We’ve set up a charity to present Brent 2020 – and to support culture, creativity and the arts in years to come.
Brent 2020 is a collective endeavour – not just presented for the people of Brent but created with their support. To help deliver it, we’ve launched Metroland Cultures, a new charity that will give a voice to as many people across the borough as possible.
Metroland Cultures has two key missions: to produce and present the Brent 2020 programme, and to support culture, creativity and youth development in Brent now and in the future.
Everything Metroland Cultures does begins with the people of Brent. Take our pioneering Engagement Boards, for example, which bring together local residents with national partners to guide every aspect of our work. This includes the Metroland Cultures Fund, which we set up in April 2020 to provide financial support to 25 Brent artists and creatives during lockdown.
Metroland Cultures’ work won’t end with Brent 2020. Starting next year, our charity will support four new artistic commissions in Brent every year: one of which will be commissioned with the London Borough of Brent, and at least one of which will be led by young people. And not only will we continue to deliver our support programmes for young people, artists, community advisors and teachers – we’ll extend them beyond Brent’s borders and further into Metroland.
Metroland Cultures is a new charity for a new generation in the arts and in Brent. Stay tuned – there’s much more to come.
HEAD OF HERITAGE AT WILLESDEN JEWISH CEMETERY
Hester Abrams worked as a journalist, literary festival director and TV drama researcher before setting out to create a new public heritage experience at Willesden Jewish Cemetery. She has led work of staff, consultants and volunteers in delivering the House of Life at the Victorian cemetery, as well as fund-raising, marketing and advocacy. As curator, she has uncovered most of the research into the cemetery and written new permanent displays, developed guided walks and produced events and exhibitions.
In past working lives Hester was a Reuters correspondent and magazine editor in Vienna and London, and Director of Jewish Book Week.
BLUEPRINT COLLECTIVE MEMBER
Zeyn is a Brent resident and Blueprint Collective member. He is passionate about changing the perception of and narratives around young people in the borough, and bringing the community together.
STUDENT & BLUEPRINT COLLECTIVE MEMBER
21 year old Ismael has lived in Brent for 17 years, and has been part of the Blueprint Collective since June 2018. He attended school in Brent until he landed a place on the aerospace engineering course at the University of Surrey. Ismael feels strongly about giving young people in the borough a voice, and sat on the engagement board for the Seen and Heard project.
CURATOR, WRITER & ART HISTORIAN
Rachel Dedman is a Brent-based curator, writer, and art historian. Born, raised and still living in Brent today, Rachel is passionate about the borough, its histories and people. She holds a first class degree in the History of Art from St John's College, Oxford, and was the Von Clemm Fellow at Harvard University. Her work examines the material and political lives of things, and challenges established narratives around cultural production in the Middle East. Rachel is the Jameel Curator of Contemporary Art from the Middle East at the V&A, London, where she is curating Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics in 2021.
From 2013-2019, Rachel was based in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ramallah, Palestine, where she curated projects across the Middle East and Europe. She is co-founder and editor of polycephaly.net, and one third of Radio Earth Hold, a research and broadcast collective working on notions of transnational solidarity through the sonic. Her writing is published by Ibraaz, Spike, e-flux, MacGuffin, La belle revue, and REORIENT, among others.
CULTURAL ARTS CONSULTANT & CEO, MINDSPRAY
Errol is a pioneer of UK graffiti art and qualified creative wellbeing practitioner. He is also the CEO of Mindspray, a creative platform connecting globally to celebrate the art of cultural storytelling. In celebrating creative approaches to health and wellbeing, Mindspray aims to unite and inspire the next generation of creative leaders to create new approaches to mental health and emotional wellbeing. With a unique blend of experiences that include everything from brand strategy and cultural heritage, to leadership coaching, Errol advises clients on the planning of initiatives that meet at the intersection of arts, culture and healthcare.
DIRECTOR, FLINT PUBLIC RELATIONS LTD
Digby is an award-winning communications professional whose promotional experience spans public relations, marketing and publishing. At the Paris-based advertising agency Iceberg-Bozell he developed pan-European advertising campaigns for market-leading consumer brands. In agency and in-house roles within the publishing sector he developed the brands of breakthrough literary talents, media managed leading literary awards and publishing events and directed promotional campaigns for internationally bestselling authors, thought-leaders and cultural figures. In 2009 Digby co-founded Flint Culture, a specialist cultural consultancy that has gone on to provide cultural advisory and communications services to brands, businesses and organisations ranging from the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the British Library, Christie’s and the London Art Fair, to BT, Time Out and the National Trust. Based in London and working across Flint’s international offices, Digby offers expertise in brand management, audience engagement, business development and corporate, consumer and cultural partnerships.
