Andrea Stark

Employment, Skills and Culture, Director, Islington

Stark first worked in theatre before becoming the arts chief for the City of Sunderland and later Dundee City Council, where she worked on major regeneration programmes using the creative industries to drive local economic growth. In 1999, she became Chief Executive of the Eastern Arts Board, the Arts Council England Executive Director for the East and South East, and a member of their National Executive Board. In 2012, Stark left to become Chief Executive of the new High House Production Park in Essex. There, she led the team that created a national centre of excellence for creative industries. She was chief executive of High House Production Park and has been appointed a director of the Foundation for Future London, the organisation responsible for developing the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a new cultural and educational district.

Audrey Carlin

WASPS, CEO, Edinburgh 

Audrey Carlin is the Chief Executive Officer at Wasps, and the UK’s largest provider of affordable high-quality studio, office and working space to the creative sector. Wasps, which stands for Workshop and Artists’ Studio Provision Scotland, is a social enterprise accommodating 900 artists, creative industries and cultural tenants in 20 locations across Scotland, from the main cities, to rural areas, and Islands. 

Audrey is a Chartered Town Planner with 27 years experience, delivering £50m of regeneration focused activity in Scotland. Much of Wasps’ work involves bringing vacant historic buildings back into use as artists’ studios and a base for cultural social enterprises– helping to regenerate the communities in which they are located. Providing space for creative industries to start up and grow has been an increasingly important part of this work in recent years.


Ben Gray

British Council Kazakhstan, Deputy Director, Almaty 

He initially taught English at the British Council in St Petersburg Russia, and then moved to Kyiv to manage military and security sector English language teaching reform projects in Ukraine and Moldova. In 2009 he was appointed English Language Advisor for the British Council Sudan – a role he held for 3 years and which, from 2010 onwards, he combined with being the regional lead for British Council teacher development projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.  In 2012 took up the role of Director English in Libya and from 2014 combined this role with leading on an online learning project in the Middle East and North Africa region. In 2016 he returned to the UK to work as an adviser for the British Council’s UK Exams and English teams, and in 2017 was appointed Deputy Director for Iraq, a position which involved him managing the British Council's office in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

Cathy Graham

British Council, Director Music, London

Since November 2006 she has been Director of Music at the British Council in London working across all genres of music on projects which create trust and understanding between the UK and the rest of the world. In December 2018 Cathy was awarded an Honorary RNCM from the Royal Northern College of Music in recognition of her significant support of the UK music sector. In 2019 she was awarded the prestigious ABO Award from the Association of British Orchestras which is  presented annually to the individual or institution considered by the membership to have made the most important contribution to the orchestral life of the UK.  The ABO Award is unique among the many prestigious awards and prizes in the music world because its recipient is nominated by the member orchestras themselves.

Claire de Braekeleer

British Council, Director Arts, Wider Europe, London 

Claire leads the strategic direction of an arts programme across 15 countries in Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and the Western Balkans. Previously she was Director Partnerships for the British Council in Egypt from 2014-17, leading on business pursuit and communications. Based in Moscow from 2012-14 Claire served as Deputy Director, British Council Russia, leading a portfolio across Education, English and Arts. Prior she was Head of Arts, running a major cultural programme with high profile partners in the UK and Russia.  Starting her career at the British Council’s Creative Economy team in London she managed the Young Creative Entrepreneur awards, a scheme for innovative entrepreneurs in the creative industries across 50 countries. 


Dr Rathna Ramanathan

Royal College of Art, School of Communication, Dean, London 

Dean, Dr Rathna Ramanathan  is a graphic designer and historian known for her expertise in intercultural communication and alternative publishing practices. She is Dean of Communication at the Royal College of Art, London. She works in international cross-disciplinary teams whilst leading the research, design and delivery of communication on projects for BBC World (Hindi and Bangla), British Council, UNICEF India, World Bank, as well as publishers Tara Books and Harvard University Press. Themes of urban and cultural heritage resonate in Rathna’s work including the relevance of tangible (archives) and intangible heritages; cities envisioned through rural/tribal creative imaginations; dialogues of people, politics and place; as well as working with endangered Indian heritages.

Erika Rushton

Creative Economist, London

Erika harnesses local action, entrepreneurship and creativity to make places, build local economies, community owned assets and wealth. An entrepreneur herself, Erika shares her expertise and energy through her own business Creative Economist, supporting the growth of creative clusters in the North West and advises emerging creative clusters internationally in partnership with The British Council and European Hub Network. Long term contracts include working with Islington Mill to deliver the first Artist Led District in the UK and The Beautiful Ideas Company who have invested half a million pounds in over 50 innovations and creative ventures that are potentially viable and do good in the world. Within 3 years those ventures have achieved a turnover in excess of £3million and are employing over 150 people. Erika has Chaired the Board at Baltic Creative for ten years since its inception.


Fiona Morris

The Space, CEO and Creative Director, London

Fiona took up the role of Creative Director and Chief Executive of the Space in January 2016.  Over the last 3 years The Space has commissioned over 200 digital projects from arts organisations around the UK, and worked with over 400? organisations helping them explore, develop and evolve their digital strategies. 

Fiona is a music and arts producer with over 25 years’ experience producing and commissioning programmes. She has worked in the UK indie sector for most of her career but spent 6 years working in BBC Music.  She has produced a variety of award winning films including performance, documentary and entertainment programmes that have received Prix Italia, Emmy, Grammy and BAFTA awards. 

Gerald Lidstone

Goldsmiths, Director of the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, London 

Founder of the MA Arts Administration and Cultural Policy and co-founder of the MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship programme and the MA in Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy. He has worked for over twelve years on behalf of The Ministry of Culture and Information in Viet Nam establishing Arts Management education in Hanoi University of Culture, funded by the Ford Foundation, well as being awarded the national medal for culture in Viet Nam. He was also the director of a four-year British Know-How Fund (Foreign Office) project establishing arts management education in Slovakia. An outcome of this was the publication of the first book on arts management in Slovak and the British Council project Closer to the Museum.


Gill Gourlay

University of Northampton, Subject Leader Marketing and Entrepreneurship Principal Lecturer, Northampton

Gill had a 20 year career in marketing and marketing research, which included running her own consultancy.  Clients included Astra Zeneca, Boots PLC and the Learning and Skills Council.  A move into academia enabled practice to be brought into the classroom.  Gill manages a team of 28 to develop curriculum and deliver teaching across the disciplines.She is programme leader for the MA Social Innovation and is currently completing her doctorate in curriculum design and validation. Gill is currently running Creative Spark project in Kazakhstan building an ecosystem within the Fashion Industry and an Erasmus + within Central Asia to build Entrepreneurial skills within tourism.