Hello, we are S.H.E.D. A flexible structure designed to engage, inspire & cultivate ideas & dialogue
Meet the team

Meet the team

S.H.E.D registered as a Community Interest Community in March 2020 – the University of Derby’s first spin out company. S.H.E.D is currently managed by three Directors:

Rhiannon Jones
CEO and Creative Director

Rhiannon is an Associate Professor (Civic) at the University of Derby where she leads the Civic Lab Research Cluster. She is a thought leader in Social and Design innovation and is chair of Cumulus: International Contemporary Working Art Group, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for New Art Exchange and resident artist at Primary Studios, Nottingham. Jones is a DerbyCAN steering group member, Stakeholder for Bolton Arts CIC and is a member of National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, UK lead partner for Design for Emergency project with DESIS and a regular member of the All Party Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group and her work is a case study for National Centre for Academic and Cultural Exchange on ‘place’.  

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She has also held the roles of Senior Comms Officer for the Strategic Heath Authority, NHS East of England, Producer for the Regional Language Network (SMEs Import and Export programme) and worked for UK Trade and Investment, and was General Manager for Third Angel Theatre Company.

In 2012, Jones co-founded InDialogue, a collaborative international research project that interrogates how artists and researchers use dialogue in their practice. InDialogue has curated four International Conferences, hosted three International residencies and supported over 600 artists since 2012 – from over 15 countries.   

Barend Slabbert
Design Director

Barend Slabbert is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Interior Design programme. Originally from South Africa, he has taught both in Cape Town and London before joining the University of Derby in 2017. He specialises in exhibition and stage-set design, and formed part of the design team for the 2015 World Expo in Milan in 2012. He has a special interest in the development of spatial narratives, and more specifically between spaces of different time periods, and the relationship between space and object.

Since the beginning of S.H.E.D, I was fascinated by the ethos, a space that can adapt and change to fit a variety of requirements, to help facilitate dialogues. Being part of the design and build team has been a wonderful experience so far, and incredibly rewarding to see how people interact and receive this space with each event. What I love most about S.H.E.D is the connections it helps to establish between people, by creating a network of creatives and allowing one to be part of a ‘family’.

Sarah Webb
Operations and Finance Director

When Sarah’s not busy working on S.H.E.D operations and finances, she’s working as Unlimited Theatre’s General Manager and a freelance bookkeeper. Unlimited Theatre is currently an Arts Council England NPO specialising in dissolving the boundaries between art and science through collaboration with leading scientists and technologists. Prior to this, Sarah was an intern with Third Angel, opened up a new event space at Harland Works and climbed the operational ranks at Sheffield’s independent cinema, Showroom Workstation. Over the last 7 years, Sarah has pocketed a wealth of experience in small-scale company management, accounting and project coordination.

The Director’s couldn’t do what they do without the rest of the trusty S.H.E.D team:

Simon Burrows
Master Builder

Simon has 25 years of cabinet making experience within his own business. He has fitted some of the most luxurious spaces in Nottingham and London with the most beautiful bespoke designs. Simon however, always wanted to pursue his affection for photography. He decided to go back to study and applied for a place at Nottingham Trent University to do a master’s degree in photography. He has successfully exhibited at 3 separate venues within Derby Format festival 2019 and also as part of the Bauhaus centenary in the Wallner Gallery at Lakeside Arts in Nottingham 2019. It was during the curation of the first year’s degree show that Simon’s practical skills were spotted and subsequently was asked to join the S.H.E.D. project. He has earned the title of “Master Builder” through the design and build of S.H.E.D and continues to be an active team member.

Harry Freestone
Installation Manager

Harry is a Midlands-based artist and freelance art technician. He is a resident artist at One Thoresby Street and Director of Gasleak Mountain, an artist led artspace and CIC in Nottingham. After studying a BA in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, Harry went on to not only explore his own art, but support artist exhibitions, residencies, shows and talks across across the Midlands and beyond. Harry’s work across Nottingham in spaces such as Backlit, New Art Exchange and Primary Studios led him to S.H.E.D (or us to him) and now he’s a vital member of our design and touring team.

Mark Hawkhead
Technical Assistant

Mark is a performance artist and technician based in Manchester. As a graduate of MMU’s Contemporary Theatre and Performance degree he has since become a part of the touring show, Concerto with Michael Pinchbeck, technician & dramaturg for Ryan O Shea’s solo show, I_Ran and was also a front of house volunteer at the Flare Festival in 2014 and 2015, performing with El Conde De Torrefiel as part of the 2014 event. Being a part of S.H.E.D has allowed Mark to hone in a plethora of skills such as stagecraft, video production, networking and problem solving and gave him the knowledge and skillset to help facilitate the Progress Performance’s 2019 Scratch night in Manchester. Mark is currently a supply teacher for schools in Manchester.

