CAN consists of a core Staff Team, Special Projects Staff, Freelance Artists and a Board of Directors.
Stella Barnes is Creative Director at CAN. She leads CAN’s creative team in the development and delivery of our artistically diverse, socially engaged arts programme; responding to the ambitions and cultural aspirations of Greater Manchester’s diverse communities and connecting programmes to wider cultural sector initiatives. Her role involves brokering dynamic partnerships that bring communities, artists, mainstream, independent and voluntary arts sectors together with third sector agencies, charities and public bodies.
Stella has a background as a theatre maker and arts leader and has a special interest in arts and migration. She has a wealth of experience including a long-standing connection with Counterpoint Arts in London as an Associate Artist and Advisor, where she helped set up Platforma, a national network for refugee-related arts and worked with residents of the Clapham Park Estate to develop artistic responses to regeneration.
At Ovalhouse, in South London she was Director of Participation for 13 years, where she built a large, strong engagement department, developing ground-breaking arts projects with young refugees, young emerging artists and disabled children. Previous freelance work included a residency on a narrowboat in West Yorkshire for idle women and directing a theatre piece Stranger Tales, performed at the Southbank Centre in London and the Platforma Festival in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
She has been a Consultant for A New Direction, Graeae Theatre Company and has collaborated on projects with the British Council in Southern Africa. A passionate advocate of arts and social justice, 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.
Faye is the Executive Director at CAN. She has worked at CAN since 2003, having previously worked at The Big Issue in the North as an Individuals and Trusts and Foundations Fundraiser. When Faye started working at CAN, she concentrated on development and fundraising for CAN’s programmes, working alongside CAN’s Creative Director and Creative Producers. She loved being able to support the Creative team to access funding for their projects and programmes, which could then be turned into reality.
As Executive Director, Faye is involved in all elements of the company’s business including financial management, governance with CAN’s Board of Directors, fundraising, marketing, monitoring and evaluation, the strategic development of the company, and keeping in touch with CAN’s core funders.
“As soon as I joined CAN, I found it a really exciting organisation to be part of. CAN works with such a wide range of exciting artists and Greater Manchester communities who have so many fantastic, creative ideas – I love seeing project ideas develop and come to fruition. CAN’s events are brilliant, and really enjoyable – often the end result of powerful, important, thought-provoking projects; enjoyed by diverse audiences, and often featuring great food. Every day at CAN is fascinating and inspiring. I also love working for an arts company that produces work that is political and deeply rooted in Greater Manchester’s diverse communities. It’s really important to me.”
As well as working at CAN, Faye loves dancing, reading, theatre, film, and walking in the Peak District with friends and family.
Katherine joined CAN in 2010 as the Exodus Creative Producer. In this role, she’s responsible for managing CAN’s Exodus programme, our programme of cultural production and artist development with refugees, migrants and wider communities across Greater Manchester. She also works on our Artist Development Programme.
Katherine is an accomplished musician and plays the saxophone, clarinet and a number of other instruments. As well as working for CAN, she is Chair of Music for Hope; a music and youth empowerment charity for Campesino children in El Salvador.
Katherine loves dancing, especially Flamenco, Salsa, Lindy Hop and Jive. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, walking and travelling, though she is very conscious of her carbon footprint, and is passionate about climate action. Katherine is involved in lots of local action, including Rising up Manchester Families, Levy Clean Air School Streets and Chapel Street Friends of the Park.
Katherine finds inspiration in the lives of many ordinary, or rather extraordinary people, from Manchester’s diverse artistic community and from the Campesino communities in El Salvador with whom she works. Most of her heroes and heroines are everyday people.
When Katherine was in El Salvador she survived the tropical storm, Hurricane Mitch, by swimming out of the community, for which she earned the nickname of “Hurricane Girl” in The Birmingham Evening Mail.
Kerry joined CAN as Children and Young People’s Producer in September 2019, overseeing all of CAN’s work with children and young people. As part of this, she manages the flagship CAN Young Artists programme, a company of Manchester-based young people aged 13-18, who co-create new theatre work in collaboration with inspiring creative practitioners.
