in September 2019 as Senior Project Manager for Estuary 2021. She relishes collaborating with partners, artists and curators to create exceptional public artworks and participatory programmes to create surprising experiences for the broadest possible audience. Her career has embraced partnership development, fundraising, communications and co-devising arts programmes for a range of organisations including Furtherfield and 2NQ in Finsbury Park, Creative Foundation, Coin Street Community Builders and London Symphony Orchestra. She is also a trumpet player and school governor.

  19. Stef Bradley: Project Manager, Liverpool

    Stef is an experienced cultural educator and producer, joining Metal in October 2019 after three years coordinating public engagement and learning programmes at National Museums Liverpool. She has an MA in Art, Aesthetics and Cultural Institutions from University of Liverpool and a PGCE from University of Nottingham, working within formal education for a number of years as an English Literature teacher prior to her work within the cultural sector. Stef is passionate about film and has coordinated DIY cinema events as a programmer for community cinema projects Liverpool Small Cinema and Empty Spaces Cinema. She also hosts a regular science fiction book club in Liverpool.

  20. Paige Ockendon: Project Manager, Southend

    Paige joined Metal in 2016 and now leads on a variety of projects in Southend, including creative education programmes, community events and participatory projects with visiting artists-in-residence. She is proud to support emerging creatives working in all disciplines and seeks to share art forms with people from all walks of life. Paige is a Fine Art graduate from Nottingham Trent University and is currently a member of the 19/20 cohort of TOMA (The Other MA.) She is a practising artist, a proud seasider and a keen writer.

  21. Devon Holcombe : Finance Manager

    Devon joined the Metal Southend team at the beginning of 2020. She manages the Finance across all three sites. She has been working within Accounts for the last 8 years , completing her AAT studies in 2014. Since 2016 she has been a volunteer within the homeless community, and has a keen interest in mental health and wellbeing.

  22. Stephanie Stevenson : Company Administrator

    Stephanie provides project support and a warm welcome for artists in residence. With a working knowledge of French and Italian, she comes from a background of Travel and Tourism working as an International Tour Manager. She has also worked extensively in administrative positions in training, banking and media.

  23. Emma Mills : Mental Health Wellbeing Coordinator, Southend

    Emma is the Mental Health Wellbeing Coordinator at Metal. She grew up in Chalkwell and Leigh and has worked in the area as an art therapist, teacher and artist. She has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Art Psychotherapy. Emma has project managed several art and drama therapy mental health projects in Botswana where she lived for 10 years. She has published articles in journals and art therapy magazines and is passionate about using art and community to help promote everyone's good mental health.

  24. Hannah Clarke : Administrator, Southend

    Hannah provides support for projects, events and for the artists-in-residence. She grew up in Southend-on-Sea and has a background in the arts, graduating with a BA Hons from Exeter in Art History and Visual Culture. Prior to Metal, Hannah has explored different creative disciplines, working as the head chef at a local vegan restaurant. Her passion for food, art and culture has been fueled by her love for travel, particularly within Italy and Japan.

  25. Jon Davies : Administrator, Liverpool

    Jon is an artist, writer and events programmer, being involved in the independent art and music scene in Liverpool for over a decade. He directed audiovisual agency Deep Hedonia between 2012 and 2017, working with a host of festivals and organisations across the UK, and has since worked with Abandon Normal Devices, CTM Festival and FACT gallery as a freelance projects coordinator and workshops mediator. Jon is an active artist and musician, collaborating with various interdisciplinary artists, and also writes regularly for The Wire. https: //

  26. Jack Wilkin: Administrator, Peterborough

    With a degree in Drama and Creative Writing from De Montfort University, Jack has developed a practice that explores queer theatre and comedy. Before coming to METAL, he previously spent a year working for The Kite Trust, a LGBT+ youth charity that provides support for under 25s throughout Cambridgeshire. This has fuelled his passion for engaging with local community groups, as well as getting involved in events such as Cambridge Pride.

  27. Simone Kelly : Marketing and Communications Coordinator

    Simone joined Metal during the turbulence of 2020, after achieving a Distinction in an MA in Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations at University of Leeds. Simone has both a passion and background in the arts, graduating with a BA in English Literature from Newcastle University and enjoying regular trips to the theatre. Simone is also a spoken-word artist and an avid blogger, who has had her poetry published in UNICEF’s Words By and worked with creative organisations such as Opera North and The Leeds Playhouse. Simone hosts her own monthly poetry event ‘Storytellers’ where she invites creatives to a safe space to develop their craft.

    Twitter: @_etherealtruth