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Doing Things Differently

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

AD: Vantage was a pilot online leadership programme for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists, producers, cultural and heritage employees, and freelancers, who have experienced significant barriers to access both in advancing their creative careers and practice, and in gaining advantage with their peers. The programme used an inclusive definition of disability based on the Social Model.

The pilot was devised to explore inclusion and to show that, by investing in people with different and intersectional vantage points and perspectives, one can drive new thinking and innovation in the cultural and heritage sector.

We all know that an inclusive workforce makes for innovation, creativity and a plurality of voices that reflects wider society and a diversity of approaches and practices achieves a better and broader cultural spectrum.

So what happens next?

Together with Dr Vishalakshi Roy, Assistant Professor at School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures (SCAPVC), University of Warwick and Andrea Pulford Director of Planning and Operations at Warwick Arts Centre, Helga Henry and Lara Ratnaraja the Co-Producers of AD:Vantage wanted to further explore inclusion and how by investing in people with different vantage points and perspectives we can drive fresh/ new thinking and innovation in the cultural and heritage sector.

On April 7th they have convened the Doing Things Differently Symposium. This symposium explores the frameworks, learnings and conditions that are needed to disrupt the ableist infrastructure that inhibits the participation of d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent cultural leaders, artists and audiences

As the sector begins to understand the need and urgency for it to become more inclusive and relevant, this symposium presents a diversity of presenters and speakers who are passionate about making the change and doing things differently.

April 7 11-15:30

Helen Martin Studio

Breakout Space (Quiet Space) National Grid Room

Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick Coventry, CV4 7AL

Doing Things Differently

How do we embrace difference and engender an inclusivity in the cultural and creative sectors?

This event is BSL interpreted by Rachel Tipping and Clare Edwards

11:00 Welcome and coffee- Gemma Wright Head of Creative Learning at Warwick Arts Centre Warwick Arts Centre and Kulbir Shergill Director of Social Inclusion, University of Warwick

11:15 Keynote Sonia Boué in conversation with Helga Henry inc Q&A

12:00 Lunch

12:45 Diversity and Inclusion: Provocations and Discussion Lara Ratnaraja and Helga Henry

Lara and Helga have an ambition that “diverse cultural practitioners should be at the vanguard of effecting systemic change at an individual and organisational level and to disrupt the default setting as regards disability and intersectional diversity.” They reject what they consider to be outdated models of “charismatic”, “command and control” or authority-based leadership. Those models have created and upheld institutions which routinely discriminate and exclude.

How do we create a model of reflective 21st Century leadership that works in the reality of the lives of disabled, neurodiverse or d/Deaf people?

13:15 Diversity in Leadership Panel:

Chair: Dr. Vishalakshi Roy Assistant Professor, The Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies, University of Warwick

Panel: Ayesha Jones, Artist, Rinkoo Barpaga Multidisciplinary Artist, Richard Hayhow Company Director Open Theatre, Madeleine Levy founder Alternative Voices Theatre Company.

Leadership is either as a leading exponent of an artform, a leading thinker in practice, a leading activist in a cause – leading life with purpose and vision and having the skills to make that happen at a scale and scope and impact that’s right for the individual. When that notion is informed through a lens of disability, it takes it back to the purpose and vision and creating work that is authentically of that individual. The lens of disability also brings into focus the need to adapt, be flexible, be patient and to accept that the way may be harder, more repetitive, and slower than the timetable of people without disabilities or challenges of any type. However, those skills, plus the innovation, inventiveness, and tenacity that many artists with disabilities show, are precisely the skills needed in this sector at this time at a leadership level.

14:00-14:30 Coffee break

14:30-15:15 Creating & Presenting Content Accessibly Panel: Chair Jennifer Gilbert Jennifer Lauren Gallery and Freelance Curator and Producer

Panel: Laura Elliot CEO The Belgrade, Corey Campbell Creative Director The Belgrade, Hannah Barker Creative Producer (Participation and Talent Development) at the Belgrade, Gemma Wright Head of Creative Learning at Warwick Arts Centre and Navkiran Kaur Mann, Creative Arts Producer

What does collaboration look like in real life and not in theory? How can we model collaboration in the development of 21st Century leaders both as a source of equity support for disabled practitioners and as a means of them to have agency in their creative leadership?

15:15-15:30 Wrap and close Helga Henry and Dr Vishalakshi Roy


Speaker Bios:

Lara Ratnaraja

Lara specialises in diversity, innovation, leadership, collaboration, stakeholder management, advocacy, thought leadership and cultural policy development and implementation within the HE, cultural and digital sector.

She develops and delivers projects and policy on how cultural and digital technology intersect for several national partners as well as programmes around leadership, diversity resilience and business development for the arts and creative industries.

