Pick of the Month - August 2022

1 August 2022 | By Faye Edwards

In our Pick of the Month for August, we spoke to the Chief Executive of a charity promoting and celebrating disability through arts, culture and education and the Founder of a Community Interest Company, facilitating the smooth transition of young neurodiverse people from one life stage to the next. We also spoke to one of Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy’s 2021 Senior Fundraising Fellows, and a Trustee for a charity delighting children with imaginative and meaningful theatre.


Charity Leader of the Month – Paul Darke, Outside Centre

Dr Paul Darke is the Chief Executive of Outside Centre, a charity promoting and celebrating disability and disabled people through arts, culture and education.

“Outside Centre’s mission is to create lasting and deep connections with audiences, creators, and organisations in order to change how disabled people, and their value, is created; is viewed; is experienced and utilised - ensuring a significant impact and legacy. We work with museums, art galleries, education establishments and, most importantly, always with disabled creatives. At Outside Centre, we are proud to work to the social model of disability - which is antithetical to both the ‘medical' and ‘charity’ models; models which focus on impairment rather than the social processes, social construction of disablement.”


Speaking on his journey to becoming CEO at Outside Centre, Paul said:

“I became the CEO in 2007 when we registered as a charity; prior to that we had been a loose coalition of three disabled artists. Upon formalising the organisation, one took on certain roles: mine was CEO as I think I had the newest computer and a good internet connection at the time! We have always focused on doing work that is about creating change with disabled creatives in mainstream arts and culture. Being the leader, it is always important to ensure that we do things we enjoy. Life is too short to spend too much time on processes and practices that are not in any way enjoyable. Often, we forget this basic tenet of life.”


Paul offered his advice to prospective CEOs:

“Patience is truly a virtue in every respect in running a very small organisation. Everything takes time: from getting email replies to finding out the result of funding applications. Charity is almost always a business in the sense that it is competitive: we have competitors like any business, yes, even in disability! It can be tough but, thanks to Heritage Compass in particular, our edge, or USP, is becoming clearer to us and for those in the field we work. Quality and professionalism are our watch words, and we believe that will sustain us. Though ironically, we would consider the ultimate success would be a see a society that does not need us to exist!”


On his hopes for change in the sector, Paul said:

“Ideally, we want to see the sector change, society change, to a degree that we can fold as an organisation as that would mean we, with others, will have changed the sector so much that disabled people, disabled creatives, are an elementary essential part of the sector as a matter of course. As this will not happen anytime soon, sadly, we are passionate about doing as much as we can to bring that eventuality one step closer each day.”


Keep up to date with what’s going on at Outside Centre on Twitter at @DigiDisability and see more from Dr Darke at @drpauldarke


Social Entrepreneur of the Month – Navedia Young, Neurodiversity Learning CIC 

Navedia Young is the Director and Founder of Neurodiversity Learning, a Community Interest Company based in London that aims to facilitate the smooth transition of young people who are neurodiverse from one life stage to the next. At Neurodiversity Learning, Navedia aims to empower others by giving them a toolbox of relaxation techniques, from mindfulness to visual arts, to be better equipped to combat the negative consequences of stress. Her work can be applied to a variety of different contexts, for example, harmony in the classroom, workplace etiquette or effectively accessing support services.

Navedia told us about her recent work at Neurodiversity Learning: 

“We run arts and crafts sessions for children and adults across Lambeth and South London. We are SEN specialists and we tailor our sessions to those with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and Anxiety. We are championing the idea that creativity can have a huge positive impact on life, whether on the neurodivergent spectrum or not. Recently, I have been supporting a Kick Start intern, Helena Dubois, who has positively contributed her creativity and general skills to Neurodiversity over the last six months.”


On how the pandemic impacted her work, Navedia said:

“We crowd-funded to support the distribution of free Covid-19 arts and crafts packs to encourage young neurodiverse children to benefit from creativity without the barrier of cost. We also learned to pivot our activities, delivering sessions online rather than in school, such as our sessions that focused on supporting families on their children’s transition back to school after lockdown. I focused my energy on creating new resources and collaborations, such as our collaboration with A2ndVoice.” 


