Appointed April 2016
Abby is an experienced creative leader in Marketing and Audiences, with a background in commercial, arts and broadcasting sectors. Her key skills include brand strategy, campaign planning and creative facilitation; with a focus on youth audiences. At the BBC Abby has worked on BBC Children’s, BBC Sport, 5 live and BBC Learning brands and she has worked on some of the BBC’s most exciting digital offers. Most recently in her role as Marketing Manager for BBC Learning she has launched several education campaigns in digital skills acquisition, literacy and arts; and created brand identities for the BBC’s flagship education brands. Her proudest moment to date has been launching BBC micro:bit, the BBC’s most ambitious education endeavour since the BBC Micro: delivering 1 million miniature computers to every year 7 child in the country, to teach them to write code.
As a published writer Abby has a passion for literature and creative writing; having held voluntary editorial and creative writing teaching roles for arts organisations and charities in Manchester.
Abby is a proud northerner and supporter of creative industry in the North West. She has an interest in gender equality and accessibility in the arts.
Appointed April 2016
Ruth has spent the last nine years building from scratch a highly successful, nationally recognised Creative Lancashire service and unique Lancashire brand. Invited in 2008 to become a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce in recognition of her work for the Creative and Digital sector.
When working as Sector Specialist for the Learning and Skills Council in South Yorkshire, Ruth worked with FE and HE partners to deliver some major multi million pound creative and digital skills programmes and state of the art training facilities.
Ruth’s business background includes 15 years working in broadcast media as a Producer and Director, running two small independent companies and working for some of the major broadcasters including Channel 4 and the BBC.
Appointed March 2015
Debra is an experienced arts leader with proven strategic ability and a wide ranging knowledge of music, the arts, education, culture, community participation at a local, national and international level. Debra ‘s previous roles include- Director of Women in Music London; ACE Music Officer: Co artistic director of the Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme; Manager of the of Australian Contemporary Arts programme across the UK and Europe. Co-director of Fkuk an international producing company; Co-producer for the Nitin Sawhney project, Aftershock.
Debra is currently the Director of Brighter Sound a cultural producer of music programmes pioneering new ways to explore creative music with artists and musicians. Brighter Sound is widely known for its work with young people and regularly contributes to research and strategic development on a regional and national scale.
Appointed March 2015
After successfully running two participatory arts companies in the north east, Annie took up her role as Head of Education and Participation with Theatre by the Lake in 2012. Annie is a specialist in participatory arts practice and in particular, the effect that theatre creation has on children and young people’s learning.
“I have always believed passionately that every one of us has potential, skills and capabilities not yet developed and personal goals not yet accomplished. So I love to work alongside young people to help them to recognise their own potential, and to develop self-belief and a sense of personal empowerment.”
Appointed March 2015
Ivan Wadeson joined The Dukes, Lancaster as Executive Director in September 2014. Prior to that he was Chief Executive of All About Audiences (nee Arts About Manchester) between 2003 and 2012 and then from 1012 joint Executive Director of The Audience Agency.
Between 1993 and 1999 Ivan worked at Sadler’s Wells where, as Head of Marketing, he was part of the team that oversaw the Lottery funded re-building and re-opening of Sadler’s Wells. He then moved to Manchester to be Marketing Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre from 1999 until spring 2003.
He is Fellow of the RSA and a Common Purpose graduate (2006-7).
Virginia Tandy OBE
Appointed February 2014
Virginia Tandy has a wealth of experience in strategic cultural development and delivery and has held Director level posts both in local government and the independent cultural sector. A board member of a wide range of regional and national organisations, she was elected President of the Museums Association from 2006-2008.
Currently a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, she is a postgraduate researcher in cultural policy at the University of Manchester, a consultant and coach in the HE and cultural sectors and an adviser to charitable foundations. A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, in 2009 she was awarded an OBE for services to the arts.
Appointed December 2012
Peter Stevens is retired but – previously worked for Hays Specialist Recruitment Ltd. Pilkington plc and ICI plc, having qualified with Pannell Fitzpatrick & Co. (now PKF). He has had a variety of roles from Group chief Internal Auditor to Service Centre director. Peter spent much of his career managing the implementation of change management programmes and business processes underpinned by new ERP systems, often then going on to managing those new organisations and processes in a Service centre.
The first two companies he worked for had global operations, so he was fortunate to undertake work in Continental Europe, North & South America, Australia and China.
Married with two sons, outside work his interests are theatre, photography and genealogy.
Appointed February 2009
Mebz Bobat works for Blackburn with Darwen Children’s Services as a Head of Service within the School and Learning Development Division. He has overall responsibility for many areas of provision including school sports, music and arts, healthy schools, extending schools, citizenship and anti bullying. He is also a member of the executive group of the North West arts learning consortium and until recently was a member of the Lancashire Sports Partnership Board.
He states that one of his aims is to provide as varied a menu of opportunities as possible for the children and young people in the borough and culture is one area that he is keen to support through direct delivery to children and young people and through providing support and encouragement to schools to continue to offer these experiences. One of the memories of primary school that stand out for Mebz is playing the part of “Happy” in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. This and other similar experiences have contributed to his development and he wants the children and young people to be able to feel the same way.