Meet our team of experts from the worlds of education and culture to guide the project and hold our aims to account.
Dr Sylvan BakerToggle
Sylvan has been a practitioner and researcher working across the fields of applied theatre, socially engaged arts and social justice for the past 30 years. Their practice has taken place across the UK and globally in sites in Brazil, and the USA, in a diverse range of contexts and communities and has a specific interest in international interventions in site of conflict and transitional justice.
Before coming to Central, Sylvan was Artistic Director of Youth Action’s Rainbow Factory, the largest cross community Arts project in N. Ireland. From 2000-2006, they were Associate Director of London Bubble Theatre company where they worked on participatory projects with children, young people and adults and on Bubble’s intergenerational promenade theatre performances. Sylvan completed a MA in Drama, Applied Theatre at Central in 2007. In 2005, they began working with the arts and social justice research centre, People’s Palace Projects, (PPP) where I coordinated the UK partnerships projects between Brazilian Social Project AfroReggae and arts organisations from across the UK including the Barbican; Southbank Centre; Theatre Royal Stratford East; Contact, Manchester; The Lawnmowers and The Sage, Gateshead.
They became Associate Director of PPP in 2010 and completed a practice research PhD on my work with AfroReggae in 2014. Sylvan is an Associate Artist for the Clod Ensemble’s Performing Medicine.
Darren Chetty is a writer, and lecturer at University College London. He taught in primary schools for twenty years. Darren has worked as an artist in residence in schools and led philosophy projects for children and adults.
He has published academic work on philosophy, education, racism, children’s literature and hip-hop culture. He is a contributor to the bestselling book, The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound). Darren is co-author, with Jeffrey Boakye, of What Is Masculinity? Why Does It Matter? And Other Big Questions (Wayland).
He co-authored, with Adam Ferner, How To Disagree: Negotiating Difference in a Divided World (Quarto) and co-edited, with Judith Suissa, Critical Philosophy of Race and Education (Routledge). Darren writes, with Karen Sands O’Connor, a regular column for Books for Keeps, entitled Beyond the Secret Garden?
Kay Rufai is a Photographer, Poet, Filmmaker, Author, Mental Health researcher and founder of the internationally acclaimed S.M.I.L.E-ing Boys projects. He is currently the West Midlands Police Artist in residence for Coventry City of Culture, using creative arts to improve relationships between police and criminalised young people.
His work spans the past 8 years in a handful of countries including the UK, USA, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Germany, Scandinavia, Mexico, Nigeria and Colombia. His work explores themes of masculinity, identity, mental health, serious youth violence and community cohesion through art, photography, educational workshops, residencies, training and public events.
A great deal of his work has directly engaged diverse communities, young people in custody, at-risk youth, refugee and displaced groups of people as well as collaboratively creating bodies of work with them.
Dr Javeria K. ShahToggle
A Sociologist specialising in Visual and Social Cultures, Dr Javeria K. Shah is an artist, academic, and educationalist, driven by the pursuit of social justice. Their work is interdisciplinary and aligns with the visual arts, sociology, policy, and education fields.
Their research draws on person-centred methodologies that incorporate visual anthropology and narrative approaches to interrogate and re-conceptualise societal positioning(s) of the individual and their self-identity formation.
In 2018, they set up the Social Performance Network which is a research and practice-orientated platform that aims to extend focus on issues surrounding socialisation and its “performance” and enactment in social world contexts.
Dr Vicky StoreyToggle
Dr Vicky Storey is a Director at Chol, a live story-making company based in Yorkshire, England.
Vicky’s practice focuses on dramatic pedagogies and teacher development. Her recent PhD research questions how Chol’s flagship story-making process, Imaginary Communities, can position children and teachers as Equal Playmakers.
It considers how this ‘way of being’ in the classroom supports teachers to disrupt and resist pressures of performativity that can lead to overtly teacher-led and outcome-driven practices. Vicky’s passion for research drives an ongoing commitment to reflective practice and evaluation in the arts and education sector.
Her unique position as practitioner, researcher, and leader of an arts organisation offers nuanced insights into the challenges and possibilities for professional learning in these spaces.