Kerry is a highly experienced Creative Producer and artist, having worked at Theatre in Prisons and Probation (TIPP) in Manchester; Action Factory in Blackburn from 2009 – 2019; and, more recently, with Burnley Youth Theatre. Kerry’s specialist art form is Drama, although she often works across art forms. She has worked in the field of arts and migration for many years, developing exciting artistic initiatives across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
Kerry is an Arts Award Advisor and has worked with children and young people with a range of cultural backgrounds and experiences. She is a specialist in working with young people who live in challenging circumstances, including those who have been involved with the youth justice system. Kerry has delivered youth theatre programmes for many years, supporting groups to work inclusively with participants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Kerry is passionate about cultural exchange and equality of opportunity for all.
Kerry has admired the passion and integrity of CAN for a long time and appreciates how communities are always central to CAN’s work. She has seen this through her freelance work and now as a member of the CAN staff team. Kerry’s passion for this field of work has led her to volunteer for Refugee Week in the North West over several years.
In 2019, Kerry was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship which led her to visit Australia and the USA to see creative social enterprises working with new migrant communities first-hand.
When she is not working, Kerry loves cooking, singing, and listening to music.
Kerry works part-time three days a week.
Luba is CAN’s Financial Administrator. She has worked at CAN since 2016. Luba works one day a week dealing with all of CAN’s financial administration. This involves processing payments, updating CAN’s management accounts, reconciling budgets and working closely with CAN’s Executive Director.
“I enjoy working at CAN. I particularly enjoy working with the different Creative Producers delivering CAN’s varied creative projects, and hearing about the work CAN does. I enjoy attending CAN events and our AGM.”
Luba also works at Salford Women’s Aid. She is very sociable and loves spending time with her family and friends.
Emmanuela joined CAN in 2019 as Assistant Creative Producer for our Children and Young People’s programme. She is responsible for managing CAN’s Kámoši Juniors Performing Arts Group programme for children in Leigh, in the borough of Wigan.
Emmanuela has wide experience of participatory arts and vocal workshop delivery with children and adults. She developed her passion for music growing up in the eastern DR Congo, where she was influenced by the traditional music of African people known as “pygmies” Shi tribe of neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi.
Since arriving in the UK, Emmanuela has led many artistic initiatives including the Amani Creatives, a dynamic collective of artists of African genres from the North West of England, where she is founder and Creative Producer. Emmanuela has performed at Manchester International Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Band on the Wall, Shambala, Eurovision, WOW/Southbank Centre amongst others.
Emmanuela has been a recipient of CAN’s artist development programmes for several years, where she has honed her producing, project management and fundraising skills.
Emmanuela is multilingual and speaks Swahili, Lingala, French and English, as well as some of her tribal language Kirega. She has recently started a blog, where she writes about her artistic projects as a singer-songwriter and Creative Producer, and about African arts and culture in general. She is also developing creative work that presents an Afrocentric perspective on climate justice.
Remi Adefeyisan is the latest recruit to the CAN team joining us in May 2021 as a freelance, interim Creative Producer. Remi will be working on some of the projects CAN is delivering this summer – 2021’s Horizons Festival leading community outreach with Rethink Rebuild and the North West Turkey Community Association to develop visual arts workshops and an exhibition at HOME; as a producer on the Hunger project with writer/performer Abas Eljanabi; and the live-streamed launch of the Black Lives Matter Poetry Anthology (internal link) with Ambrose Musiyiwa.
He is currently the Creative Producer for the performance company You, Us & Them, developing a new piece that blends movement, visual projection, rap, and an original composition. Remi was the Lead Producer for the research and development of BRICKS for the Old Vic, London in 2020.
Remi’s work as a producer includes work that has toured to venues and festivals throughout the UK: Old Vic, London, HOME, Liverpool Brouhaha Carnival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Remi is an alumnus from Stage One as one of their bursary winners in 2018/2019. That year, Remi was a Jerwood Fellow at MIF He’s worked with award-winning artists and directors including actors Idris Elba, Sinead Cusack, Michael Ward, Alfred Enoch; theatre directors Kwame Kwei-Armah and Sarah Meadows; and the writer Emma Dennis-Edwards.
