Mary Allen (Chair)

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Mary Allen

Mary Allen was Secretary-General of the Arts Council from 1994 to 1997, and then spent seven months as Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, during one of the most controversial periods in its history, saving the organisation from bankruptcy. She published A House Divided, an account of her time there, which was serialised in The Times.

Mary has worked for most of her professional life in the arts. She began her career as an actor, then worked for a multi-national oil company, setting up one of Britain’s first arts sponsorship programmes. She has served on a number of boards and committees, including Cheek by Jowl, Dance Umbrella and Rambert Dance, and was the Chairman of the Public Art Development Trust. She wrote the definitive reference work on raising business sponsorship, and a book for the Economist Publications Sponsoring the Arts: New Business Strategies for the 1990s. In the early 1990s she was director of Watermans Arts Centre, during which time she introduced a series of literary talks presented by John Walsh.

Nina Caplan

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Nina is an award-winning arts, food and drink, travel and lifestyle journalist and former Chief Editor at Save the Children, where she helped devise print and digital strategy and oversaw the commissioning, writing and editing of key content. She has been Features Editor of Time Out and Directories Editor at The Guardian; more recently she was Editor of Metropolitan, the trilingual Eurostar magazine. Since 2011, she has been the wine columnist of the New Statesman.

Bea Colley

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Bea Colley works as a Participation Producer for Literature and Spoken Word in the Festival Programming team at Southbank Centre, London. She has been developing Southbank Centre’s relationships with refugee communities over the last 6 years and works across artform on festival programmes. Bea was one of the lead producers of Poetry Parnassus, the largest international poetry festival to ever take place in the UK.

Vanessa Gebbie

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Clare Christian

Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist, poet, short fiction writer, editor, and writing teacher. Her words have won awards from Bridport and The Daily Telegraph (prose), The Troubadour Prize and The Sussex Prize (poetry) and The Paddon Award (non-fiction) among others. 

She is author of The Coward’s Tale (novel, Bloomsbury), Words from a Glass Bubble and Storm Warning (short fictions, Salt), The Half-life of Fathers and Memorandum (poetry, Pighog Press and Cultured Llama Books), and Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures (illustrated flash fictions, Liquorice Fish Books). She is also contributing editor of Short Circuit: Guide to the Art of the Short Story (text book, Salt). 

Forthcoming are a third short story collection entitled A Short History of Synchronised Breathing (Cultured Llama 2017) and a chapbook of irreal flash fictions (Flash: The International Short Short Story Press, Chester University 2017. 

She was a 2012 Hawthornden Fellow and a 2013 Gladstone’s Library Writer in Residence. Her work has also been supported by grants from the Arts Council England.

Christine Harmar-Brown

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Christine Harmar Brown

Christine Harmar-Brown’s TV and theatre credits include a number of issue-based plays for young people, the four-part TV drama Inside Out and two episodes of Supply and Demand15 Minutes (developed as part of the National Theatre Studio scheme), and several Shakespeare abridgements. She has previously worked as a director of new writing with the Royal Court Young Peoples' Theatre. She spent three years in TV as a BBC Script Editor and as Head of Development for La Plante Productions before becoming a freelance writer. 

Christine co-founded B&R Productions Ltd in 1998, with Ian Ross, originally to produce new writing and revivals of contemporary classics. Latterly the company has undertaken a number of arts consultancy projects, launched and developed the award winning School Creative Centre as a studio facility and creative industries hub across the visual and performing arts spectrum and continues to work on projects in Kent and East Sussex. 

Simon Richardson

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Simon Richardson

Simon is an Assistant Producer of books programmes on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service. He joined the BBC as a Talent Scout for BBC Writersroom North before later working in BBC Radio Drama and now produces programmes about books, from Book at Bedtime and Book of the Week, to interviewing writers for Radio 4’s Open Book programme. He has a particular interest in new prose writing and whilst at the BBC has commissioned new work from authors including Teju Cole, Marina Lewycka, Michael Rosen, Niven Govinden, M J Hyland and Chibundu Onuzo, and directed readings of this work by actors including Martin Freeman, Riz Ahmed, David Suchet, Maxine Peake, Tom Courtenay and Juliet Stevenson.

Before working at the BBC he was the manager of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the David Cohen Prize for Literature. Prior to moving to London he worked at Manchester University's Centre for New Writing programming writer events and launching its creative writing journal The Manchester Review, and as an event manager for Manchester Literature Festival. He is a former trustee of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament.

Bella Todd

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Bella is a Brighton-based arts journalist and workshop leader. She writes about theatre, music and the arts in general for publications including The Guardian, Time Out and The Stage, and wrote the guidebook Time Out Brighton Shortlist. She has worked as staff writer at Time Out, editor of what’s on magazine Latest 7 and entertainments editor of The Argus since winning the National Student Journalism Award for arts writing. Bella gives talks and workshops about aspects of arts criticism and journalism, and guest lectures in journalism at BHASVIC and University of Brighton. She works closely with arts organisations committed to diversity such as Disability Arts Online, Creative Minds and Gig Buddies, and has a particular interest in introducing new voices to arts criticism. She is also a trainee psychodynamic counsellor.

Rob Warr

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Rob is an award-winning TV and film executive producer. Credits include Casualty, the BAFTA winning Dunkirk, the Grammy winning Peter Gabriel's Secret World and the feature film Let Him Have It. He has a particular expertise in talent management, gained in the music industry and at the BBC. Rob started his career in the music industry, managing bands such as Gang of
Four, ABC, The Human League and Scritti Politti. Switching to film and TV he produced Let Him have It in 1991 and then joined PMI, the TV and video division of EMI Records as Creative Director. From 1999-2004 Rob oversaw the BBC's talent management division before producing Dunkirk and Casualty for the BBC. Recently, he had been developing TV and feature film projects in the UK and US and working with Griff Rhys Jones and Modern TV as Executive Producer.