Stella Barnes & Cilla Baynes

Stella Barnes announced as Creative Director of CAN

CAN is delighted to announce the appointment of Stella Barnes as its new Creative Director, succeeding Cilla Baynes MBE, CAN’s previous Creative Director and a Co-Founder of Community Arts North West, established in 1978.

Stella joined us at the end of January 2019. She comes with a wealth of experience including consultancy for Counterpoint Arts, London, as an Associate Artist and Advisor.  Stella helped establish Platforma, a national network for refugee-related arts. Other freelance work includes work for A New Direction, Graeae Theatre and the British Council in South Africa. In 2017 she was artist-in-residence with idle women, living and working on board a narrowboat in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.  Stella recently directed STRANGER TALES, an immersive, verbatim theatre piece about Britain’s relationship with strangers, performed at Southbank Centre, London and the Platforma Festival in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  A passionate advocate of equality, community and arts for over 30 years, Stella’s work is defined by a long commitment to diversity and equality; challenging elitism in the arts and an interest in voices not heard in the mainstream.

Stella said of her appointment:

I feel privileged to succeed Cilla Baynes as Creative Director of CAN. Cilla’s work has had a huge impact on community arts regionally and nationally and CAN is a hugely respected organisation. There are exciting plans ahead and I am thrilled to be part of CAN’s future. I grew up and studied in the north of England and I am delighted to be heading north again.  With its inspirational arts scene and political history, Greater Manchester is the beating heart of this country.”

Martin Hazlehurst, Chair of Community Arts North West’s Board of Directors, commented: “CAN would like to pay tribute to Cilla for her inspirational leadership. Wider than this, her contribution to, and influence on, arts with marginalised communities and individuals has been immeasurable.  On behalf of the Board, staff, volunteers, the countless number of artists she has inspired, the communities she has worked with, I would like to thank her and wish her well in her future work.”

We are excited that Stella Barnes is joining us. We are sure that the values and principles that have been at the core of CAN’s work and success will be in safe hands. Stella is a proven leader in the sector and we feel lucky in recruiting her.

Sarah Maxfield, Area Director North, Arts Council England added:

“Cilla has been a passionate and influential leader for Community Arts North West for many years and the fact that the organisation is marking its 40th year in 2018 is an indication of what an important contribution she has made. We wish her well for the future and look forward to working with Stella as its activities continue to have a big impact both locally and nationally.”

Stella Barnes & Cilla Baynes

Still I Rise Image - Jean-Marie Simon

Still I Rise

Still I Rise

As Manchester marked the centenary of women’s suffrage, The Travelling Heritage Bureau, a powerful collective of international women artists based in the North West, came together to create a pop-up, interactive trail around Manchester Art Gallery on Sunday 7th October 2018.

The women led audiences on a joyful journey of resistance, creativity and hope, with echoes of women’s struggles across the world - to be represented, respected and to be free. The event which was seen by around 1,000 people contained film, sculpture, textiles, painting, music and poetry with cultural influences from Africa, Asia, Latin America and beyond.

Still I Rise was directed by Yusra Warsama, produced by Community Arts North West and Digital Women’s Archive North, in partnership with Manchester Art Gallery as part of Journeys Festival International and Black History Month.


Audience feedback:

"It was absolutely amazing. So inspiring. PLEASE put it on again so that I can tell everyone I know to go and see it. Such a shame only three performances. MORE people need to see this powerful, emotive and ESSENTIAL work."

“Fantastic. Moving and inspiring.”

“Really interesting - would love to see it again.”

“Very emotional, moving, and eye opening.”

“Something different to the mainstream visual art.”

“Incredible, really emotive.”

“I’m really moved by it.”

“Beautiful, really empowering.”

“Fantastic, great juxtaposition in the gallery space.”

“It became more and more engaging. You didn’t know what to expect next.”


(Image: Jean-Marie Simon)


Still I Rise A5 flyer front

Still I Rise A5 flyer reverse

One More Push 1 - Mark Simmons

One More Push @ HOME and New Adelphi Theatre

One More Push @ HOME and New Adelphi Theatre

One More Push was a solo show written and performed by Fereshteh Mozaffari, and dramatised by Rani Moorthy.

In this piece, Fereshteh used her experience of life in the UK, to grapple with the challenges and joys of life in exile. Using storytelling and dance, she lead the audience on a bitter-sweet journey of displacement, integration, change and resilience.

One More Push was supported through CAN’s Talent Development programme and was part of a HOME and CAN partnership programme of events for Refugee Week, with an additional performance at the New Adelphi Studio Theatre in Salford.

MBS1428 One More Push A5 flyer front

MBS1428 One More Push A5 flyer back

Resham colour - Copy

A Generation Rising


Directed by Kate Bradnam, Script by Ria Hartley

Devised and told by CAN Young Artists @ Home.

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” June Jordan 

It’s 2018, and we live in a rapidly changing world. We are the Generation Rising, the future leaders. We want to take you on a journey, and show you how it could be. Welcome to our world, there is a place for you here. 

Intertwining biographical narratives, visual performance, live music and audio soundscapes; this performance offered a generous and honest account of the lives and experiences of a collective of young people living in Manchester. Inspired by an exploration of personal difference, this intimate and powerful performance centred around the stories and voices of a young theatre company, fuelled by moments of heart-break, politics and uplifting wisdom.

This living piece was an utterly sincere definition of beauty in an imperfect world. CYA@HOME courageously shared their stories to inspire a hopeful vision for our future.

This was the third year and final production of a three-year Manchester Young People's Performing Arts Programme; a partnership project between CAN and HOME. It provided an exciting and inspirational cultural offer for diverse young people aged 13-18 from across Manchester with the opportunity to develop their creative ambitions and work in a cohesive group.

Generation Rising Web version-1 - Copy

Generation Rising Web version-2


Cilla Baynes wins award at WOW Festival 2018

Community Arts North West is extremely proud of Cilla Baynes, CAN's Creative Director and Co-Founder, who recently won an Inspiring Change Award as part of Southbank’s WOW Women of the World Festival 2018, for her development of the Exodus Greater Manchester Refugee Arts programme.

Cilla was shortlisted for and won an award as part of the WOW - Women in the Creative Industries Awards that took place at Royal Festival Hall on 7th March 2018. The WOW –Women in the Creative Industries Awards are the first ever cross-sector awards to honour women who are leading the way in the creative industries, and celebrate the pivotal women who make the sector as strong as it is today.

Cilla’s Inspiring Change Award, recognises the actions of women who have been instrumental in effecting positive social change, unleashing the creativity of others and giving a platform to important stories through their work in the creative industries.

Well done Cilla and thank you WOW Women of the World Festival 2018!

Speak Your Mind