Ollie Smith
Technical Assistant / Producer

Ollie is a theatre maker based in Nottingham. He is co-director of contemporary performance partnership LaPelle’s Factory (CLOUDCUCKOOLANDERSDesperadoThe Black CatShuck) and makes work as half of Pinchbeck & Smith (SoloA Seventh ManAt the edge of the world). He is a theatre and performance lecturer at De Montfort University (Leicester) and the University of Lincoln, specialising in devised theatre, post dramatic performance and live art practices. Ollie first worked with S.H.E.D when co-directing the Pinchbeck & Smith site-based performance A Seventh Man (2019), which was created to be performed to limited capacity audiences inside S.H.E.D itself. He was then invited to join the team as a technical assistant to Master Builder Simon, before being asked if he was interested in programming and producing work for the space alongside Rhiannon and Sarah; an opportunity he enthusiastically embraced.

And our Stakeholders (or as we like to call them, Shedders):

Victoria Barker

Dr Victoria Barker has over 10 years’ experience in education, policy research and analysis, fundraising, and business development. Her academic research focuses on the cultural and creative industries, exploring the concept of the creative ecosystem and how this can influence policy and support to creative micro-enterprises. She is currently a Research Assistant at Coventry University on City of Culture and related creative economy projects, and also work as a consultant in the arts and culture sector, producing impact evaluations, marketing plans and audience engagement strategies. 

Victoria is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Trustee of Hubbub Theatre, an integrated ensemble of learning disabled and non disabled performers who create original and innovative theatre. Victoria has been involved with S.H.E.D from almost the beginning, as an evaluation adviser and more hands-on in the building and transporting of the physical S.H.E.D. She was our Business Development Director from Nov 2020 – Jun 2022.

Sam Girdham

Sam currently studies Applied Theatre and Education with Derby University at Masters level. She is also known professionally as Sam Beckett Jr and as a practitioner in theatre, is the lead artist of Purple Theatre. With Purple Theatre, Sam wrote two plays which toured in 2018 and 2019. She performed one and directed the other whilst also producing both shows. Two years ago, Sam took up post at the Century Theatre in North West Leicestershire as their venue manager and has been growing the artistic programme of the theatre. Her hope after the Masters is complete later this year is to establish a permanent outreach programme at the theatre which embodies the Applied Theatre ethos. She also hopes to begin a PhD in 2021. Sam’s other loves are poetry, which she has performed in various venues, dance (which she is terrible at) and sunbathing on the beach.

“SHED is conversating, illuminating, straight up facilitating
Talking, resolving, problem solving
In person or not, get involving
In the box, out the box, creative thinking
Open, closed or upside down, we are linking
People, places, all kinda different faces
Shedding: one day running the human races”

Trevor Jones

Trevor has worked in the creative industries for 40+ years. Starting as a management trainee at Selfridges he became an IP Licensing specialist. He has led domestic & international music, sport, celebrity, film, TV, publishing & branded projects for UK based Publishing companies, working with hundreds of IP owners including the likes of Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, Manchester United FC, Universal, Aardman Studios, BBC & ITV etc.. His experience covers an awareness of consumer trends, IP selection, product development, sourcing, marketing, talent liaison & contract negotiation. Published ranges have received many Awards & in 2009 Trevor was the recipient of an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the UK Licensing Industry. He was Fellow of the RSA 1990 – 2009 & director of T.R.A.P. (Rights Owners Against Piracy) a music merchandise anti-piracy organisation 2016 -2019.Chair of The Light Fund www.lightfund.org – the UK Licensing Industry’s registered fundraising charity that has raised over £1.6M since 2004 funding hundreds of charity projects. He is also Chair of the Character Exchange – an informal group of UK based companies who manufacture Licensed Character products such as apparel, gift, food, books & magazines.

“The first time I saw the “S.H.E.D effect” was at last year’s “This is Derby” event when a youth group started out very timidly, in the safe performance space, but soon became confident performers in front of the audience. #Shedding .”

Alix Manning-Jones

Alix is Local Area Programme Manager for Derby’s Opportunity Area. She works alongside the Department for Education Opportunity Area (OA) team, the OA Board and Derby City Council officers to ensure that the Derby OA programme drives and enables social mobility through measurable, tangible outcomes, with local responsibility for robust programme management, budget monitoring, financial procedures and procurement arrangements.

Alix leads on youth voice and the development of Derby OA’s legacy and sustainability plans, to ensure that sustainable educational improvement continues across in the city and the intended outputs and impacts and are sustainable beyond the lifetime of the programme span, making appropriate links with the wider landscape

“My involvement in S.H.E.D has opened so many exciting and creative opportunities for the young local artists in Derby as well as many young people to have their voices heard. Working alongside the S.H.E.D team and supporting their work is a real honour. Their passion and commitment in terms of their innovation, progression and dedication to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups of young people is beyond anything I have experienced before.”

Professor Keith McLay

Keith is the Pro Vice-Chancellor/Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at the University of Derby. Keith joined the University in January 2018 from Canterbury Christ Church University where he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities while prior to that appointment he served successively as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Chester.  An early modern military and naval historian of Britain and Europe who has published on war and warfare from the 17th to the 20th centuries, Keith holds an MA and PhD from the University of Glasgow, an MSc from the London School of Economics & Political Science and an Executive MBA from the University of Edinburgh. 

