The 2021/2022 Luton Creative Leaders programme, offers paid opportunities to help shape local arts and culture, enabling better artist representation in decision making and the development of creative projects in Luton. It will also help develop the leadership, arts advocacy, and applied arts skills of Luton artists, improving their capacity to work as leaders in their field and supporting the diversification of arts leadership nationally.
Ten local people were chosen from a 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 or disabled. The cohort represent the performing arts, visual arts, craft, textiles, music, and publishing sectors.
The Creative Leaders will inform projects led by Luton Council, Revoluton Arts and other key arts organisations, as well as leading projects of their own, designed to address key challenges in the arts sector, including in the night-time economy, outdoor events and creative education.
Performing Arts for families & 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 & children.
"Luton is a diverse mixed cultured 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, shaping strategic projects and supporting other artists develop in their field to make the town a brighter and better place to be"
Haleema Ali is an artist, activist and educator who uses creativity to inspire social change. Haleema 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."
Digital arts/Interdiscplinary arts
Jakub is a digital artist working with many different media: from print to live visuals and sound. He has been involved in several Luton public projects and has collaborated with other 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!"
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."
Textiles/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 it’s artistic and cultural needs.
Mary focuses on health, well-being 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.”
Perry Louis is an International Jazz Dancer, lead dancer and choreographer for the Jazzcotech dancers. Perry 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 Creatives."
Visual Arts/Digital arts/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 program, it is such a valuable chance to champion the vibrant creativity our town holds and empower the voices that make us who we are."
Taliha Quadri is a freelance proofreader 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."