He was part of CAN’s Producer Training Scheme in 2016 and studied Media Production at the University of Bolton.
Ambrose Musiyiwa joined CAN in 2020 as the PhD candidate in our unique partnership with The University of Manchester. His thesis Listening to the voices of Refugee-Heritage Artists is possibly the first of its kind in the UK.
He is a Poet, Journalist, and Photographer. His poems have been featured in many anthologies and his journalism, short stories, and essays have been published in newspapers and magazines in the UK, Zimbabwe, the US, and South Korea. His poem The Man Who Ran Through The Tunnel has been translated into over 12 languages.
Ambrose is interested in the intersection between arts, activism, migration, and community action and has organised numerous creative projects, including the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and Civic Leicester, a community media channel highlighting conversations taking place in and around Leicester.
He edited the poetry anthology Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World which was published in 2020.
Sue has a long history with CAN as she was a board member and then Chair in the late 90s until 2008. Over the years, she’s freelanced with the organisation developing marketing and audience development strategies, delivered PR for projects, and supported CAN in an advisory role. Working alongside the CAN team, Sue project managed the development of CAN’s new website in 2021.
Previous marketing and audience development roles include Marketing Manager at MMU for a sustainability think-tank; Contact, when it opened as a new model of youth-led theatre under the artistic leadership of John McGrath; and at The Whitworth with Maria Balshaw. Leadership roles include Head of Marketing and Communications for Oldham Coliseum Theatre. Her freelance work includes projects for Quarantine, Forced Entertainment, Salford University, Manchester City Council, Warrington Council, and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in the early 2000s. She has experience of working in the third sector – with the North West’s leading HIV charity, George House Trust, and for the national youth training charity, Rathbone. Sue works on various freelance projects and is a Consultant at Richard Newton Consulting in Cardiff.
An active campaigner for good mental health, Sue is a member of the Greater Manchester Independent Mental Health Network – Lived Experience group which is advising on the transformation of mental health services in Greater Manchester and is a supporter of Bipolar UK.
Out of the office, Sue enjoys music, the visual arts, performance, film, and travel. She has a lot of books. Sue is a committed turophile (cheese lover).
Sue works part-time for CAN.
Nicola is the Senior Administrator at Community Arts North West, and joined in July 2021. Nicola previously worked at the University of Manchester for 16 years in Researcher Development, which involved supporting Postgraduate Research Students during their PhDs through workshops, training and events.
As Senior Administrator, Nicola manages the CAN office and administration systems; supports the CAN Board and executive function of the organisation and is responsible for reporting to CAN’s core funders.
Away from work, Nicola enjoys working on her allotment, going to concerts and spending time with her family.
Board of Directors
Rajesh Patel is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield in Youth and Community Work.
He writes about creativity, reflective practice in education and issues of race. He has worked in higher education for 15 years.
Previously, Rajesh worked as a Volunteer, Worker and Senior Manager in the youth and community sector across the North West and in West Yorkshire. For three years he was the North West Manager for CAPE UK working in fundraising, business planning, and advocacy.
Rajesh holds a PhD in Reflective Practice where the use of creative research methods formed a major part of his work.
Rajesh was first involved with CAN 30 years ago as a young person taking part in a music project for Black communities in Tameside.
Councillor Tim Whiston
Councillor Tim Whiston
Councillor Tim Whiston has been a Councillor for the Sharston ward in Manchester since 2019. As well as being a Councillor, he studies English Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Tim also substitutes as the Manchester Council member of the GMCA Arts and Culture Board.
Katie Hall is CAN’s Treasurer. She is Principal Director of Slade and Cooper Accountants.
Katie is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and has gained a Diploma in Charity Accounting. She is a member of the ICAEW special interest group for Charities and the Voluntary Sector and Audit & Assurance faculty.
Katie has experience of both working and volunteering for charities and community groups as well as being self-employed. Katie prides herself on the fact that she is one of the few ACCA qualified accountants that also has a degree in acting and a City and Guilds in specialist decorative finishes.
