Programme Producers and Partners
AD:Vantage is produced by Helga Henry and Lara Ratnaraja. We are independent arts consultants with a particular interest in developing leadership talent in the arts, culture and heritage sectors. Previously we have delivered programmes in Birmingham including RE:Present and ASTON-ish. These programmes, like AD:Vantage were designed to transform the diversity of cultural leadership. You can find out more about them and us in the FAQs (Jump to FAQ).
The programme is funded by Coventry City Council and we are working in partnership with New Art West Midlands, Coventry Biennial and Warwick University.
Lara is a freelance consultant specialising in diversity, leadership, collaboration, ideas, innovation cultural policy implementation within the HE, cultural and digital sector.
She develops and delivers projects and policy on how culture and digital technology intersect for a number of national partners as well as programmes around leadership, resilience and business development for the arts.
She is currently delivering and developing cross sector projects with private, public, HE and other education partners.
She co-produced RE:Present and ASTONish with Helga Henry ; leadership development programmes which supported the development of cultural leaders from diverse backgrounds so that the cultural ecology of the city better reflects its changing demographic. Funding partners were Arts Council England andBirmingham City Council.
She was also a broker on the University of Birmingham AHRC Funded CATH Project (Collaborative Triple Helix) which developed 19 collaborative projects across the East and West Midlands with academics , cultural organisations and digital SMEs. The research project led to long term collaborative working and investment. She subsequently became Senior Research Facilitator leveraging investment for further knowledge transfer and research collaborations between academics, cultural organisations and artists across the sector.
Lara has also developed, managed and delivered successful ERDF, ESF, ACE and other funded and non funded programmes and projects cross sectors and is well respected as a key influencer in the development of sector policy.
She is on the Board of Derby Theatres and Vivid Projects and the Advisory Groups for Coventry Biennial and SHOUT Festival. She is on the Midlands Area Council for Arts Council England, the Equality Monitoring Group for Arts Council Wales, and is a Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre Industry Champion.
Photo credit: Ian Davies Photo
Helga Henry is a consultant specialising in developing strategy and resilience in the Creative and Cultural sector. Recent clients include the Royal Albert Hall, FirstSite Gallery, Colchester, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh and a variety of West Midlands based organisations including Coventry City of Culture 2021, DASH, Birmingham Rep and Fierce Festival. Until 2018 she was Director of Organisational Development at Birmingham Hippodrome, a role which focused on the organisation’s culture and leadership together with strategic consultancy projects and thought leadership. Immediately prior to this role she was Lead Consultant at Creative Shift – a wholly owned subsidiary of the theatre which brought business skills to creatives and creativity to business. Her perspective – as a former corporate solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in arts organisations nationally and internationally – combines commercial savvy, artistic vision and incisive observation. Her experience includes advising a range of national arts organisations and a secondment at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY where she worked with the team on the strategic plan that led to the creation of an award-winning theatre space which opened in 2015.
A former Clore fellow (2008-2010 NESTA supported fellow for Entrepreneurial Organisations), with her friend and respected consultant colleague Dr Andrew Bass, she is the co-author of “NetworkAbility – Building your business one relationship at a time”, published in November 2016
Helga is on the Board of Beatfreeks Arts, Thames Festival Trust and the Creative Advantage Fund West Midlands, the first dedicated Venture Capital fund for the creative industries.
Sonia Boué is an artist. Her multiform work explores home and the domestic as metaphors for exile and displacement. Sonia has a significant body of postmemory work. She is also a writer on autism and art, and a leading consultant for neurodiversity in the arts.
She is a Board member for a-n The Artists Information Company and Artist Member for CVAN SE.
Becki Morris is the founder of DCN and a practitioner for cross sector collaborative working to share knowledge, develop strategy and skills in positive action to create intersectional inclusive practice in the service provision, working practice and representational, supported workforce in the Heritage Sector. DCN is now a business partner of a cross sector consortium called EMBED.
