Joseph Seelig OBE (Chair)
Joseph Seelig OBE (Chair) was born and educated in Birmingham. He is the founder and co-director of London International Mime Festival and co-founder and chair of HQ Theatres Trust. He was co-founder and director of Hetherington Seelig, an international arts management/production company presenting opera, ballet, theatre, circus and music world-wide between 1980-1994. He has been international programme director of the Hongkong Arts Festival and artistic director of the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
James A. Cook
James joined the board in 2016 after helping with the promotional trailer film for the festival. He is a graduate of Aston University and has worked in Birmingham as a qualified accountant for many years in the public and private sectors. Currently, James is a Regional Productivity Director with the NHS.
In his spare time, James is involved in amateur dramatics, performing in musical comedies twice a year. He is passionate about giving young people the opportunity to perform on stage and develop life skills through the theatre.
Jo Lee is a marketing and audience development specialist, holding roles in visual arts and performing arts venues, museums and the Arts Council for the almost 20 years. Jo has worked with boards, senior management teams and staff at large and small organisations, on a wide range projects, campaigns and budgets. Now working in the charity sector, Jo is still passionate about the arts and opportunities to bring new, exciting work to UK audiences.
Stuart Rogers – Executive Director, Birmingham REP
Stuart was born and educated in Birmingham and has worked in theatre management since 1973 when he became Theatre Programmer for the Birmingham Arts Lab. He then moved on to manage the Gulbenkian Studio Theatre and Newcastle Playhouse in Newcastle upon Tyne, followed by periods as Executive Director for Chester Gateway Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse. Before returning to Birmingham in 2002 to take up his current post at The REP, Stuart was based in the southern Italian city of Bari where he worked with the international touring theatre company Teatro Kismet.
In addition to managing theatres, Stuart has also undertaken a range of consultancy and training work including work for Arts Council England, The British Council, The Soros Foundation, Amsterdam Summer University, L’Université de Dijon, L’Institut Francais, NOROC, The Arab Arts Association Hackney Empire, M6 Theatre Company, Action Transport Theatre Company, Dance 4, Nuffield Theatre Southampton and The Welsh College of Dance & Drama.
Originally from London, a corporate background, travelling and studying Drama and Education at The Central School of Speech & Drama, I arrived in Birmingham in 2005 as the Festivals & Initiatives Manager to lead on Birmingham City Council’s £2.1M programme called Urban Fusion where I was responsible for organising funding, producing and delivering various projects across niche music, digital, theatre and jewellery festivals along with dance, public art, contemporary art and film projects.
BE Festival was originally part of the Urban Fusion programme when this unique festival first started and later on, I subsequently became a Board Member. I am very pleased to say, I have not looked back since and still remain very excited by what BE Festival continues to bring to the UK and Europe
After spending 5+ years at Birmingham City Council, I decided to become a Freelance Artistic Consultant, Events and Project Manager delivering projects such as Birmingham Made Me, Festival of Imagination, Jamaica in the Square, Longbridge Light Festival and many more including most recently working for BCU’s STEAMhouse programme, Google Digital Garage and Birmingham Conservatoire.
Isla Aguilar – co-director
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Isla’s background is in curating and for more than 10 years she worked for exhibitions in Spain. She has also worked in publishing, as a project editor and coordinator of art books for Ediciones El Viso in Madrid.
She co-founded BE FESTIVAL with Miguel and Mike in 2010. In 2009 she co-founded Madrid based touring company Mirage Teatro, and has produced all of their productions, including LÁZARO (National tour, Teatro Español, Corral de Comedias de Alcalá); Quijotadas (Teatro Español, Corral de Comedias de Alcalá, Institut Française Madrid); and Quieto todo el mundo (Matadero Madrid / Escena Contemporánea Festival). From 2010-2011, she also worked as companies coordinator with CASA Latin American Theatre Festival in London.
