I am the Youth & Community Engagement Lead here at The GAP. Within my role I work closely with young people and organisations to build and maintain relationships for our charity. I work closely with our Programme Director and Director to plan and understand the different programmes on offer at The GAP and how best to offer these opportunities to different young people and community members. I also lead on promotional campaigns, manage and update our website, and any social and digital media output coming from our page. I work on engagement strategy to make our venue more accessible and encourage use by our local and extended community. I can often be found in the café space and when I am not typing away, I can be found answering any queries about opportunities, exhibitions, events and pathways at The GAP. My email: firstname.lastname@example.org For any queries please do not hesitate to contact me!
Community Café Saturday Supervisor - Chi Kim
Programme Director -
Having experienced the benefits of The GAP’s work myself as a young participant for several years, I’m now committed to developing further transformative cultural learning experiences that other young people can benefit from. I first joined the core team in 2016 as project manager on Beyond Borders, and since then I’ve been involved in whole host of projects working as an exhibition curator, event producer, programmer, creative workshop facilitator, set designer, community story researcher, venue manager, and more. One of the biggest joys of working at The GAP for me is holding space for people to come together to share ideas, develop skills and build community. I’m really fascinated by the lesser-heard histories of people and places, and the role that art can play in connecting us to these stories.
Fundraising Consultant - Alexia Pepper de Caires
Introducing… Alexia! Over the next 6 months, Alexia will be supporting The GAP to develop our fundraising and resourcing strategy to ensure the work grows and thrives in coming years. Alexia is a bookmonger, writer and noticer with a background in local authority and charity structural work. She set up Back To Books Brum in 2019 as a radical & representative bookspace and uses her online and in-person spaces to resist oppression and expand understandings of queer, Global Majority, disabled and neurodivergent living.
Community Café Manager - Heather Reid
I am excited to be working with The GAP as the new Community Café Manager for The Mix. I have worked in catering and hospitality for ten years, in a variety of roles including baker, front of house manager and chef. Alongside this I have five years experience working as a community focussed self employed artist, art technician and event facilitator. I am passionate about disability justice, land justice and community care. I use cooking as a daily sanctuary, engaging with fresh ingredients, working with time, flavour and heat to make food that is delicious and nourishing. Building relaxed shared public spaces and sharing information about how we prepare, cook and eat food together are both conscious acts of community respect that for me, are both comforting and powerful. I am really happy to have a job where I have the opportunity to put my work into somewhere that centres community care.
Finance Support (Voluntary) - Abbas Shapuri
In the day time I’m a Chartered Accountant specializing in the hospitality sector. I believe in the ability that numbers have to create lasting change and communicate events and pictures that words may not be able to. I’ve been affiliated with The GAP for over 10 years, having been a member of its predecessor, Theatre Ark. The personal impact of the charity was instrumental in my decision to continue to support The GAP as a bookeeper. I’m passionate about The GAP’s ability to connect with young people and its role in supporting young artists to realise their potential. I’ve also recently learnt how to cook! This skill has allowed me to serve up various dishes such as oats, oats with peanut butter and also toast. Aside from being a Michelin Star chef, I’m also a world-class footballer who just hasn’t got my break yet.
Development & Operations Manager - Suriya Thayaparan
As an eager non-profit and social enterprise business specialist, I have worked with various non-profit organizations to develop and implement innovative bespoke programmes, workshops, or models to encompass their causes, including TEDxAstonUniversity and The World Economic Forum. Since coming to Birmingham in 2019 to study Biomedical Sciences at Aston University, I was empowered by the untapped creative history of Birmingham to support local young people in pursuing careers in the arts and cultural sector. I joined The GAP's core team in 2023 as the development and operations manager; I envision continuing to grow our space for young people and explore novel opportunities we can embed to better our inclusive artistic practices, whilst upholding our commitments to being youth-led. In my spare time, you will find me immersed in non-fiction novels, or writing poetry.
Since founding the organisation in 2009 I’ve continued to mentor the core team at The GAP, but these days, in truth, it’s usually me learning from them and I often struggle to keep up. I am lucky to have worked in the arts with and for young people, both here and abroad, ever since I was one myself. I’ve directed and written plays for them, designed theatre-in-education, delivered arts projects and festivals, taught them drama and illustrated picture books. Facilitating young people’s creative development is My Thing. It’s my privilege to witness on a daily basis the capacity of all kinds of young people for creating meaningful art and culture of the highest quality and significance for the wider community. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather work.
