CAN consists of a core Staff Team, Special Projects Staff, Freelance Artists and a Board of Directors.
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, where she won a Professional Fundraising Award 2004. 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.
Originally trained at The New College of Speech and Drama, Cilla is a pioneer of participatory arts production and its workshop methodologies, with both excluded and culturally diverse communities. Her work reached the North West, London and other parts of the UK. She oversaw the development of the nationally significant Exodus Refugee Arts programme for which she won an Inspiring Change Award as part of Southbank’s WOW Women of the World Festival 2018.
Under Cilla’s leadership, CAN became a leading organisation in the field of participatory arts, migration and social change. CAN’s work aims to create expression and visibility for the diverse people and artists based in the region through dynamic partnerships and inspirational programmes of work.
Cilla stepped down as Creative Director from Community Arts North West (CAN) at the end of 2018.
She is currently supporting CAN as Interim Creative Lead, whilst CAN is in the process of recruiting a new Creative Director.
Katherine joined CAN in 2010 as the Senior 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.
Sue has a long history with CAN as she was a board member and then Chair in the late 90s until 2010. 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 (MIF); and at The Whitworth with Maria Balshaw (TATE). 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 branding for Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (ESEA Contemporary) in the early 2000s. She has experience 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. She also works as a freelance Marketing Consultant with Hemingway Design on creative projects focused on place, people and positive social impact. She works with other organisations with a long association with CAN, including the African arts collective, Amani Creatives and Global Grooves.
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. She is a mentor for Arts Emergency which gives young people a fair start in the arts and humanities. Sue is on the Advisory Board for Broken Grey Wires.
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.
Michelle Udogu joined CAN in February 2022 as one of our team of Creative Producers.
Michelle works with talented artists and diverse communities to develop high-quality projects and events across the North West. She is committed to the principle of co-creation ensuring communities have free artistic expression and their voices are heard through the development of respectful creative spaces.
Her CV includes work for Contact, MIF, GMMAZ, Z-arts, Music Action International, Platform Mcr and many others.
Michelle combines her career as an acclaimed arts producer, musician and session singer with her styles spanning funk, jazz, afrobeat, samba, dance, and electronica.
Michelle has worked with many high-profile artists. This includes supporting Public Enemy with her band 2FO, being part of the Gorillaz Live Tour of Damon Albarn’s Demon Days album in a 20 Piece choir and performing in the Goldfrapp performances at MIF. Michelle has sung in a collective with Angelique Kidjo on a WOW festival tour.
Other collaborations include work with Brazilian acts: Ministerio de Publico, Olodum and The River Niger Band. In the electronic scene, Michelle has worked with producers Aquasky, Mettle Music, Backdraft and Botchit’ n’ Scarper.
A talented jeweller, Michelle works in silver and mixed media showcasing her work with local communities to skill share and create conversations.
Mahboobeh joined CAN as one of our team of Creative Producers in February 2022.
Her involvement with CAN began in 2010 as a Volunteer and she progressed to the roles of Assistant Theatre Director and Digital Artist 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 work for CAN includes 2018’s Still I Rise, in partnership with the Digital Women Archive North, at Manchester Art Gallery with the Travelling Heritage Bureau. Digital projects for CAN include Do I.T and as Digital Artist/Producer for CAN’s programme for children and young people.
As part of TANDEM (European Cultural Foundation), Mahboobeh 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.
She was a CAN Artist-in-Resident in 2017 -2018.
Mahboobeh was a MIF Jerwood Creative Fellow in 2017. She was part of a webinar on Migration and Health that the WHO produced 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. She is developing the project Made In Persia with The University of Manchester
Her CV includes roles with Commonword as its Digital Literature Co-ordinator developing the first Digital Literature Map of Manchester in partnership with Manchester City of Literature.
Mahboobeh has a Directing Theatre Associate Degree from Shiraz Azad University in Iran. She came to the UK aged 21.
Cathy is CAN’s part-time Financial Administrator. Cathy works with all of CAN’s financial administration including processing payments, management accounts, reconciling budgets, and working closely with Faye, our Executive Director.
Cathy co-founded the community radio charity Radio Regen and currently provides financial services to several voluntary sector organisations such as Future’s Venture Foundation, Ben’s Centre for Vulnerable People, and Ordsall Community Arts.
Cathy is a Trustee of Manchester Digital Music Archive. As a bass player, she has played 100s of gigs over the years and was featured in five BBC Radio One John Peel sessions. Cathy also made an 18-month-long tandem bicycle ride from Sydney to Manchester to raise awareness about rainforest destruction.