Katie also volunteers for a number of local groups, and enjoys the outdoors and off-road and distance running.
Gurdeep Thiara has worked in community engagement in Manchester’s cultural, voluntary and charity sector for over 20 years. She is committed to building meaningful relationships both with and within communities using inclusive and creative approaches.
Gurdeep has led outreach, education and exhibition projects at the People’s History Museum and the Manchester Museum with people and groups from the region’s diverse communities including schools, community centres and mental health charities.
Her recent work with Refugee Action involved setting up services for newly arrived refugees to help them build better lives in Greater Manchester.
She has used arts, sport and education to promote health, well-being and social change. She is experienced in project management; training development; group-work facilitation; events management and partnership work.
Gurdeep loves music, dancing and yoga, and is a strong advocate for the power the arts has for social change.
Martin Hazlehurst is the Chair of CAN’s Board of Directors. Martin was formerly the National Manager of the National Care Advisory Service. He was the founding Director of A National Voice, a user-led organisation representing children and young people in care and care leavers. He has been a member of the CAN Board for nearly 20 years.
“I’ve been proud to be a member, and, more recently, Chair of CAN’s Board. Given my professional background, I’ve been particularly in awe of CAN’s work with young people, giving a voice and creating great art with young people from diverse communities. The work delivered by CAN has always been inspirational as it develops quality arts projects that connect some of the best artists working in the participatory arts sector with Greater Manchester’s communities. CAN creates projects that really resonate with audiences and live long in the memory.”
Maya Sharma is the Collections Access Officer at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre, where she works with a rich and varied set of collections all relating to Black, Asian and people of migrant heritage.
Previously, she worked for The Audience Agency, helping cultural organisations understand and diversify their audiences as well as embed learning and engagement in their activities. She has also worked for the National Lottery Heritage Fund and for the Oxfam Routes to Solidarity Programme, supporting minoritised women’s organisations in the North West.
She has a long track record of working with seldom-listened-to and often marginalised communities and their organisations, as well as pushing for more meaningful diversity work within mainstream organisations.
Lesa Dryburgh is CAN’s Vice-Chair.
Lesa is a coach, facilitator, trainer, project manager, and communications consultant in the cultural and social sectors.
As well as running her own small businesses offering services to individuals and organisations, Lesa is Co-Director of Unchained Phoenix Community Interest Company and a Volunteer Recovery Coach with Emerging Futures Manchester.
Lesa has worked regionally, nationally, and internationally in the countries of Georgia and Singapore with the British Council. She is a Clore Fellow, an International Member of the Association for Coaching (MAC), and Fellow of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).
Lesa lives in Manchester, sings in a community choir, cycles about, and loves live music and performance, nowadays on Zoom.
Dr Peggy Mulongo
Dr Peggy Mulongo
Dr Peggy Mulongo is a cross-cultural mental health practitioner with over 15 years’ experience of working with Black and Asian communities in the UK. She is a co-founder of NESTAC, a refugee community organisation that addresses their well-being, primarily in Greater Manchester.
Peggy is an expert in delivering cross-cultural psycho-social therapy to refugees and asylum seekers, especially women and young girls who have experienced mental distress from abuse and trauma associated with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Peggy is a national lead UK FGM Consultant, Mental Health lecturer and Campaigner. She initiated the FGM programme Support Our Sisters (SOS) – a British Journal of Midwifery (BJM) award-winner in 2015 – and the Guardian Project in 2016 to support children and young girls who are victims or at risk of FGM. More recently in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peggy launched the Ear for You Project, a regional therapeutic helpline to support minoritised communities severely affected by COVID.
Peggy’s postgraduate studies (MSc and PhD – University of Salford) specifically focused on mental health and culture, researching the effects of FGM on the mental health of survivors (MSc), and how acculturation could affect young refugees settling in the UK (PhD). Peggy has a keen interest in Community Based Participatory Research that helps to promote health equality, using creative and visual art research methods. She is the Head of Health & Well-being at NESTAC and a Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing and Practice at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Ouzma Anwar is currently a Senior Commercial Analyst at AO World, electrical retailer Bolton, where she manages a small team and provides strategic decisions regarding their B2B data and operational model.