With Helga Henry, she co-produced RE:Present and ASTONish 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. During lockdown, they delivered AD:Vantage a leadership programme that places the vantage point of d/Deaf, neurodivergent and disabled creative practitioners at the heart of leadership.

She created and curates Hello Culture, a series of conferences and events that explore the intersection of digital and culture.

She is on the Board of Derby Theatre and Vivid Projects and the Advisory Groups for Coventry Biennial and SHOUT Festival. She is on board for Creative UK, the Equality Monitoring Group for Arts Council Wales, and is a Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre Industry Champion.

Helga Henry

Helga Henry is a consultant specialising in developing strategy and resilience in the Creative and Cultural sector. She works primarily with boards and senior management teams on issues such as People, Governance and organisational structure. Recent clients include the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Shakespeare Company, FirstSite Gallery, Colchester, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, MAC Belfast and a variety of West Midlands based organisations including Coventry City of Culture 2021, DASH, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Fierce Festival. Until 2018 she was Director of Organisational Development at Birmingham Hippodrome. 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. A former Clore fellow with international experience at St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, she is also 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 is Chair of the Creative Advantage Fund West Midlands, the first dedicated Venture Capital fund for the creative industries.

Dr Vishalakshi Roy

Dr. Vishalakshi Roy first joined the Centre as a student when she was awarded an MA in Creative and Media Enterprises in 2003, and rejoined as a visiting lecturer and arts and cultural sector specialist in 2010.

She holds a honours degree in Accountancy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Advertising and PR from the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, Delhi. She was awarded a PhD in Entrepreneurship by Warwick Business School where she was part of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation research group, exploring the role of identity in entrepreneurship.

She is module leader of Managing Cultural Organisations at the centre and of Entrepreneurship: A Critical Perspective an interdisciplinary module in Entrepreneurship at Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning. At the centre, she contributes to several practice based modules including Developing Audiences for Cultural Organisations, Creativity and Organisation, Creative Business Project and Research Methods.

Vishalakshi is a Foundation Fellow of Warwick Institute of Engagement and chairs the Learning Circle: Evaluation and Assessment of Public Engagement.

Andrea Pulford

Andrea is the Director of Planning and operations at Warwick Arts Centre. She leads on strategy and development, organisational planning and operations. Her role includes collaborating with the University, local businesses and other stakeholders. Andrea is a member of the University Council and is leading the 20:20 Project

Gemma Wright

Gemma Wright is the Head of Creative Learning at Warwick Arts Centre. After studying BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA Printmaking she worked at Spike Island in Bristol then Leicester Print Workshop. Most recently she was Head of Learning at Camden Art Centre, where she worked closely with London-based artist development agency ActionSpace to increase employment opportunities and access for neurodiverse artists in the gallery’s programme.

She is committed to demonstrating the social impact of arts and culture in people’s lives and to breaking down barriers to engagement. As part of her role, she develops strategies that widen the reach of the organisation’s programme to increase creative opportunities for communities, families, schools and young people, with a focus on artist-led and community co-production models.

Instagram @gemma_m_wright

Kulbir Shergill

Kulbir is Director of Social Inclusion at the University of Warwick

Sonia Boué

Sonia Boué is a multiform artist. She is also a writer on autism and art, and a leading consultant for neurodiversity in the arts. She has a significant body of postmemory work and pioneers in neuro-inclusive practice-led research.

Boué is concerned with objects, identity and location. Rooted in a fascination with family archives, material memory, and the themes of forced migration and inherited trauma, her work has been exhibited internationally and is held in digital form at Tate Britain, the BBC, and Bodleian Library in Oxford. She has performed in the UK, Ireland, and Spain. She has a significant body of postmemory work. Sonia creates Arts Council England funded projects and inclusive models of practice.She participates in a variety of community arts projects and carries out visual research in academic contexts.

Sonia was a creative consultant for the Playing A/Part Project film animation, I Feel Different. A Calling the Shots production for the Arts and Humanities Research Council supported by BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine.

Sonia is a Board member for a-n The Artists Information Company and Artist Member for CVAN SE.

Twitter: @SoniaBoue

Instagram @s_boue

Ayesha Jones

Ayesha Jones, Artist Ayesha is a mixed heritage, visual artist. She uses photography and film to interrogate social structures and belief systems, through personal narratives. Ayesha was one of Magnum Photos ’30 under 30 photographers exploring social issues’ winners in 2015 and is one of this year's Portrait of Britain winners.

Instagram: @Ayesha_Jones

Twitter: @Ayesha_Jones

Rinkoo Barpaga

Rinkoo's intention/position as an artist

Rinkoo Barpaga is a creative, adept at street photography capturing portraits of hidden people on the street. He has a keen visual eye, his work is a conversation and in his stand up comedy you can see his confidence in the hearing world. Rinkoo inspires deaf people. Rinkoo made an award winning documentary “Double Discrimination” he interviewed young people; using urban sign language to describe race discrimination. During “Black Live Matters” this pioneering work has received much attention. Rinkoo is brave, and willing to use his art practice, to tackle taboo subjects & confront audiences with difficult issues.

