Leon Patel

I had the pleasure of working with CAN as Exodus Artistic Manager between 2006 and 2007. Working alongside the CAN team I was involved in helping to deliver some incredible projects.

These included high-profile popular events such as the Exodus Festival, Exodus Live band nights, Exodus Onstage theatre season, Exodus Sparks new writing project, and the Urban Music Theatre Project.  My highlight was the Beating Wing International Orchestra which brought together 12 musicians from around the world and was premiered to critical acclaim at the Manchester International Festival in 2007.

Before joining CAN I was a freelance artist and Project Manager and established several community arts projects throughout Greater Manchester.  My role at CAN was really my first taste of working with a professional funded arts organisation in Manchester. It significantly contributed to my skills and profile as an arts leader in Greater Manchester. It was invaluable to see how larger and more experienced organisations worked in my short time working there. It was a springboard for me to consolidate my journey as an arts leader – I’ve since gone on to lead the successful Arts Council England-funded outdoor arts organisation Global Grooves and establish The Vale, a Carnival Arts Centre of Excellence in Tameside.

Global Grooves partnered with CAN to create the Exodus parade as part of the Manchester Day Parade. The project brought together hundreds of people, performers, and makers from across Greater Manchester’s diverse communities to create a unique production including song, dance, visual arts, and brass.

CAN is an incredibly important organisation for Manchester, particularly as it works with people, artists, and producers that traditionally may not have a voice or opportunity in the cultural sector. Its approach to participatory arts has absolute integrity at its core. And it’s this integrity that brings trust and friendship so the organisation connects with those from all walks of life with equity. That’s what makes CAN such a close friend to many whether these are individual relationships with people or partnerships between organisations and networks.