She previously worked as a Data and Insight Analyst for the General Medical Council providing Data Analysis and insights for publications, researching literature, and facilitating bespoke workshops; and at Manchester City Council as a Research and Statistics Officer.
Ouzma also previously worked for the People’s History Museum, as a PA and Marketing Assistant, supporting data-management and the Board of Trustees, where she gained invaluable insight into the cultural sector.
Ouzma lives in Manchester and loves spending time with family including her fifteen nephews and nieces. She also enjoys reading, exploring local independent cafes and eateries, and is currently learning how to roller-skate.
Artists and Associates
Chelsea Morgan is the Lead Artist for Kámoši Juniors Performing Arts Group, CAN’s project for children in Leigh, in the borough of Wigan, and has worked on other CAN projects over the years.
She has worked in theatre engagement and participation for the last 10 years. Previously, Chelsea worked in Oldham Coliseum’s Learning Department and at the Royal Exchange Theatre developing, producing, and delivering projects across Greater Manchester. As a creative, she has worked for other organisations including HOME, The Lowry, and Art With A Heart developing creative projects both nationally and internationally.
Jaydev Mistry is currently working with CAN on its Kámoši Juniors Performing Arts Group in Leigh as a Music Facilitator and Musical Director/Composer supporting children from diverse cultural backgrounds to develop their confidence through music, exploring the issues that matter to them such as climate change. In Winter 2020, Kámoši Juniors’ planned performance showcase was put on hold due to COVID but the group is working remotely on songwriting and crafts sharing their work virtually.
Other work for CAN includes its ambitious three-year Urban Music Theatre Project 2006 – 2008 of music, theatre, and dance that brought together young people to explore identity through urban styles. As an acclaimed Composer and Multi-Instrumentalist, Jaydev composed music for CAN Young Artist’s production of The Snow Dragons by the award-winning playwright Lizzie Nunnery which was performed at HOME and as part of the National Theatre’s Connections Festival in 2017.
Jaydev Mistry is a guitarist, percussionist, and music technologist. Besides his work for CAN, he has won an Amnesty International award for his music. He has collaborated with artists such as Nitin Sawhney and the hip-hop group, Kaliphz. Jaydev has performed in many bands including Timeless Love Orches-tra, Giddy and B.B and Me performing in venues including Band on the Wall, The Bridgewater Hall, the Royal Exchange Theatre, the Pompidou Centre (Paris), and the Hackney Empire.
He specializes in composition and sound design for performance and has been commissioned by companies including Red Ladder Theatre Company, Theatre in the Mill, as well as BBC Radio 4. Jaydev has worked with Music Action International which supports torture survivors.
Currently, he’s working with Manchester Camerata on Dementia Voices to develop a new piece of performance created with multiple dementia support groups from Greater Manchester, and the award-winning writer Louise Wallwein MBE, Sue Roberts, Andrea Vogler, and Heather Bills.
Abas Eljanabi is an Actor, Writer and Theatre Director from Baghdad, Iraq, who uses his life experiences to inform his creative practice, to explore his interests in human rights, freedom, and migration. Abas’s work with CAN includes:
“Working with CAN has connected me with many creative people working in different art forms from diverse nationalities and backgrounds, from artists just starting out to someone who’s worked for years in the creative sector. CAN has opened doors for me to connect with many organisations and opportunities to help me to develop my career and profile in the UK.”
In 1993, Abas left Iraq with a BA in Theatre Studies. He travelled through many countries, at times, living as a refugee before settling in Manchester.
Abas has a BA (Hons) in Performance, Design and Management and a MA in Theatre Studies from The University of Manchester.
