Summit: ldn24

Length: 17423

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This talk is presented by

Emma-Jane Benning - Co-founder & Co-Artistic Director, Strike A Light

Emma-Jane is the Co founder and Co Artistic Director of Strike A Light and arts charity & NPO based in Gloucester now in its 10th year.

Emma-Jane dreamed of being an actor. Following her MA at Central School of Speech And Drama she realised it takes a very special person to live that life (and she was a bit mediocre) so focused her energy on Education and Programming in particular dance. Simultaneously working for Malvern Theatres and ACE Dance And Music she strove to push the boundaries of what organisation could achieve thinking outside of the box. A move to Theatre Bristol as Dance Producer instilled an ethos of generosity, sharing and artists centred approaches to work. Her time at Strike A Light has been empowering. Working in a female led organisation allowed a growth in confidence and collaborative approach that not all organisations can enable. Strike A Light has challenged and driven a method of working that is not the ‘norm’. Strike A Light sometimes fries her brain. It's exciting and taxing so outside of work she loves the outdoors, gardening, walking her dogs and yoga - she loves her kids too but they are too busy being teenagers.

Sarah Blowers - Co-founder & Co-Artistic Director, Strike A Light

Sarah Blowers is the founder and current co-artistic director of Strike A Light.

Sarah produced her first play aged 7 at her infants school, an interpretation of Jason and the Minotaur having been taken to see a 6th form production of it by her dad.

Many bad school plays later she trained at East 15 acting school. Upon leaving she dropped out of UK life and lived in Southern Spain for a few years with a lot of hippies. She walked back to the UK with a rescue donkey and returned to making theatre.

Sarah has been an arts leader for over 20 years. She founded Fairgame Theatre and toured new devised work nationally, particularly in remote rural communities for over 8 years. She has worked extensively in schools, theatres, and communities, predominantly in areas of deprivation and always with local cultural and social leaders. Co-creation and the sharing of power and resource has always underpinned how she works.

In 2020 Sarah was seconded to work at Battersea Arts Centre as director of the Co-Creating Change network, during the pandemic she became the interim Director of Creative Communities and Co-Lead producer for Battersea Arts Centre.

In her spare time Sarah is producing a new British musical called Heavenly Bodies with pole dancing and hymns; she’s hoping it may provide her with a pension!

Sarah identifies as an arts activist, she really gives a shit about the arts being accessible for everyone and believes that the arts has the power to transform lives.