Julie McNamara is Artistic Director of Vital Xposure, one of UK’s leading disability led touring theatre companies within Arts Council England’s national portfolio. She is a Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Victorian College of the Arts and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne.
As both an artist and activist, she is a leading voice in Disability Arts on international stages. Her work is driven by social justice with a life long preoccupation with creating platforms for excluded voices from the political periphery. Her particular interests are in discourses of madness and voices from locked-in spaces. She is an award winning playwright (Unlimited Award 2014, Southbank Show Award 2010, ITV / DaDa Writers 2009, Peabody Award for documentary 2000). In 2015 she was one of four national artists commissioned by Research Centre for Museums and Galleries for Exceptional and Extraordinary, Unruly Bodies and Minds in the Medical Museum. Her work is widely published in poetry anthologies and non-fiction discourses on Disability and Mental Health. She has a substantial theatre production history both in the UK and on international stages (Australia; Canada, New Zealand and Ireland) She has an extensive record of international mentorships in UK, Ireland, Canada and South Australia. Recent work includes the award winning documentary: Voices from the Knitting Circle, the extraordinary love letter to life itself – Let Me Stay, created alongside her Mother with Alzheimer’s and two sell out tours of The Butch Monologues by Laura Bridgeman.
Isobel Hawson is a freelance theatre producer, consultant and Director of On Tour Ltd., a national and international arts consultancy. She has worked in theatre for many years, both in England and overseas. She has set up bursaries, international exchanges, provides mentoring support and advises companies on their creative, infrastructural and touring developments.
As a Senior Officer at Arts Council England she led on the strategic and policy development of cultural diversity and theatre, young people’s theatre, audience development and the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) funded national programme, to develop young people’s participatory theatre practice.
As a Producer, in recent years, Isobel has worked on Dervish’s acclaimed production The Crows Plucked Your Sinews (nomination Alfred Fagon Award 2016), written by Hassan Mahamdallie, which toured nationally and to Grahamstown Arts Festival, South Africa; Inside Out Of Minde (ACE Strategic Touring), a collaboration between Meeting Ground Theatre Company, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham. (Finalist National Lottery Awards 2015 (Best Arts Award); fingersmiths’ productions of Bryony Lavery’s Frozen and John Godber’s Up ’n’ Under (finalist Signature Awards 2018 – Community Spirit Category).
Isobel is currently producing Mashi Theatre’s Stripey Honey…Is Very Yummy! a new commission for young people aged 5+, touring in Spring 2019.
She is Strategic Associate at 20 Stories High, whose award winning professional and participatory work with and for young people, tours regionally and nationally. She also works with Kali Theatre and with Giants Theatre Company.
A London based arts and cultural manager with a focus on barrier-free environments, inclusive practices and cultural crossings.
Her professional background includes work in disability-led art companies and collaborations with independent artists as a freelance producer and access adviser.
In previous roles she consulted arts organisations on how to embed inclusive practices across their operations and undertook broader project management work for UK and cross-European programmes on inclusive design and accessible tourism. She has worked for the Finger and Thumb Theatre Company (Shadowgraphy), Shape, filmpro limited and the Centre for Accessible Environments.
In 2010 she initiated two pioneering projects to actively promote disability awareness in Greece, particularly for D/deaf audiences, and increase visibility of the Greek Sign Language. The first one was a collaboration between D/deaf and hearing young people who created a fun short film in both spoken and sign language (‘Shhh…A Fairy Tale’). The second one was the introduction and development of deaf accessibility for a multi-sensory touring exhibition (‘Myrtis: Face to Face With The Past’) which was the first public exhibition in the country to include Greek and International Sign Languages.
In 2014 she embarked on a new arts project as transforming a small studio in Hoxton, East London, into a gallery once a month. The events have showcased an incredible array of disabled and non-disabled artists, who presented a variety of film, music, video installations and live art.
She’s passionate about equality, fairness and social justice; she has regularly volunteered for Cleanbreak Theatre Company, who bring hidden stories of imprisoned women to a wider audience, and for Hackney Winter Night Shelter.