His recent acting roles include Cohere, (Horizons Festival, 2019), an installation/performance about refugee experiences, Ancient Objects (Manchester Museum/Journeys Festival International, 2018), a writing/performance commission responding to museum objects, and Flight (Reveal Festival/The Octagon Theatre, Bolton, 2017) the story of a father and daughter fleeing Syria. Abas has written, performed, and directed work for Contact (Game Over, 2013) and The Royal Exchange (Knock, Knock, 2010).
His recent film and television credits include Eaten by Lions (Director: Jason Wingard 2018), Freesia (Director: Conor Ibrahiem 2017), The Dumping Ground (CBBC, 2016), and Foyle’s War (ITV, 2015). Abas also works as a professional interpreter.
Kooj Chuhan is a Digital Artist, Filmmaker, Creative Producer, and Activist working in digital arts and film to explore issues such as social justice, the environment and diversity.
Kooj has designed and produced the project, Climate Connections, through his company, Crossing Footprints with Oldham Libraries in partnership with CAN. The project is empowering people from Oldham’s diverse communities to develop and use social media content to both explore and protest against climate injustice. Climate change is already affecting countries outside of the developed world inequitably and it will force the mass migration of people.
Another recent project for CAN is as Producer/Manager on its Libraries of Sanctuary project, part of the Exodus programme, creating a series of creative welcome events and artist showcases in nine libraries across Bolton, Manchester, and Oldham. Each library will host six creative welcome events with up to four artists music and digital arts to explore issues including climate change. The project has been interrupted by the COVID pandemic. The project will be restaged in 2021.
Kooj was a tutor on the CAN Do Creatives course supporting artists from under-represented communities to develop a sustainable career which is more important than ever during the pandemic with its negative effect on the creative sector.
He began his career with CAN as a volunteer in the early 1980s and then becoming CAN’s full-time Music Worker in the mid-1980s. Kooj has worked extensively for CAN with projects including the Exodus programme and with the Kámoši Juniors Performing Arts Group in Leigh.
In 2007 he led the organisation as Creative Director during CAN’s then Creative Director Cilla Baynes’ sabbatical.
Kooj has worked with international artists including Keith Piper and Shahidul Alam. His work has been widely exhibited: Arnolfini (Bristol), ICA (London), and internationally in San Diego, Paris, and Toronto. Kooj is the founder of the artist collective Virtual Migrants, independently operating as Metaceptive Projects and Crossing Footprints.
His award-winning exhibition Footprint Modulation connecting the impact of climate change on the forced migration of people was exhibited across five venues in Durham. Other climate arts work includes Chamada From Chico Mendes combining documentary, poetry, and sound from across the world. Buy This was an evolving series of two-screen interactive video installations connecting consumerism, environmental degradation, and displacement.
He is a former board member of FACT, Liverpool, and a consultant for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Kooj was the co-founder of the Black Arts Alliance and Black Issues in Community Arts (BICA) project. His work in the education work sector includes teaching at FE and HE level – he was a part-time lecturer on the Filmmaking degree at MMU.
Mahboobeh Rajabi is currently working on the Rochdale Voices of Women project, a partnership between CAN, M6 Theatre, and KYP, as a Facilitator and Creative Producer developing a safe and inclusive space women-led creative space. The project will begin in June 2021.
Her involvement with CAN began in 2010 as a Volunteer then progressing to the roles of Assistant Theatre Director and Digital Artist working on projects including the women’s theatre programme, Heart’s Core, and Rule 35. She was a Digital Assistant on Lisapo – The Congolese Tales creative oral history project between 2013 – 2014.
Other CAN work includes Still I Rise, in partnership with the Digital Women Archive North, at Manchester Art Gallery with the Travelling Heritage Bureau in 2018. Digital projects for CAN include Do I.T and as Digital Artist and Digital Producer for CAN’s programme for children and young people.
As part of TANDEM (European Cultural Foundation), she was a Digital Artist working alongside Sara Domville, CAN’s Digital Creative Producer. The project developed a partnership with Vrolijkheid in Amsterdam to produce a documentary and training tool about co-creation with diverse communities in the two cities. The film was shown at the Leeuwarden Film Festival in The Netherlands.
Mahboobeh was a CAN Artist-in-Resident in 2017 -2018.
