One of the joys of working on the project has been meeting young people, their parents and teachers in schools and at skills shows. We thought you might like to know who we are too, so here’s the lowdown on the creatives who are Team Curiosity…
Company Director and Project Leader, Manda Graham has been working in the arts as a producer, fundraiser and, most recently, a coach for 21 years. About 50% of Manda’s work is supporting other creatives and arts organisations through her company, Creative Spark. The other 50% is made up of her own projects delivered in collaboration with teams of brilliant creatives, through Equal Vision CIC, which Manda runs with the support of Bryony Croft and two other board members.
Manda loves instigating collaborative creative projects that solve social problems and change lives. She’s also really interested in how creative people are viewed, “I think creative thinkers should be seen in the same way as scientists. I believe that creative people hold the answers to some of the world’s biggest problems, but can deliver them in engaging, beautiful and unexpected ways.”
Project Facilitator, Bryony Croft has many skills and talents in the working world, including her business that supports personal development, Essential Self Ltd. She’s been a bookkeeper and finance manager for small businesses since 2006, which is how she met Manda… when they were both working at Meadow Arts. Since then, Bryony has been invited to be on the Board of Equal Vision CIC as well as doing the bookkeeping… and is now very much involved in the development of the Curiosity Museum!
“The Curiosity Museum very much plays to my strengths (and definitely my passions!) which are coaching, teaching and facilitation. I love a bit of empowerment.”
Digital Designer, Graham Bennett has been working in the digital realm for over twenty years, building websites, games, e-learning, apps and all kinds of digital content and experiences. Graham works as a freelancer, and a few years ago he founded a digital agency, Extra Strong, specialising in the Arts and Culture sector.
Graham describes himself as an, “Artist and problem-solver. Maker of whizzy things. Nurturer of ideas.” When we heard this, we knew he was the perfect digital designer for the Curiosity Museum Online!
Graham is an artist and musician in his spare time too.
Curiosity Museum Live Workshop Leader, Kate Cox is a freelance producer, curator, writer and performer, working mostly in events, especially festivals and outdoor projects. Kate loves working with people, creating immersive and playful experiences to break barriers and, “Just not taking life too seriously!”
Kate is Director of live arts and events venture, Clik Clik Collective and the Co-Creator/Director of the Cabinet of Lost Secrets, a unique live performance venue based at Nozstock, a festival of music and arts. She’s also part of the regular Nozstock team and is Arts Editor for Slap Mag.
Curiosity Museum Live Workshop Leader, Sarah Edwards has a background in theatre, visual arts and installation. She’s fascinated by the way people interact with their surroundings, “We are all born with natural curiosity and artwork should bring this out in us. I love working on collaborative art pieces in schools and community settings. This idea of working together gives a sense of achievement, unity and can have amazing outcomes.”
Sarah has recently completed two commissions for the National Trust, one of which supported the tapestries of Grayson Perry and his exploration of masculinity – challenging people’s perception of art, society, history and culture. She’s worked as a creative practitioner for the last 12 years, winning ‘The Big Draw’ international drawing competition in 2018 for work in a primary school. Over the summer months, Sarah works nationwide, facilitating creative spaces and arts marquees for festivals and events under the name ‘Spare Room Arts’ – striving to deliver a creative connection anywhere!
Marketing Manager, Rebecca Farkas works in arts marketing for visual arts organisation Meadow Arts and on freelance projects. She also has experience in project management and evaluation, as well as being a visual artist. “I make photographs, videos and installations and I’m testing out some animations at the moment.”
Rebecca believes that the arts are for everyone and works hard to make sure that projects she’s involved with are accessible to people with different backgrounds and needs. She grew up on travelling circuses and has done everything from performing in the show to selling hotdogs, operating the spotlight, handling press calls and box office ticket sales.
Graphic Designer, Brendan Stephens has been designing for over twenty years – he’s been freelance for the last ten of those, undertaking lots of arts-related work for theatres, live events, clubs and festivals. In graphic design, he likes to, “walk the line between creative and functional.”
Brendan used to run Never Mind the Bullocks live music gigs and weekenders (a not-for-profit project with charity fundraising) in and around Hereford, doing 150+ gigs over the years. Brendan volunteers as a photographer at local live music events, Nozstock and Worcester Music Festival, plus others. He also donates design time to a local gaming community that raises money for Herefordshire MIND.
Communications Consultant, Caroline Durbin is a specialist in education and cultural communications. She has worked in-house with high profile arts organisations including Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Arts Connect and Birmingham Museums. Also, Caroline has provided consultancy services to numerous regional and national organisations including Flatpack Film Festival, Festival of Imagineers, Museums Worcestershire and the Ruskin Mill Trust.
Caroline is interested in celebrating great culture and improving collaborations and partnerships to help organisations to shine. Ever since she worked for a work experience charity in the early 2000s, Caroline has been a keen advocate for careers training. “Young people should be supported in helping them to recognise and build on their personal strengths. What is successful for one individual is not the same for all – young people should be given the tools so that they can decide what they might aim for in life.”
Education Specialist, Diana Hawkins is fresh out of the classroom and onto Team Curiosity, having taught for 23 years in secondary schools as a science and Physics teacher.
She puts it best herself, “I am looking for new and interesting challenges and ways to apply the multitude of skills I have gained from being at the mercy of teenagers whilst trying to excite and engage them with their studies! The Curiosity Museum is my first gig as a freelancer and I have really enjoyed the diversity of ideas and contributions from the team. It is an extraordinary project and I am very excited to be involved with it. I have a keen interest in encouraging students to look at the wide variety of careers available, particularly in the STEM areas, and I’ve always promoted gender equality in these roles. This has led to some memorable occasions – including taking a group of students to be interviewed live on the Radio 4 ‘Today’ program by the one and only John Humphries, visiting the beating heart of GCHQ itself and also managing to borrow a very expensive top of the range Aston Martin for educational purposes.”
Diana’s creative approach to teaching is a huge bonus for the Curiosity Museum and her years of experience means that she gives a vital input to the project, ensuring that it will give pupils and teachers the experience they need.
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