CABINET MEMBER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH, CULTURE & LEISURE, BRENT COUNCIL
CLLR KRUPESH HIRANI
Krupesh graduated with a Politics degree from the University of Nottingham in 2007 and has developed strong hands-on experience in the political sector, working for Barry Gardiner MP in the House of Commons and being on the Parliament and Government Programme at the Hansard Society. He then went on to work as a Policy and Business Development Officer for a new public affairs think tank and was mentored through the Operation Black Vote shadowing scheme by the Rt Hon David Lammy MP. In 2008 he was awarded with a Youth Gold Achievement Award during his tenure at the British Youth Council. He stood as a Labour Party candidate in the 2010 local elections and was elected as Councillor to the London Borough of Brent, representing Dudden Hill Ward. In 2012, he joined the Council’s leading Executive Group after becoming the Lead Member for Adults and Health, making him the youngest person in the country to hold this portfolio. He is the current Cabinet member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing at the London Borough of Brent. He works part-time for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR AT FRIEZE
Matt is Commercial Director at Frieze, and has a track record of driving commercial strategy in the arts and media. In his current role, he has been involved in developing major global cultural initiatives, including the launch of Frieze Los Angeles. He established Frieze Studios, Frieze's in-house creative agency, set up to deliver commercial projects that engage and support the creative community. Most recently he rolled out Frieze’s first ever membership programme, alongside a full creative rebrand.
He previously spent four years as Head of Corporate Development at Southbank Centre, prior to which he worked within various roles at Sky. He is a Non-Executive Board member of Everyday Plastic, a Community Interest Company that provides the public with a personal connection to the plastic problem.
ARTIST & WRITER
Tom is an artist and writer, based in London, England, soon-to-be-former UK, has been living in and around Kilburn for five years, and is a current resident of Metroland Studios. He creates DIY projects and publications that aim to help people imagine new structures and new ways of living. His work spans live installation, instructional workshops and self-published fanzines. For the last five years, this work has been mainly concerned with how to survive in, and think about, the bitter world we’re creating for our children.
Tom is currently working on Absolute Beginners, a new factory for Park Royal Industrial Estate, where young people can learn how to produce the basic goods that we’ll need in the uncertain economies of our future. Recent work includes The Clearing, a collaboration with Alex Hartley to create an inhabited vision of the future in the grounds of Compton Verney Art Gallery; and King’s Cross Gas Workshop, in which he turned Arts Catalyst in King’s Cross into a temporary, off-grid gas works. Tom’s work has been featured across the British press, whilst his cult fanzine about Sheffield, GO, is part of the permanent collection of the V&A.
YOUTH WORKER & CREATIVE
SAVANNAH MULLINGS JOHNSON
Savannah is a youth worker, creative, blogger, professional writer and member of the Blueprint Collective who is set to embark on a new chapter when she begins teacher training later on in the year. She has lived in Kingsbury, Brent her whole life and considers her relationship with Brent as an unbreakable bond. She works in a local primary school as a learning mentor and is passionate about lifting up the younger generation. Savannah loves writing, collecting vinyls and Y2K fashion. You can often find her rewatching Gilmore Girls and playing VR.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, BRENT 2020, LONDON BOROUGH OF CULTURE
Lois is the Interim Artistic & Executive Director of Metroland Cultures, and was previously the Artistic Director of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture. She is also a consultant, writer, researcher and programmer working in the arts. Lois specialises in taking people and organisations through change and development with new approaches and strategic thinking. Lois’ work in areas of cultural strategy with Associates is in collaboration with other academics, policy experts, curators and sector experts. Over 2018 she developed a cultural think tank, The Jennie Lee Institute, to imagine new cultural futures for the UK, engaging the voices of young people, artists and policymakers to extend the value of culture to all areas of the everyday. In addition to this Lois develops curatorial and research projects which are always artist and idea-led, working with artists to realise ambitious projects. This work also informs her strategic thinking in other areas, as she is increasingly working at the intersection of art and society.
MANAGING DIRECTOR AT RPO
James was appointed Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in June 2016. Notable achievements include the appointment of Vasily Petrenko as the RPO’s next Music Director (starting 2021); a new Associate Orchestra partnership between the RPO and the Royal Albert Hall; establishing a new home for the Orchestra at Wembley Park in partnership with the developer Quintain; and overseeing an international touring schedule that has involved the RPO performing across the world including major tours of Asia, Europe and the USA. The RPO’s move to Brent will enable the Orchestra to build long-term partnerships with local organisations and artists, and contribute to the Borough’s cultural, community and education priorities for the benefit of Brent’s residents.
ARTS AND TEXTILES TEACHER, ALPERTON COMMUNITY SCHOOL
ANDRIA ZAFIRAKOU MBE
Andria has been teaching art and design at the Alperton Community School for 14 years. In 2018, she was awarded the Global Teacher Prize and has recently set up a charity called Artists in Residence to support the arts in education. Andria received an MBE in 2019 for her services to education.