In her spare time, Cathy enjoys country walks, running, and going to gigs.
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.
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.
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 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.
With an extensive professional background working with young people, often those furthest away from opportunities, Martin is passionate about the work CAN does to connect young people to high-quality creative projects.
Martin has been involved with CAN as a board member for nearly 20 years. His roles have included Treasurer and Chair. Martin stepped down from the role of Chair in 2022.
Lesa is from Salford and lives in Manchester. She is a Clore Fellow, and has over 20 years of experience working within the arts, education, and live games sectors as Director of her own limited company, Stop the Pigeon.
As a Culture Consultant and Comprehension Strategist, she has supported the launch of new performing arts companies and venues in the UK, including Contact, Cast in Doncaster, The Core at Corby Cube, Corby, National Theatre Wales, Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, and Theatre Porto, Ellesmere Port, with Brand Identity, Audience Development and Communications strategies and implementation.
A Projects and Events Manager, a major client in the live games sector was the Commonwealth Games Glasgow, where she was Project Manager for the Queen’s Baton Relay, which included a major homecoming event and Closing Ceremony covered live by the BBC. She has also worked across all five schools with the University of Salford as Special Projects Manager, enlivening the three campus locations with creative events.
As an experienced group Facilitator, she has worked with many individuals and companies to support Personal, Business, Organisational Change and Development, including clients and short course participants of the Clore Leadership Programme, Hull Truck Theatre Company, and Triple C.
As a Trainer, Lesa has worked internationally in Georgia and Singapore.
Lesa enjoys live performance, meditation, nature, and dancing (not all at the same time)!
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.
Denis Skelton is the Chair of CAN’s Board of Directors.
He worked with Petrus Community in Rochdale for over 30 years in roles including Project Leader and then as its Head.
Working across Greater Manchester, Petrus provides a range of services for homeless women and men, many of whom have significant support needs.
During this time, Petrus developed from having one house for twelve men to supporting several hundred individuals per year through a supported housing and engagement service, diversified its income streams and grew its turnover to over £2,000,000.
His interests and expertise lie in social welfare, community engagement, homelessness, and supporting and developing vulnerable and challenged adults.
Since 2015, Denis has been a Councillor for Todmorden Town Council and is now Co-Leader.
Denis is a trustee and director for a number of organisations including the Old Library Community Centre in Todmorden, Walsden Cricket Ground, Heptonstall Exhibitions Trust and the Richard Naylor Trust.
Sherelle is Digital Strategy Lead at Manchester City Council, where she is responsible for designing and implementing the Digital Inclusion Action Plan which drives the delivery of Manchester City Council’s strategy and focus on reducing digital poverty.
Sherelle has most recently been appointed into the new senior leadership role of Digital Strategy Lead where she will soon lead the implementation of the City’s five-year strategy for the people who live and work in Manchester.
Sherelle is a creative with a qualification in Decorative Arts and has worked within the inequalities and social change space across the public and third sectors for over 10 years. Sherelle believes true cross-organisational collaboration mobilises action and long-lasting change and she is enthused by projects that enable people to live their lives independently and to the full.
Sherelle is a proud and curious Mancunian who loves the magic of food and cooking.
Remi Adefeyisan has a long association with CAN as a freelance associate. He was part of CAN’s Producer Training Scheme in 2016. He joined CAN’s board in 2022.
In 2021, as CAN’s Associate Creative Producer, Remi worked on the 2021’s Horizons Festival, where he organised community outreach with Rethink Rebuild and the North West Turkey Community Association. He developed visual arts workshops and an exhibition at HOME with the association. Remi was the producer of our Hunger project with the writer and performer Abas Eljanabi. He also managed the live-streamed launch of the Black Lives Matter Poetry Anthology with the editor and writer Ambrose Musiyiwa.
Remi now works as the Programme Producer at HOME. His work spans developing and managing relationships with partner organisations, co-producers, visiting and touring companies and artists. Remi oversees and plans liaison with incoming artists. Remi is working with the wider HOME team to grow the artistic and commercial potential of programming.
Remi’s earlier experience as a producer includes work that has toured to venues and festivals throughout the UK, including the Old Vic, London, HOME, Liverpool Brouhaha Carnival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Remi was the Creative Producer for the performance company Remi Adam Productions developing a new piece YOU, US & THEM which was part of 2021’s HOME Manchester’s PUSH Festival programme. The piece blended movement, visual projection, rap, and an original composition. Remi was also the Lead Producer for the research and development of BRICKS for the Old Vic in 2020.