Navedia also told us about an upcoming project at Neurodiversity Learning: 

“Through the Lambeth Wellbeing Fund and thanks to funding via the nurture organisation Longfield Hall Trust and a fellow grantee, I am now project managing the delivery of taster workshops for local communities in Loughborough on DIY, sewing, interior design, and more. Neurodiversity Learning will lead the creche facilities for this project, supporting children aged between two and four, while their parent attends the DIY course.”


Finally, we asked Navedia what advice she would give to someone starting out in this sector: 

“Enjoy the journey - the curves are character-building! - and be open to unexpected opportunities.” 


Hear more about Navedia’s work at Neurodiversity Learning on Twitter at @CicLearning


Trustee of the Month – Nick Stevenson, Tutti Frutti Productions

Nick Stevenson is a Trustee on the Board for Tutti Frutti Productions, an arts organisation and touring theatre company based in Leeds with mission to delight children with imaginative and meaningful theatre.

Nick told us about why he chose to become a Trustee: 

“I've been a Trustee since January 2020, so just before the pandemic. Tutti Frutti felt a great fit for me as a theatre company making high quality work for families and young people. At the time I was the Associate Producer at Theatr Clwyd in north Wales and programmed their family work, so I was able to bring my experience of programming and producing theatre to the team.”


Speaking on his experience of being a Trustee, Nick said: 

“I've loved my time with Tutti Frutti so far! I'm fortunate to be a Trustee of a company which has a brilliant staff team and is incredibly well run. The team continues to explore new ways of working and excel in making unforgettable experiences for children and young people in Leeds, across the country, and internationally. The board of Trustees has a range of experiences and expertise, so it's also been a great learning experience for me personally. The skills I develop through being a Trustee I hope to be able to share with other organisations too in the future.”


Finally, we asked Nick what advice he would give to someone considering becoming a Trustee: 

“I think my biggest piece of advice would be to ask yourself ‘why'? Why do you want to become a Trustee? Why this organisation? That's a question which should probably continue to be asked every so often! The reason will likely be different for everyone, but I think the main reasons should be because you enjoy it and because you want to give your time to something you care about.”


Keep up to date with the work of Tutti Frutti Productions and its newest shows on Twitter at @tuttifruttiprod


Fellow of the Month – Rosa Corbishley, Bristol Beacon

Rosa Corbishley is Development Director at Bristol Beacon, a music charity, renowned venue and award-winning music education hub.

Bristol Beacon shares the unity and joy of live music through an artistic programme of music performance which now includes over 200 gigs and concerts annually in over 35 partner venues across Bristol and Bath. As the city’s music hub, it runs a programme of creative learning reaching over 30,000 young people every year from Beacon Music Centre in Southmead and across Bristol’s schools.

Rosa has previously worked in senior leadership roles as a fundraiser and marketeer at a number of significant cultural organisations including Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Salisbury Festival, Arts About Manchester (now The Audience Agency), Royal Northern Collage of Music, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and others. Rosa summarised her current role at Bristol Beacon: 

“I have been at Bristol Beacon for 10 years now, leading the fundraising function of the organisation and driving the organisation towards its net zero ambitions. I have been incredibly lucky to have worked on the largest arts capital project ever in the southwest and been part of an extraordinary organisational transformation here.”


Given the context of the UK right now, Rosa told us about the opportunities for the organisation at this time:

“We feel very excited about all sorts of things: we have had great success in recent years working with strategic grant making trusts on expanding and developing our creative and learning work. As we plan to reopen our venue in 2023 with expanded performance capacity, superlative acoustic, comfort and the highest levels of accessibility we are looking forward to reengaging with individuals around our artistic programme.”


As an Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Senior Fundraising Fellow in 2021, Rosa spoke on how the Fundraising Fellowship Programme supported her and the organisation in its work:

“The Fellowship was an invaluable opportunity to ensure I took time to step away from the day to day. I met with leaders from across the UK and we shared our experiences. It forced me to take more time to think and read at a strategic level and to consider my role and my future developments.”


Finally, on her hopes for change in the sector, Rosa said:

“I think the Fellowship solidified my thinking about purpose and its role in cultural organisations. A clear and passionately expressed purpose is good for the whole organisation because it allows every member of staff to feel and communicate that purpose, yes for the benefit of fundraising, but also for staff culture, marketing and especially for the artistic product itself. So, I’d like to see more organisations make time to really understand why they exist.”


Stay up to date with Rosa’s work at Bristol Beacon on Twitter at @Bristol_Beacon

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