Rinkoo Shows

2012: The American Comedy Institute said “Rinkoo Barpaga” is a born comedian and an engaging and daring performer.” 2015: ”Am I funny” ; the life and signs of a Deaf comedian; 2017 ARHC commission by Punch records & BCU & “Bubble & Butch” sharing at the Birmingham REP and funded by Unlimited R&D, also in that year successfully applied to The Birmingham REP Foundry for emerging artists. 2018: DYCP Award. 2019: China Plate First Bite Scratch Night & keynote speech at IETM Milan, Italy & Sprint festival at Camden Peoples Theatre (CPT) programme “Made In India”. 2020: Pitch at Caravan International in Brighton. BAME Seed Commission from CPT, Offsite - an Outdoor Arts commission. In summer 2021 and again in January 2022 collaborated with theatre director Richard Hayhow to make a new outdoor work called Remote Control, received well by younger audiences.

Instagram @rinkoobarpaga

Richard Hayhow

Richard is Director of Open Theatre, which aims to place the creativity of young people with learning disabilities at the centre of the cultural life of Birmingham and Coventry. Richard established The Shysters, a company of actors with learning disabilities, in 1997 and through the development of a unique nonverbal physical theatre practice, the company gained a national reputation for the ground-breaking quality of its performance work ‘on the borderlines of theatre, dance and mime’. For the past fifteen years Richard has been forging long-term creative collaborations with special schools in the West Midlands region, to maximise the impact that nonverbal physical theatre practice can have on children’s learning and development and on their transition into adult life.

Madeleine Levy

Madeleine Levy is a published Author, Actor and accessibility expert speaker

Beginning her acting career aged seven Madeleine Levy has been cast in many musical productions her proudest performances include Mother superior in The Sound of Music and Widow Corney in Oliver Twist. Most recently Madeleine has been part of a circus style performance in collaboration with Open Theatre and the Ashton Brothers from the Netherlands. Madeleine created her own theatre company in 2014 called Alternative Voices Theatre Company. Alternative Voices is an accessible theatre company for adults with both physical and mental health conditions which offers them access to roles which they may not have the opportunity to explore in main stream theatre.

Twitter: @Atv1Levy21

Jennifer Gilbert

Jennifer is a Manchester-based gallerist, freelance producer and curator, working with and supporting self-taught, disabled, neurodivergent and overlooked artists. Having previously managed a national arts charity for under-represented artists, she launched the Jennifer Lauren Gallery in 2017 to showcase the artists internationally - through exhibitions, events and art fairs. Jennifer is passionate about promoting the voices and artworks of these artists to wider audiences alongside offering professional development and mentoring opportunities. She also runs two projects - SHIFT and Art et al. - both promote raising awareness and the profile of learning disabled and neurodivergent artists within the contemporary arts.

Instagram: @J_LGALLERY

Twitter: @J_L_GALLERY

Navkiran Kaur Mann

Navkiran Kaur Mann is a Spoken Word Artist, Writer and Creative Producer. She has produced small, medium, and large scale, multi-art form indoor and outdoor festivals. She has successfully delivered co-created, inclusive, and accessible events. She has pioneered approaches, in different languages, with communities at the heart. She is skilled at developing and platforming emerging artists from underserved audiences. The Abundance talent pipeline she created, involved a year of working with Sampad and delivery of a new platform and festival for artists with an audience of 10’000. As a spoken word artist, she has worked internationally for the Commonwealth Games, representing the UK and India.

Laura Elliot

Laura Elliot is the newly appointed CEO of the Belgrade Theatre. She has significant senior management and leadership experience, with previous roles as Programme Director at Oxford Playhouse and Programme Manager at Warwick Arts Centre.

A resident of Kenilworth for nearly a decade, she combines strong connections to the regional arts scene with a real passion for the importance of culture, particularly as part of Coventry’s UK City of Culture legacy.

Corey Campbell

Corey Campbell is the newly appointed Creative Director of the Belgrade Theatre, having been the Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director for 2021 since June 2019.

Corey is also the Artistic Director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company, formerly supported by the Belgrade’s Springboard talent development programme. Through productions such as Green Leaves Fall and the critically acclaimed, Edinburgh sell-out show Freeman, Strictly Arts have used their collaborative, devising process to bring stories from real people to the stage, with a particular focus on African and Caribbean communities.

Corey’s flagship production for the Belgrade in his tenure as Co-Artistic Director was SeaView, a new digital television series created, produced, and filmed in the West Midlands using a unique Writers Room project which involved local emerging writers from the region.

Hannah Barker

Hannah is the Creative Producer (Participation and Talent Development) at the Belgrade Theatre.


The event is supported by The Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies, University of

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