Craig Ashley is a curator and producer based in the West Midlands. He led the visual arts programme at Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) from 2009 to 2016. Notable exhibitions for MAC include By the Rivers of Birminam (2012), an important retrospective of the work of renowned photographer Vanley Burke, Disrupted (2015) curated by Noëmi Lakmaier addressing Disability and the civic space, and Shock & Awe (2016), newly commissioned drawings by Barbara Walker acknowledging the contribution of Black servicemen and women to British war efforts over the past 100 years. In 2016, he curated Peter Kennard’s retrospective exhibition, Off Message. He is currently Director of New Art West Midlands, the contemporary visual arts network for the region. He serves on the Advisory Board of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, and is Chair of DASH, a leading Disabled led visual arts organisation.
New Art West Midlands Website ⧉
Philippa is General Manager at Coventry theatre company Talking Birds, where she has managed development of the Difference Engine (delivering captions and audio description to audience’s smartphones). Talking Birds aims to make work that is accessible to a wide range of people, and runs the Nest residency programme, which prioritises disabled artists. Philippa’s background includes project and programme management, artist support, coaching, organisational development and fundraising – beginning her career at MIND mental health charity.
Mojere Ajayi-Egunjobi is a British born Nigerian writer, filmmaker and cultural producer. She writes both poetry and prose and specialises in documentary filmmaking. Her work as a filmmaker and writer centres heritage and her intersectional identities. Alongside her creative practice she has programmed festivals, events and exhibitions for arts institutions such as Southbank Centre, Ovalhouse Theatre and Tate. Currently she is the Unlimited Trainee based at Shape Arts
Kim Hackleman is the Community Embedded Producer at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and a freelance producer, actress, director, writer, facilitator, and teacher. While at the Belgrade Theatre she has managed and facilitated LifeStage, (formerly Acting Out) (Belgrade Theatre’s groundbreaking, work-related learning programme for young people who find mainstream school challenging), produced the All Our Tomorrows Festival and the Partner Theatre Festival for National Theatre Connections, and co-produced Connectivity and Community: Celebrating with the Over 50s, in addition to directing, acting, and facilitating workshops. She sits on the steering committee for the West Midlands Creative Health Alliance and Coventry City of Sanctuary. She originally hails from the United States of America, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and began her work in theatre. She moved to Coventry in 2001 from New York City.
Coventry City Council
We’re a Council that’s looking for new ways of working to tackle new – and old – challenges. We know, for example, that residents with disabilities are less likely to both take part in and attend sporting and cultural events in the city. Therefore, one of our strategic goals and equality objectives is to try to improve this situation by increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in culture as participants, artists and leaders.
In Coventry City Council’s plan, ‘One Coventry’ we set out our overall approach to working together, with partners and communities, to improve people's lives and the city for the better. We know that it is crucial we have a diversity of perspectives amongst our leaders and that there is huge potential in the city to drive innovation and new thinking. We believe that people with disabilities need more routes and better support to develop as leaders so we have commissioned, and we’re funding, the AD:Vantage Leadership programme – and we’re looking forward to seeing the impact of the programme on arts, culture and heritage in Coventry.
Coventry Biennial 2021
We are a social, political and critical platform for contemporary art that is committed to inclusivity, accessibility, diversity, comfort and making things together. We are committed to walking and eating together and developing a personable and non-institutional approach to existing in the world.
In recent years our exhibitions, events and activities in galleries and more unusual or unexpected locations have attracted over half a million visitors including local residents, artists and art professionals from across the UK, and cultural tourists from around the world.
New Art West Midlands
New Art West Midlands is the Contemporary Visual Arts Network for the region. Our purpose is to strengthen and develop the contemporary visual arts sector in the West Midlands, working collectively to safeguard the future of artists and our sector as a whole. Together with our partners, we create defining opportunities for artists and arts professionals to develop their practices through a distinctive, critically-engaged programme. New Art West Midlands plays a leading role in the development of strategic collaborations between Higher Education arts institutions, arts organisations, artists and independent arts professionals. In November 2019, we published No Limits – A Visual Arts Strategy for the West Midlands.
University of Warwick
“Founded in 1965 the University of Warwick is one of the world’s leading research institutions and is ranked in the top of UK and top 20 of European universities. With a renowned reputation for combining excellence in research and teaching, with innovation and links with business, industry and the arts, the University of Warwick is home to the Warwick Arts Centre and is a Principal Partner of Coventry City of Culture 2021 - underpinned by our four strategic priorities: innovation, inclusion, regional leadership and internationalisation.”