Darren Henley is Chief Executive of the Arts Council.

He previously spent twenty-five years working in radio, leading Classic FM for fifteen years, first as Managing Editor and then as Managing Director. He was appointed an OBE in 2013 for services to music. Darren has chaired or sat on a range of government advisory boards in the area of cultural education. His two independent government reviews into music education (2011) and cultural education (2012) resulted in the creation of England’s first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the Museums and Schools programme, the BFI Film Academy and the National Youth Dance Company.

He is the author or co-author of thirty books, including The Virtuous Circle: Why Creativity and Cultural Education Count. It argues that an excellent cultural education is the right of everyone, bringing personal, social and commercial advantages that can only benefit the lives of all individuals in our society. In 2016, Darren’s most recent book was published. The Arts Dividend: Why Investment in Culture Pays looks in depth at seven key benefits that art and culture bring to our lives.


Freï von Fräähsen zu Lorenzburg is an artist, choreographer, and writer.

Freï is a choreographer, performance artist and writer currently based in Gothenburg Sweden. He has a BA from Trinity Laban conservatoire of Music and Dance (London) and a MA Contemporary Performative Arts from Gothenburg Academy of music and drama. In his own practice, as a writer and performer, he deals with questions of liminality, taboo, sacrifice and usurpation. Freï is passionate about the idea that an individual has to claim humanhood for themselves in a series of performative gestures. In this sense human life, and all its activities, takes on a ritual/ mythic dimension wherein one creates oneself as a sovereign subject through knowledge and deep inquiry into oneself and one’s environment. Artistic practices become a means, not merely of representing or mirroring oneself and the world, but of creating oneself and one’s world. Thus every act of art is a declaration of independence. On December 1 2014 Freï initiated the process to declare independent the city sector where he grew up. He has been known as His Serene Highness Prince Freï of Lorenzburg ever since.


Marice Cumber is Founder and Director of Accumulate.

Marice Cumber is the founder and director of Accumulate, a charity that enables young people, affected by homelessness and living in temporary accommodation and hostels, to fulfil their social, cultural and personal potential through participation in creative workshops and activities. Accumulate works in collaboration with Ravensbourne, a specialist HEI for the creative industries, and also fundraises to provide scholarships so that it’s participants can continue their creative education at Ravensbourne.

Previous to Accumulate Marice set up and ran business courses, enterprise support and intellectual property advice services for creative students and practitioners.


Natalie McGrath is a playwright and Co-Director of Dreadnought South West.

Dreadnought is an arts and heritage organisation based in Exeter that tells and champions great stories about women and girls across the region.  Celebrating their voices through professional touring theatre and a wide range of accessible socially engaged community projects. Dreadnought’s current projects include touring a new play The Cause – An Overture of Rebellion & Revolt, and the Rebellious Sounds Archive, which is the first mobile touring community archive of women’s stories of activism.  Natalie has written Oxygen and The Cause for Dreadnought.


As a playwright Natalie has had her work produced and performed at a wide range of venues including Bristol Old Vic, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter Northcott, Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter, Taunton Brewhouse Theatre, Hall for Cornwall, the Orange Tree in Richmond, by Theatre West in Bristol, Carlton Theatre, Teignmouth, Yelde Hall, Chippenham, Theatre 503 to name a few.


Tom Marshman is an artist and performance-maker.

Tom Marshman has been a practicing artist for almost twenty years. His works encompass performance, installation, film and photography. He is interested in uncovering personal stories and sited historical narratives. 

A lot of his work  explores these themes through an LGBTQ prism. As an artist from the LGBTQ community he is interested in queer stories – platforming often hidden narratives.

Working with museums, Tom aims to mix fact and fiction, communicating that these objects and places are open to re-interpretation. His approach is respectful of site, but playful about re-representing a very fixed true embodiment of what happened there.

A recent project, ‘Hot Dates from the Past’ at the Red Lodge in Bristol and National Portrait Gallery in London, demonstrates this approach. Tom uploaded historical portraits as profiles on an online dating site such as Tinder or Grindr. The resulting performance was accessible and irreverent, whilst engaging with difficult themes of sex and death.  


Patrick Fox is director of Heart of Glass, an agency for collaborative and social arts practice.

Patrick is former director of Create, Ireland’s national development agency for Collaborative Arts. He is a producer, commissioner and senior arts leader who supports artists to engage with communities of place/ interest to create contemporary work that reflects the politics of our times. He is a founder of Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme, a four-year programme of transnational work focusing on models of social arts practice across Europe. He is interested in expanding critical discourse and supporting the development of policy and infrastructure around collaborative arts. He was also the former head of collaborations and engagement at FACT Liverpool, leading the acclaimed arts and older people project tenantspin as part of his portfolio.


Rommi Smith is a poet and playwright.

Rommi Smith is an international writer who has held prestigious residencies for institutions ranging from the British Council to the BBC. Smith is the inaugural British Parliamentary Writer in Residence and inaugural Poet in Residence for Keats’ House. John Barnard Scholar at the University of Leeds, she is also a Visiting Scholar at City University New York (CUNY). Smith has presented original work at the Segal Theatre, New York and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Her academic writing is due for publication by Columbia University Press in 2019.   www.rommi-smith.co.uk


Sinead Dowling and  Michael Fortune will be talking Identity and Placemaking in light of their work for Take A Part in Carlow, Ireland

Sinead is the Arts Officer of Carlow County Council, Ireland and initiator of Take A Part Carlow.  Sinead is a Board Director of Create, Ireland’s National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts.  She holds a HDIP in Community Arts Education,  Masters in Fine Art Sculpture and Masters in Socially Engaged Arts Practice.  She led on the commissioning and development of the Visualise Carlow programme that saw three temporary public art projects a year in Carlow in the lead up to VISUAL the Centre for Contemporary Art.  She has managed public art commissions, site specific and temporary arts interventions.  She was a founding member of the first African Film Festival in Ireland. She is also an artist herself who was commissioned through a public art programme in Dublin called Breaking Ground that engaged directly with local communities.


Michael Fortune is many things to many people. Some people know him as an artist and filmmaker, more as an educator, more as a collector of folklore and more as a lover of traditional song. In an age where we are every more defined and bracketed by our profession, it is the lack of any clear bracketing of his practice which Michael takes great delight in. Michael has cut many furrows with his work over the past twenty years and his practice has widened the conversation regarding the intersection of traditional and contemporary cultures in Ireland. He has a general appreciation and understanding of culture in all its manifestations, especially in the area of folklore, the ordinary and the everyday. His life, interests and practice are an intertwined and inseparable mix of the ancient, contemporary, private, public and intangible.

Davis & Jones make artworks through occasions, dialogues and relationships; working with people and places to explore how we connect.

A collaboration between Deborah Aguirre Jones and Eleanor Davis, Davis & Jones are socially engaged artists who interact with and gently interrupt the social and physical contexts they find themselves in.


They create and run with situations that are at the same time familiar and surprising, often connecting with systems and professions such as the justice system, housing, healthcare and social enterprise.


On bridges, beaches and housing estates, in building sites, prisons and hospitals, Davis & Jones make art with people and relationships.


Current themes and interests include psychoanalysis in conflict resolution and artworking outside any art world.