He studied Media Production at the University of Bolton.
Remi is an alumnus of Stage One as one of their bursary winners in 2018/2019. That year, Remi was a Jerwood Fellow at Manchester International Festival. He’s worked with award-winning artists and directors, including actors Idris Elba, Sinead Cusack, Michael Ward, and Alfred Enoch; theatre directors Kwame Kwei-Armah and Sarah Meadows; and the writer Emma Dennis-Edwards.
More information coming soon…
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.
Emmanuela joined CAN in 2019 as Assistant Producer for our Children and Young People’s programme. She was 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.
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.
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.
He worked 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 Film-making 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.
Since 2009, Shirlaine Forrest has worked as our Photographer documenting CAN’s projects and performances.
Over the years, Shirlaine has photographed everything – from small, intimate workshops with children and young people through to music events, theatre performances and large outdoor festivals like Horizons.
Besides her work with CAN, Shirlaine shoots for commercial and editorial clients including Getty Images, Female Perspective, O2 Apollo, Trafford Centre, music, event and PR photography for the international press. Shirlaine adores cats and photographs for the GCCF – the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. Working with CAN has introduced Shirlaine to many other arts organisations in the region including Afrocats, Brighter Sound, HOME and Storm in the North.
Seyed Ali Jaberi
Seyed Ali Jaberi
Seyed Ali Jaberi has worked with CAN as an artist since 2017. As an artist, he’s been part of many CAN projects, particularly within our Exodus programme, including Refugee Week in 2019, the Horizons Festivals, and Libraries of Sanctuary
Seyed Ali Jaberi and the Hamdel Ensemble performed a sell-out gig – one of the first Manchester gigs after the COVID lockdown – at Manchester Central Library in July 2021. This event celebrated Manchester Libraries becoming a Library of Sanctuary which welcomes people with refugee heritage to libraries.
Seyed was part of our Artist Development programme as Artist-In-Residence together with the Hamdel Ensemble in 2018 – 2019.
The residency developed a critically acclaimed national tour of All About Love, dates included the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which gave UK audiences a rare opportunity to experience Sufi music. Performances had significant Persian audiences.
Seyed took part in our DO IT digital training course which gave artists and community leaders digital skills.
Alongside his work with CAN, Seyed has worked with HOME and RNCM. His career as a musician includes collaborations with other world-famous Sufi artists including Mohammad Safaei, Sina Sarlak and Meghdad Shah Hosseini.
Sanja Govorcin has worked with CAN since 2020.
She works with our Kámoši Junior Performing Arts Group, our group for children from diverse communities, in Leigh (Wigan Borough), supporting the group to learn to play music and write songs.
Ana Lucía Cuevas
Ana Lucía Cuevas
Ana Lucía Cuevas was born and grew up in Guatemala.
She has collaborated with CAN since 2018 on projects including the performance Still I Rise at Manchester Art Gallery, the film screenings of The Echo of Pain of the Many and Home in a Foreign Land and the curation of the exhibition An Enduring Struggle for Justice at HOME.
She is the founder and co-director (with Fred Coker) of Armadillo Productions, a video production organization based in Manchester.
Ana Lucía has exhibited her paintings in Guatemala, Bulgaria, France, Costa Rica and the UK. As part of Comunica in Honduras and Armadillo Productions in the UK, she has directed and edited more than 20 documentaries including Hurricane Mitch – A Devastating Story, Paper Peace, This Country of Many Faces and The Echo of Pain of the Many.
As well as a painter and designer, Ana Lucía is a ceramicist and exhibits at the annual Ceramics Fair at The Hepworth Wakefield.
Ana Lucía has a MA in Combined Arts (Academy of Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria) and a MA in Computer Graphics and Film (Goldsmiths College, University of London).
She is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Bulgarian.
Jodie Ratcliffe joined CAN as a freelance Associate Producer in November 2021. CAN and Jodie first crossed paths between 2014-2019 when Jodie was part of the theatre production team at HOME
Most recently CAN has worked with Jodie through Manchester Independents, an initiative responding to the needs of independent artists across all art forms and all boroughs of Greater Manchester. Jodie is Project Manager.
Jodie produces work for Breaking Barriers with Parvez Qadir, in Rochdale. Projects include Stories We Tell, an outdoor, site-specific, waking piece that uncovers the stories of the people who call Rochdale home, Crossing the Line, a performance around child criminal exploitation that has toured to 15 schools, and a Young Producers Scheme.