Mahboobeh has a Directing Theatre Associate’s Degree from Shiraz Azad University in Iran. She came to the UK aged 21. She was a MIF Jerwood Creative Fellow in 2017. She was part of a webinar on Migration and Health at the WHO on her work with refugees and asylum seekers at CAN. In 2020 Mahboobeh worked with universities including Leeds University’s Cultural Institute as an Artist as part of the Beyond Measure project and with The University of Manchester on the project Girlhood. Since 2018, Mahoobeh has worked with Commonword as its Digital Literature Co-ordinator developing the first Digital Literature Map of Manchester in partnership with Manchester City of Literature.
Farjana Kabir created a short film – 5 am – as one of the three films, created by CAN artists, in The Mother Tongue Is Hungry, CAN’s contribution to the Manchester UNESCO City of Literature’s live-streamed celebration of the UN’s International Mother Tongue Day in February 2021.
Her film explored the power and memory of language through a phone call from England to Bangladesh. The film mixed footage from her home in England and film made by family and friends in Bangladesh.
Through the Libraries of Sanctuary project in Bolton, Farjana created and performed poetry with people from migrant and refugee heritages. She was part of the CAN project Cohere performed at 2019’s Horizons Festival. The short film was subsequently screened at the Hull Film Festival. Farjana’s work has included projects with the Octagon Theatre’s Women’s Group, Tower Hamlets Council’s Bangla Drama Season, and the V&A.
Farjana came to the UK a decade ago from Bangladesh where she studied theatre at the University of Dhaka and went on to work in performance, theatre, TV, and costume design across the country. Farjana worked with people of all ages in urban and rural communities across Bangladesh through Theatre for Development and Theatre in Education projects to empower communities and create lasting social change. She was awarded Best Director in 2010’s National Children Theatre Festival. On coming to the UK, Farjana began working in film. She began her PhD in Theatre Studies at Warwick University in 2021.
Louison Kangombe joined CAN in 2005 as a digital artist creating films and working as an assistant on CAN’s short film workshops for artists and aspiring filmmakers from a refugee background. He has been a long-time collaborator on the Exodus project which led him to be a performer with the WorldWide Workshop theatre company based at Manchester’s Royal Exchange.
He returned to filmmaking and performance after studying at the University of Salford.
Louison’s most recent collaboration with CAN was the creation and presentation of his film in CAN’s project The Mother Tongue is Hungry, part of the online event for Manchester City of Literature’s celebration of 2021’s UN’s International Mother Tongue Day.
His film explored how Lingala came to be the language of DR Congo. Louison’s film Lingala was a fascinating journey through the history of the country and people’s mother tongue and his relationship with language.
Jade Williams is a Black, Queer, multi-disciplinary artist from Manchester working in dance, poetry, writing, performance, and creative facilitation.
She is the Lead Artist for CAN’s Bury Schools Linking Project.
She joined CAN in 2019 working with the Kámoši Juniors Performing Arts Group for children in Leigh.
During Spring – Summer 2021, Jade is working with Oldham Coliseum as a Creative Facilitator.
For the Coliseum, Jade is developing Pablo Fanque’s Fantastic Fair working through movement, dance, drama, visual art, and poetry with people from the diverse communities of Oldham. The project explores obscured Black British Histories through the life story of Pablo Fanque, a 19th century Black British circus owner, who toured his circus all over the UK, particularly the North of England. The project will culminate with a showcase at the Coliseum in May 2021. Jade shares some of Pablo’s story here in a video she made with CAN in summer 2020.
In 2020, Jade was a trainee on the CAN Do Creatives course, funded by the European Social Fund; a project to support artists of all disciplines to develop greater resilience for their creative businesses.
Jade is a Curious Minds trained ArtsMark Partner and works in schools as a Creative Facilitator. She is also a performer and has appeared at venues and events including STUN, Emergency, Tickle My Fancy, Allure of Sorts (commissioned by Tape and Scaffold Gallery), and NIAMOS.
She has a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages: French and Spanish from The University of Manchester and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education in Spanish from Manchester Metropolitan University.