Isla received an MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths University of London in 2011. Previously, she graduated in History of Art at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Isla also completed research fellowships at the Academia de España in Rome and at Museo del Prado in Madrid, amongst others.
Miguel Oyarzun – co-director
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Miguel trained as an actor in Madrid. He then came to London where he studied physical theatre at LISPA. Stage credits in Spain include Miss Julie, The Shop Around the Corner and As You Like It. In England, he has performed for the CASA Latin-American Theatre Festival. Other stage credits include Up Side-Down, No Way Out, Pillow Talk and Babakas. He has also acted for film and TV in Spain, including Noviembre by Achero Mañas.
Miguel co-founded BE FESTIVAL in 2010 with Isla and Mike. he is artistic director of Mirage Teatro, founded in 2009 in Madrid. He co-wrote and performs in LÁZARO (National tour, Teatro Español, Corral de Comedias de Alcalá) and Quieto todo el mundo (Matadero Madrid / Escena Contemporánea Festival). In their last production Quijotadas, he wrote for and directed a group of African immigrants, drawing a parallel between their journeys to Europe and Don Quixote’s quest. Miguel combines his directing, playwright and acting career with leading theatre workshops internationally.
Sadie Newman – General Manager
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As the BE Festival General Manager Sadie is responsible for the development, implementation and management of the financial and operational structures and systems for BE FESTIVAL which support the directors, artistic programme and education work.
Sadie has over 15 years’ experience of working in administration and operations in the arts and cultural sector in the West Midlands, She has worked with BE since 2012, and recently, produced and toured Between The Two, her first studio work with Director Daniel Tyler. Sadie has worked at Warwick Arts Centre, Fierce! Festival Bright Space, and Creative Partnerships and The Public in West Bromwich. Sadie is a Trustee of Multistory in West Bromwich.
Sadie is a born organiser and has a history of enabling the smooth running of cultural organisational offices across the region.
Atxarte López de Munain – Senior Producer
Atxarte graduated in Fine Arts at the Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea and following her dance training she moved to London where she received an MA in Choreography by the LCDS after completing her Postgraduate Studies.
She has choreographed several dance pieces including K-T 83 2016, Higikaria 2009, Mobile behaviour 2007, Invisible Cities 2005. She joined the ACT FESTIVAL team in 2009 where she was the coordinator of the festival until 2015.
In 2013 she became a member of the board of ADDE (Association of Dance Professionals of the Basque Country) where she also coordinates the Online dance Works Catalogue and the Internationalization strand of the association. She collaborates with Arropaineko Arragua as member of the group developing the Project ESPAZIOA ETA GAUZAK / AZKUE IKASTOLA, where she also teaches movement.
She joined the BE FESTIVAL team in 2015 where she works as a Senior Festival Producer.
Ruth Harvey – Senior Producer
Ruth has twenty years experience in a diverse range of business and charity roles. She found a natural flair for fundraising whilst at Birmingham Cathedral, where she first met Sadie, and has since specialised in fundraising, development and production in the arts.
She has been coming to the festival since it was founded in 2010, and has been part of the team since 2016.
Ruth leads on fundraising, development and evaluation for the festival, and also works across marketing, communications and BE NEXT – our diverse youth theatre programme. She also works with a number of other Midlands based arts organisations.
Porl Cooper – Producer
Porl brings extensive experience to the team covering some 24 years in commercial theatre, subsidised repertory venues and large scale event work (primarily in stage & event management, producing and programming) and has worked on many technically complex and very demanding productions alongside highly respected creatives, professional and community companies. Having in-depth knowledge of current practice and contemporary companies, (new & emerging /mid- career) he lead the “Developed with The Lowry” initiative and co-founded the Routes North initiative with Annabel Turpin (ARC Stockton) and Iain Bloomfield (Theatre in the Mill Bradford) – which give emerging artists support, access to networks and facilitate new partnerships while demonstrating how smaller venues can work creatively and collaboratively.