Greener Spaces Resident Artist - Rebekah Warmington
I am delighted to have joined the GAP team to help facilitate our Garden regeneration project! I am looking forward to co-creating with the all of the young people and community members who feel open to get involved. Through reviving the Garden at Myrtle Cottage, we intend to develop an urban oasis which reflects the heart and history of Balsall Heath and its vibrant communities and cultures. I hope that as the garden grows it will provide place and space to nurture our collective wellbeing, and help us to deepen our connections to the more-than-human life that surrounds us. I work as a Nature Pedagogue and Environmental Educator and my practice is deeply rooted in experiential learning, holistic wellbeing and nature connection. I love to create and imagine and I am thankful to have worked and volunteered within a range of different community-based projects and initiatives in the UK and overseas. I am excited to now be bringing my learning and experiences back home, and to focus on how our communities can be supported and strengthened by building relationships and coming together to take action.
My work background is in TIE and currently for Geese Theatre Co whose work is mainly in the Criminal Justice System and also with those at risk in the community. Our approach recognises people as whole beings, whatever their past...with the aim to sharing tools to build and create meaningful futures. I am a firm believer in the power of the arts. It is useful for exploration of the world and self, and its power to change people and challenge perspectives is unique. It is an essential gift for all - especially the young. As well as being a strong advocate for The GAP and its commitment to its community I am super happy that The MIX exists alongside, as my second love is food...and lots of it!
My background is in Community Engagement, Development and Project Management. I have worked with a number of third sector organisations including Ramblers, THSH, Brap and Accord. I have supported women’s organisations in producing and delivering educational materials, and advised, trained and managed local delivery of the government funded Holiday Kitchen and Happy Healthy Holidays projects, supporting children and families during school holidays. I run Adventures With Food, a local cookery educational initiative that I set up, and am a director at Communities, Engage & Thrive, a CIC specialising in nutrition and wellbeing.
Damian J. Hursey
I am undertaking a doctorate in practical theology looking at medieval maps, and the way we conceptualise our relationship to the land has changed since the middle ages. I am interested in the interplay of ideas with activism, community, contemplation and creativity, so The GAP arts project fits wonderfully with my range of interests. I have previously worked in the charitable, pastoral and creative sectors. I was first impressed by The GAP since I became aware of its presence in the Old Print Works, after losing to them in BrumSoup back in 2017! I was a co-worker at The Print Works, and thought it was great the way they served people coffee and cake through the hatch during the pandemic, as all the people were so friendly. It brightened up my day buying coffee and cake and having a little chat, and soon I had bought so much cake from them I started to put on weight! Then after the pandemic, it turned out the whole cafe had been transformed into an awesome bright event and exhibition space, like a chrysalis turning into a beautiful big butterfly! One of the staff asked me what I thought and I said it was amazing! Which it was. Following that, I got to know the GAP team better through being one of the Community Producers, during their cultural resistance project. This was marvellous for me as I had been involved in Creative campaigning at COP 26, and it was super fun to come up with ideas and explore different themes around cultural resistance in various maverick and marvellous ways, as I love expressing my creative and artistic side, and had plenty of chance to do so on Second Saturdays, when we played in a band, flew home made kites and did a rebellious flash mob dance in the street! I am an amateur activist, artist, philosopher and poet and I like the idea of being an amateur because it is about exploring the beginnings of things with enthusiasm. Reality begins in the imagination, and everything amazing was once someone’s dream. I try to live with enough space to have time to truly encounter people, and let my feet guide me into new experiences where I can be present where the Universe wants me to be. Sometimes I feel God guides me to people that need my help when I am able to be open in this way. As a Trustee I hope to bring my experience in community formation and engagement, pastoral work and amateur pantomime, to assisting the team as it moves into the exciting next phase of its life.
I currently work in finance for a workers cooperative called Third Sector Accountancy. Before this I was in the not-for-profit sector for a number of years, most recently at the charity Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK), focussing on ethical supply chains and finance. I am passionate about the power of the arts to enrich our lives and spark positive change. I value The GAP's efforts towards this and making the arts accessible to all.
