Luton Creative Leaders - 2021-22 cohort
2021 Luton Creative Leaders
Top row: L-R: Aaron Spendelow, Alva Wilson, Haleema Ali, Jakub Rokita, John Fischer
Bottom row: L-R: Lavz, Mary Hearne, Perry Louis, Sophie Gresswell, Taliha Quadri
Luton Council and Revoluton Arts are thrilled to have selected ten local people for the town’s inaugural Creative Leadership programme.
Funded by Arts Council England, the Luton Creative Leaders programme will address the key barriers to accessing careers in the creative industries and enable diversity in local arts leadership. It offers a paid opportunity for ten people who will help shape local arts and culture and improve the representation of culturally and ethnically diverse and disadvantaged people in the local arts sector.
The ten leaders were chosen from a very competitive field of applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. They represent the town’s black, Asian, Eastern European, mixed-race and white British communities and include representation from people identifying as LGBTQI, economically disadvantaged and disabled.
Between them, these leaders represent the performing arts, visual arts, craft, textiles, music and publishing sectors. The ten inaugural leaders are:
Artform: Performing Arts for families and children
Aaron trained at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. He is an experienced actor, presenter, storyteller & theatre maker. Aaron has travelled the world in a variety of productions for TV, Theatre and Film and is focused on creating high quality theatre work for the audience of families and children.
"Luton is a diverse town and the people are the celebration of what makes it extra special. As a Lutonian, born and bred, I feel responsible and enthusiastic to contribute to strategic decision making, shape strategic projects and support other artists develop in their field to make the town a brighter and better place to be."
Artforms: Craft and Millinery
Alva Wilson is a, visual artist, designer, maker, photographer and teacher - continuously adapting and exploring developing his creative practices.
Artform: Community producer and Artivist
Haleema is an artist, activist and educator who uses creativity to inspire social change. She curates moments which bring together the community to address hard-hitting issues and has had her exhibitions on knife crime and human rights featured on BBC News.
"I'm excited to be a part of the Creative Leaders programme, to help shape the cultural landscape in Luton and be part of a group of pioneers pushing for diversity within the arts and culture sector nationally. We live in a thriving multicultural hubbub, filled with diverse creative talent, yet much of this is untapped.
I look forward to using this platform as a springboard to enable better representation, particularly for marginalised groups, so we can provide an inclusive space for artists to flourish."
Artform: Digital arts and Interdisciplinary arts
Jakub is a digital artist working with many media: from print to live visuals and sound. He had the opportunity to take part in several Luton public projects and collaborate with artists. His practice aims to bridge the gap between the aural and the visual and create a collaborative platform for aspiring and emerging artists.
"This programme offers an immense opportunity for local creatives to take an active part in making the town more inclusive and creative. I'm very proud to have been selected and am looking forward to joining the other Luton creatives on this fantastic and exciting journey!"
Artform: Music, event producer and curator
John has been involved in Luton's live and nightclub scene for over 20 years. As well as programming heritage grassroots venues in Brighton and London.
"Luton means a lot to me. This is a great opportunity to get fully involved with the growth and development of art and culture within the town."
Lavz is an experimental Hip-Hop musician with a message of hope and empowerment in her music, she is also a music facilitator with a passion for social change.
"Being a part of the Luton Creatives Leaders programme is an amazing opportunity for me to develop myself in the knowledge of the arts sector and how to best serve my community by becoming the change I want to see."
Artforms: Textiles and Arts & Health
Mary is a Luton based socially engaged arts practitioner, workshop facilitator and textiles artist. Having lived, studied and worked in Luton all her life she knows the town well and understands its artistic and cultural needs.
Mary focuses on health, wellbeing and the understanding of illness and recovery, and believes that art is essential to a community, where the process of creating something artistic is beneficial for all.
"I am excited to be a Luton Creative Leader as I am passionate about our artistic community within the town. I am keen to see accessibility to the arts in Luton grow, and to see Luton become a destination for arts and culture."
Artforms: Dance, performing arts and heritage
Perry is an international jazz dancer and lead dancer and choreographer for the Jazzcotech dancers. He is also an international DJ and specialises in promoting UK Dance Floor Jazz.
I am excited to be part of the team and to lead by example as one of Luton’s Creative Leaders."
Artforms: Visual arts, digital arts and heritage
Sophie Gresswell is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on belonging, identity and empowering neglected narratives. Sophie has run several public art projects locally and recently created work for BBC Arts.
"I am excited to be part of the Luton Creative Leaders programme, it is such a valuable chance to champion the vibrant creativity our town holds and empower the voices that make us who we are."
Artform: Literature and publishing
Taliha Quadri is a freelance proof-reader and co-founder of The Selkie Publications CIC – a non-profit literary magazine. She’s an avid reader, a cat mum, and likes to paint in her free time.
"I'm excited to connect with the creatives in Luton and help create opportunities for increased literary engagement in town."