Jodie is a trustee of The Untold Orchestra, the Hulme-based organisation which aims to provide an orchestral experience for every single person in Greater Manchester at least once in their lifetime. She has developed, programmed, and led workshops and creative activities for women in the communities of Hulme, Moss Side and Cheetham Hill.
One of her most recent achievements was producing the Ripples of Hope Festival celebrating the power of people to make human rights a reality for all. Jodie will be working with GM Systems Changers to ensure the people of Greater Manchester can all live with dignity in supportive communities.
When Jodie’s not juggling different creative projects, she can be found practicing or teaching yoga classes or sipping a big mug of tea. This commitment to well-being underpins all her work. Jodie has curated wellbeing days at HOME and for The Untold Orchestra. Throughout her work, Jodie aims to raise the profile of wellbeing in the arts.
Rahela Khan is an artist who works in various art forms, including painting, printmaking, and ceramics. As a community artist, she works with communities to explore diversity and identity and around female Muslim identity in diaspora communities
She is a member of the Studio Art Group at Littleborough’s Ebor Studios and exhibited at Gallery Frank there. Rahela was part of the studio’s online exhibition From The Edge during lockdown, featured on Rochdale’s Touchstones website.
Rahela participated in the Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Cammock’s Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks and collaborated with Jasleen Kaur for Gut Feelings, Meri Jaan for their respective exhibitions at Touchstones, Rochdale, across 2021 and 2022.
Working with Action Together, she was part of its Radical Kindness project celebrating the everyday kindness of people and mutual aid groups during the pandemic. The project featured a public artwork in the centre of Rochdale. She has worked with Cartwheel Arts on its Deeplish Women’s Art for Wellbeing project.
She is studying for a PhD exploring Women in Art Creativity and Islam at the University of Salford.
Valeriia Lukianets joined CAN in November 2022 after working extensively as an actress in Ukraine. She came to the UK in 2022.
Valeriia quickly involved herself in the Greater Manchester and UK arts scene. She was a dance artist in 2022’s Manchester Day Parade.
Valeriia’s involvement with CAN includes being an artist in the Pushing Boundaries project, which is building the capacity of migrant artists, including those who have experienced forced migration, to work as facilitators in arts education in primary and secondary schools.
Since December 2022, Valeriia has been part of the team facilitating the Sparks of Freedom project with CAN’s Young Artists Sparks of Freedom.
She is a participant in RADA’s Spoken English course for actors for whom English is an additional language. Valeriia has also produced, directed, and presented Ukrainian-language videos for Citizens Advice to support Ukrainian refugees in the UK.
mandla was Assistant Creative Producer in the Horizons 2023 festival team, where mandla worked on the artistic programme. mandla was based at HOME, our delivery partner for Horizons.
mandla is a Zimbabwean-born writer, performer, and curator. mandla’s work often draws on the artist’s intersectional existence.
Using words as a medium, mandla communicates the many sensations associated with being a person using themes ranging from conversations about race, ‘decolonisation’, diaspora, trauma, mental illness, Queer/Gender identity and expression.
mandla works in various mediums, including poetry, film, audio, theatre, and cabaret. mandla’s first solo show, as british as a watermelon, toured with support from Arts Council England and was part of the Edinburgh Festival in 2022.
mandla was a MIF23 Fellow.
mandla uses names in place of English pronouns because Mandla is agender and gendered pronouns do not exist in Mandla’s first language, isiNdebele.
Masresha Wondmu was part of the CAN/HOME Horizons 2023 team as Assistant Creative Producer for the festival’s community programme in June 2023. He was part of the team for our partnership project with Manchester Libraries. The partnership delivered family-friendly arts workshops in Beswick, Wythenshawe and Longsight libraries in 2021.
Masresha completed CAN and Curious Minds, Pushing Boundaries arts facilitation training in 2023, which supported artists to build their skills and knowledge to grow their work in primary and secondary schools delivering creative workshops.
Originally from Ethiopia, Masresha is a dancer, choreographer, circus artist and the director of a multi-media arts company.
With over 20 years of experience in the arts, Maresha has continued his creative work in the UK, where he’s worked as a circus facilitator and dancer for Spare Parts at summer festivals. He works with the community circus company, Circus House as a freelance performer and trainer across Greater Manchester, Cheshire, and Lancashire. His circus skills have seen him work with Vietnam State Circus. Masresha has worked as a gymnastics coach in primary schools in Manchester and Stockport and works for Junior Sport Stars Coaching.
He works with Music International International delivering creative sessions with refugees and asylum seekers at Salford and Manchester.