As an education specialist, I am a big believer in lifelong learning. Since joining The GAP family as a student in Birmingham, I have gone on to work with various non-profit organisations in science communication, global health and disability education, bringing my passion and commitment for social justice to The GAP. In my spare time, I am almost always found in the kitchen, experimenting with plant-based ingredients.
Will Moore - Chair
I have been a trustee of The GAP since 2014 and became Chair of the Board in 2020. I am currently studying a Masters in Social and Public Policy at the University of York and I am employed as a Student Transitions Teacher in the Institute of Society and Community at the University of Wolverhampton. I am also a keen musician, playing in two local Birmingham bands (Lobster and Ire-ish), both of which have featured at a number of events at The GAP. I strongly believe in the positive work of The GAP and am immensely proud to have witnessed the growth and development of the charity over the course of my involvement.
Maria Wells - Vice Chair
I first joined the organisation in 2009 and have been involved in various projects creatively and now manage the bookkeeping and finances along with being secretary for the Board. Things I am passionate about include, community, conversation and cake!
I’m currently a Politics and International Relations Student at the University of Birmingham, as well as being an ambassador for the university, and working in their Development and Alumni Relations Office as a fundraiser. I have volunteered with the charities Age UK Birmingham and Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis, and I aim to make a difference in the community wherever I can. That’s why the work that the GAP do is very important to me- I’m passionate about making a difference in the local area and I will bring a positive and driven attitude to the GAP. Outside of work and studying, I really enjoying running, and I ran the London Marathon for Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2023.
Chris Cooper - Drama Practitioner
Chris has worked in TIE and educational theatre and drama since 1988 as an actor, director and playwright. He was the Artistic Director of Big Brum Theatre in Education Company for 17 years (1999-2015) where he directed 35 new TIE programmes and many special projects over the years; including 9 World Premiere productions of new plays by British playwright Edward Bond commissioned by the Company. In 2008 Cooper set up Accident Time Productions which works mostly in Europe on theatre productions and projects, teaching, training, lecturing and presenting workshops, including ongoing long-term collaborations in Slovenia, Greece, Norway, Hungary, Malta and Ireland. He has written extensively on the theory and practice of educational theatre and drama in a variety of books, journals, and other publications. Since 2009 Cooper has been working with Drama Rainbow Education (DRE) Company, Beijing training of teachers in drama education and the development of theatre education. He has also created picture books illustrated by Ceri Townsend as part of a Creative Curriculum the Company offers for children aged 3-8 years old in kindergartens and arts centres. Before Covid he was a frequent visitor to mainland China working extensively in the field of drama and theatre education in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Guangzhou and second tier cities. In January 2017, he became a founder member and the International Director of Jian Xue (See & Learn), which is a research and development NGO in the field of educational drama and theatre with a specific interest in theatre-in-education and international projects, particularly those connecting the Chinese speaking world. Since 1996, Cooper has been the author of 51 plays that have been performed in the UK, China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Greece and Norway. In 2022 DRE will produce Bag Lady and Rise & Shine for their Youth Theatre, Making Mummy will tour Beijing theatres, and they will stage a TiE tour of You & Me to Kindergartens. Big Brum will tour Along the Silk Road, The GAP Arts Project, Birmingham, will stage Once Upon a Time… and the Wasa Teater, Vaasa, Finland will premiere The Clearing this autumn.
Jane Thakoordin - Participatory Artist
I am a textile artist, educator and participatory artist, which means that the evidence and research informed work I create is always in collaboration with others. A great fan of the bright, bold and beautiful my practice is rooted in my Guyanese heritage, celebrating colour and texture in the work that I produce with groups and organisations both locally and regionally. I use textiles, found objects and upcycled “stuff” often donated by people who know my penchant for the eclectic and colourful. I draw on my professional experiences as a mental health practitioner to link creativity and wellbeing in the workshops. I work collaboratively with, amongst others, people seeking asylum, supporting individuals and co-creating work. One of the highlights of the recent Humankindness Project was radical kindness through gift creating for strangers who have made our city their home. I am a founder/member of MIXED RAGE- a collective of artists of mixed heritages, who recently exhibited at MAC in Birmingham. A recipient of a THRIVE Research bursary, I am currently working with Universities and Youth projects to interrogate the language of mental health and wellbeing, using textiles and zine making as methods of engagement.