“I’m passionate about the S.H.E.D because as a historian I believe narratives, their telling and retelling, are central to our understanding of place and self and S.H.E.D provides a flexible, engaging and collegiate space to foster conversations, stories, tales and narratives amongst the widest range of participants.”

Ruchita Shaikh

Formally trained visual artist, Ruchita Shaikh, is the CEO of Artcore, a rapidly developing international centre for contemporary art delivering a vibrant programme of cultural and creative activity for Artists and the community. Artcore is passionate about creating a positive social impact regionally and internationally. She is appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Derbyshire and is the Chair of Community Action Derby.

Ruchita is passionate about increasing cultural representation for ethnically diverse and under-represented groups in our communities, creating opportunities for influence, growth, learning and participation. She increases awareness through her leadership involvement in a range of arts, community and local governance organisations. As an ethnically diverse female, Ruchita is relatable to the communities Artcore serves, she understands the invisible barriers and boundaries of the cultural landscapes, the challenges within them and influences stakeholders to generate change, insight, understanding and commitment to improve opportunities for all. Ruchita is an experienced change leader, confident facilitator and speaker.

The S.H.E.D project is a really fantastic opportunity where it bridges the gap between the arts and higher education.

Jennifer Spencer

Jennifer is a freelance management consultant with a particular interest and expertise in arts driven cultural tourism. Her background is wide and varied having over the course of her career worked in the pharmaceutical, education and tourism sectors. Based in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire she has worked at a senior level across both counties for the last decade. Jennifer is a Deputy Chair of both the National Justice Museum and New Art Exchange as well as being a trustee and board member at Buxton Crescent Trust. She is also on the fund-raising board of Maggie’s at then City Hospital Nottingham.

“S.H.E.D……has a very comprehensive plan and I’m excited to learn more going forward.”

Will Turner

Will is Community Manager at Port Vale Foundation Trust, recently moving on from his role as Business Development Manager at Derby County Community Trust. Will brings extensive experience in strategy development and implementation, strategic partnerships, income generation and evaluation. He has worked with a wide variety of commercial, commissioning and community partners. Will was previously Director at Sporting Futures, best known for the Derby 10k for 3 years prior to moving to DCCT. Will led Sporting Futures through its most significant period of change in its 20-year history, transforming and modernising the business model, driving innovative working practice and adapting the organisation to meet new challenges. DCCT vested Sporting Futures into its operation in 2017 and since then the work now under the community trust continues to thrive. Will is passionate about helping people and using the power of sport, arts and music to transform lives and to better connect people and their community.

“The S.H.E.D project is a fantastic concept and something that really excites me, I am fascinated by people and the way they connect and interact with each other. I have seen the S.H.E.D in action at the This is Derby Event in July 2019 and saw how powerful it was as a tool to get people talking, engaging and expressing themselves.”

Fabienne Williams

Fabienne is Digital and Content Lead at Ravensbourne University managing a team to oversee all content for the University. She worked at Nickelodeon as Shared Assets Manager and was TV producer for HSBC delivering strategic programmes through the TV channel in support of the business strategy. Providing expertise to ensure consistently high-quality TV across stakeholder groups. She is also a DJ performing in the UK and Internationally for Argentine Tango and is also a trained Argentine Tango dancer.

Our thanks also goes to our Shedder alumni:

Ben Anderson – Stakeholder May 2020 – March 2022. Creative and Executive Director at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre, Ben is an art professional, with extensive experience in artist development, large-scale project delivery and budget management, festival management, tour booking, fundraising/development, programming. “It’s been amazing to see S.H.E.D at every stage from initial design, to the launch event, to the various locations it’s toured to and art it’s been home to since. My S.H.E.D memory is moving it from the market place in Derby to Derby Theatre ready for Departure Lounge at midnight and realising just how this crazy idea became something real.”

Sandra Booth – Stakeholder May 2020 – Feb 2022. Director of Policy and External Relations at CHEAD the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design. “The S.H.E.D project to me is a compelling collective endeavour, demonstrating innovation and passion in inclusive community arts participation, underpinned by an academically robust and ever evolving significant methodology.”

Professor David McGravie – Stakeholder May 2020 – March 2022. During his time as a stakeholder for S.H.E.D, David was the Head of the School of Arts and Deputy Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at the University of Derby. “I am strong advocate for S.H.E.D – full stop. Or rather, three full stops! S.H.E.D (or to give its grander nomenclature ‘Social Higher Education Depot’) is simple in its aim but far more significant that its simple structure suggests. Look beyond the shiplap and supporting cross members and you will see a significance that belies its simple timber frame. By looking deeper, you will start to understand its role and function as a flexible venue that offers a place to discuss and engage in meaningful dialogue. Its flexibility and configuration appeals to me as a designer and its ambition is admirable.”