Kully Thiarai is Creative Director and CEO of Leeds 2023 – the city’s international year of culture. Having worked with prestigious arts organisations across the UK, Kully is renowned for her bold and ground-breaking work in the performing arts.
Kully’s extensive experience includes commissioning, producing and directing work nationally and internationally, developing and nurturing talent and creating opportunities for those who may have little or no access to the arts. She has created a diverse range of work that spans communities, cultures and performance styles; has directed large-scale epics, new plays and made work in non-theatre spaces.
Before taking up her position at Leeds 2023, Kully was Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre Wales. Her 30 year career also includes being the founding Director of Cast – a £22 million performance venue in Doncaster; Co-Artistic Director of the Leicester Haymarket Theatre; Artistic Director and CEO of Contact Theatre Manchester, Theatre Writing Partnership and Red Ladder Theatre Company. She is a Trustee of Manchester International Festival (MIF), The Art Foundation and Artistic Advisor of Leeds based theatre company Slung Low. Kully is Honorary Fellow of Central School of Speech and Drama and a fellow of the RSA. She was also the winner of the 2020 Cultural Icon Award in The Inaugural Northern Asian powerlist.
Farha is a Policy Lead for NHS England and has held several management roles in the NHS. Prior to working for the NHS, she was a strategy consultant at KPMG where she advised business leaders on growth strategy, organisational change and global health systems. She has an undergraduate degree from Oxford University in Modern Languages, and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. During her time at Columbia, Farha worked as a policy advisor to former US president Bill Clinton at The Clinton Foundation. Farha is also a trustee for the charity Paintings in Hospitals. Farha is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University, through which she is working on her first novel.
Lauren Dark is a BAFTA winning Film and TV producer at Aluna Entertainment. Prior to that she spent four years as an Executive Producer at Film4, Channel4 television’s film arm known for developing and co-financing some of the most successful films of recent years. While at Film4 she Executive Produced and commissioned, amongst others, Florian Zeller’s OSCAR winning debut THE FATHER starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, which premiered at Sundance in 2020, Rebecca Hall’s BAFTA and SAG nominated PASSING, which premiered at Sundance in 2021, Prano Bailey Bond’s CENSOR, which premiered at Sundance in 2021, Soudade Kaadan’s NEZOUH, which won the Audience Award at Venice in 2022 and Mark Jenkin’s ENYS MEN, which premiered at Cannes, Directors’ Fortnight, in 2022. Lauren produced Michael Pearce’s BAFTA and BIFA winning debut film BEAST starring Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn and Jack Thorne and Tom Harper’s political thriller WAR BOOK starring Sophie Okonedo and Antony Sher.
She is currently a board member of Womankind Worldwide and on the National Youth Theatre’s IGNITE Your Creativity Industry Advisory board.
Asma Hussain (she/her) is a fundraising professional with over 10 years of experience of securing major gifts for the arts and charity sectors. Her skills cut across trusts and foundations, individual giving, events and corporate fundraising. Her previous roles in the arts include Trusts & Foundations Manager at the Royal Opera House, and Development Manager at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Most recently, she was Head of Fundraising at a national social change charity, Campaign Bootcamp. She is currently studying an MA in Postcolonial Studies at SOAS, London. Asma is also Trustee of Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Chair of its first Fundraising Board, and also Chair of AWA DANCE.
Corey Campbell is the Artistic Director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company, Co-Artistic Director of the Belgrade Theatre and Honorary Member of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
He is an international performer director and practitioner, currently working on the digital TV series SeaView.
With over 30 years’ experience as a pensions lawyer, Carolyn heads the pensions practice at global law firm, Pinsent Masons, which is the largest specialist pensions law team of its type. Amongst other things, her role involves responsibility for the strategic direction of that practice and working with trustee boards on a day-to-day basis to improve their governance.
Carolyn is also the head of Pinsent Masons’ London office, which is the firm’s global headquarters. In that role she is involved with the office’s responsible business initiatives and sits on the London Board of Business in the Community.
As a recognised expert in her field, Carolyn is a thought leader in the industry and leads campaigns around diversity and inclusion in the financial services sector, which has included collaboration with the Fawcett Society, and around climate change.
Recognised by the major legal directories as “an all-round brilliant lawyer to deal with” (Chambers & Partners) and a “first rate choice on complex matters where clarity is essential” (Legal 500), Carolyn is a frequent conference speaker and media commentator on pensions issues. She is also an experienced trainer who lectures regularly on trustee training courses for the pensions industry.
Carolyn spends her spare time singing with the London Philharmonic Choir and going to the theatre and opera.