Porl is also Associate Producer with Harrogate Theatre and Programmer for EnableUS at University of Sheffield.
Selina Losa – Producer
As one of the BE FESTIVAL producers Selina is responsible for facilitating relationships between artists and local residents, developing a sense of community, one of the main aims of BE.
After studying Theatre Design in Madrid and working in the costume department at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, she moved towards production using her skills as an enthusiastic communicator.
Selina is also an art & events organiser at MAIA group in Birmingham, working across the creative industries on artist- led research and production, culture-led regeneration and community building.
Catherine Butler – Communications Producer
Catherine joined the BE Team in 2017. As the communications producer, Catherine is a passionate advocate and promoter of the festival, and responsible for overseeing all marketing, press and communication.
When she is not working with BE FESTIVAL, Catherine balances her time between cultural producing and theatre-making. After graduating from the University of Birmingham in 2016, she formed part of the 2017 Cultural Internship Scheme based at Birmingham Hippodrome. Since then she has worked in a producing capacity with Sarah-Jane Watkinson on ‘The Death Show’ by Antonia Beck and Lucy Nicholls, SHOUT Festival, and on ‘Virilicus’ directed by Orit Assez, in association with Coventry Shop Front, with Birmingham REP, Theatre Absolute and Coventry Belgrade. She is one of the founding members and co-directors of theatre company LYNNEBEC.
Alexander Earle – Community Manager
Alexander has worked with BE FESTIVAL since 2013. Starting as a Technical Volunteer, over the years he immersed himself in many areas of the festival from filming to marketing and web design. In 2017 he officially joined the BE Team as Community Manager. The bulk of his time is spent overseeing all digital aspects of the festival, both online (social media, trailers etc) and offline (visual arts, filming shows, fixing the office printer…).
Outside of BE FESTIVAL Alex is a freelance creative. He enjoys the variety of creative avenues that he can pursue including film score composing, voice acting, game design, music production and acting.
Portfolio @ alexurl.com
Jess Barber – Volunteer Coordinator
Jessica is a Creative Freelancer based in the West Midlands with a varied history of work in the performing arts & creative industry. She has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Honours in Drama and Theatre Arts from University of Birmingham.
Since graduating, Jess has worked for Stagecoach Theatre Arts in Birmingham and works regularly as a Drama Facilitator creating workshops and collaborating with other educational arts groups. When she’s not working with BE FESTIVAL, Jess runs her own fitness classes (Fitsteps) and has recently started up her own theatre company which creates physical/movement theatre work.
Jack Ratcliffe – Web Designer
Jacktionman (Jack Ratcliffe) is a London-based artist who specialises in mixed-reality installations that playfully explore humanity’s relationship with technology.
Notable past exhibitions and performances include the Barbican (Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue), the British Library and the Rich Mix.
His most notable works include Teletortoise, in which anonymous internet users were able to remotely feed, water, and illuminate turtles, and Teasmate, where participants were challenged to make cups of tea by controlling an unfriendly robotic arm.
His portfolio website is available at jacktionman.win.
Pouvelle Studio – Designers
Pouvelle is a creative studio led by Javier González, Blanca Font and David Segade. We provide art direction, graphic design, illustration and mural paintings.
Elin Dowsett – Assistant Producer
Elin is currently studying for a Masters degree in Theatre Practice at The University Of Glasgow and spends most of her time making contemporary performance work.
Her professional background includes freelance technical and production work (Summerhall, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, mac Birmingham), and front of house/ box office and customer service roles (mac Birmingham, Axis Arts Centre).
Elin also has a passion for festivals, having volunteered for as many as possible over the years (SHOUT, Flatpack, On The Edge, Flare Weekender, Swingamajig).
Having volunteered for BE FESTIVAL since 2014, and been heavily involved in the festival’s aesthetics in previous years, Elin is over the moon to be joining the team this year as the Assistant Producer for HUB Design.