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About us & our impact

DreamArts uses the arts to enable young people to realise their potential.

We work with young people in London aged 7-25 to empower and inspire them to form stronger connections with each other, their families and build a greater sense of community. Our projects uncover and nurture their talents, whether in performance, multi media, or all-important life skills such as leadership and communication, with many going on to a career in the arts thanks to our links with London’s creative industries.

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Our Impact

Young people achieve a range of creative and life skills through being part of DreamArts.

Our Impact

Meet Our Team

DreamArts is an agile and lean organisation; a small, experienced team consistently generates innovative ideas that are both proactive and responsive to the needs of inner city youth.

Our core team are all directly involved in developing, managing and delivering our work.

Graham Whitlock

Graham Whitlock

Chief Executive

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Anne-Marie Reid Cofie

Anne-Marie Reid-Cofie

Programme Director

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David Shopland

Experiment Project Producer

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Janine Francois

Project Manager - Carer's Express

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Graham Whitlock

Graham Whitlock

Chief Executive

020 3176 6766

07930 606 210

graham@dreamarts.org.uk

Graham helped found DreamArts, which grew from work he was involved with as a student at Pimlico School. A qualified Youth Arts Practitioner (WAC/Goldsmiths) and youth worker, Graham has spent two decades developing creative projects for young people. This include leading DreamArts’ Street 2 Stage New Musical Programme as a writer, director and facilitator for productions including Carnival – The Musical (Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre) and Can You Live Without it? (Cochrane Theatre). Graham trained in directing with Katie Mitchell, and his skills as a leadership trainer have been commissioned by University of the Arts, London, Arts Award, and Arts Council England.

Graham was a founder and Director of SouthWestFest which grew to become Westminster’s biggest arts and community Festival. His writing credits include the book and lyrics for the UK’s first promenade musical based on the classic Ealing Studio comedy Passport to Pimlico, which received 5-star reviews and is being further developed with Hackney Empire.

Anne-Marie Reid Cofie

Anne-Marie Reid-Cofie

Programme Director

020 3176 6766

07984 463 405

annemarie@dreamarts.org.uk

As a Dancer/Dance Teacher specialising African, Caribbean and Contemporary forms, her national and international theatre credits include: Paradigmz’s LDDT – London Diaspora Dance, Sheba Monserrat Productions, Muraldo DC, Stormforce, Patti Boulaye, Brekete and Frititi. TV credits: The Generation Game, Sir Paul McCartney music video.

Anne-Marie is a qualified (BACP) Child Counsellor with a social care, youth work and management background. Her roles/experiences include: Residential Social work, Creative and Therapeutic Youth Arts Practice, Resettlement work, Strengthen Families Strengthening Communities Facilitation. She provides psychological and emotional support to children, young people and families using various arts forms, on a 1:1, parent-child and group work basis. She specialises in developing work that empowers young people at risk. Anne-Marie’s work has won an Intranet Award for making the internet a safer place and has been cited as best practice by the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport.

David Shopland

Experiment Project Producer

020 3176 6766

07951 109 727

david@dreamarts.org.uk

David has joined the DreamArts team as Project Producer of Experiment.

David is a producer/director with over a decade of experience. He has produced over 40 professional productions on 3 continents, from West End venues to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2011 David set up Blind Tiger Theatre, an actor musician company whose productions include the 2013 Riverside Studios Christmas show ‘The Little Mermaid’, which received a 4 star review in The Daily Telegraph. In 2013, David set up Fake Escape Theatre, a company that champions new writing initiatives working with underrepresented demographics aged under 30. As a freelance producer, David has worked with Trafalgar Studios in The West End, Bath Fringe Festival, Bristol Pride and The National Theatre of China. As a freelance arts facilitator, David has worked with City of Bath College, Eton College, Prior Park College, and Boden’s Theatre School. David has also lectured in theatre at Bath Spa University and Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.

Janine Francois

Project Manager - Carer's Express

Janine has joined the DreamArts teams as the Project Manager for Carers Express.

Janine is Youth Arts Practitioner who practice specialises in fashion, textiles and making, with a keen interest on using old and recyclable materials. Her artistic practice also extends to embodied learning and methodologies borrowed from Theatre of the Oppressed and as a Cultural Producer she has worked with: Lyric Hammersmith, Shonibare Studios, INiVA, 198 Gallery and South Bank Centre to name but a few. She is interested in the intersections of art, activism and academia and how this shapes pedagogies for social justice and she currently teaches at University of the Arts within their Cultural and Historical studies programme. Janine is currently pursuing doctoral research, with the University of Bedfordshire and Tate, investigating if ‘Tate can be a safe space to discuss race, culture and difference within a teaching and learning context?’

Our sessional team consists of leading creative professionals, experienced facilitators, therapeutic arts practitioners, and gifted support workers.

Natasha Zacher

Outreach Co-ordinator / Lead Support Practitioner

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Abby Gacenia

Multi Media Facilitator

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Lynieve Austin

Music & Vocal Facilitator

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Maeve Malley Ryan

Director - Experiment Saturday Creative Lab

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Kulraj Thethy

Kulraj Thethy

Director - Experiment Sunday Creative Lab

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Chi-San Howard

Dance Facilitator

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Maia Watkins

Support Practitioner

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Natasha Zacher

Outreach Co-ordinator / Lead Support Practitioner

natasha@dreamarts.org.uk

Natasha is a Canadian actor, deviser, facilitator and producer now living in London. She has worked with a number of arts education organizations in Western Canada, including Quest Theatre (Calgary) and Gateway Theatre (Vancouver), and has also facilitated therapeutic arts projects with Ronald McDonald House. In London, she is currently an Artistic Staff member at Chickenshed Theatre and she is currently completing her MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy.  She is delighted to be joining the team at DreamArts!

Abby Gacenia

Multi Media Facilitator

Abbey is an artist, photographer, videographer, dancer and jeweller.  She developed many of her extensive creative skills as a young person working with DreamArts, and ran her first project as part of our Youth Arts Leadership Scheme.   She has since become a core member of our Express Collective programme, empowering young people ranging from young women at risk of sexual exploitation to boys living on severely deprived estates.

Lynieve Austin

Music & Vocal Facilitator

Lynieve is the Music and Vocal Facilitator for the Experiment Sunday Creative Lab. Trained at WAC performing Arts College and Stanmore College studying performing arts, her studies were interrupted when Lynieve was signed to the WEA record label with her first band ‘Reach’. She has been support act to Curtis Mayfield, the Fatback Band and Alexander O’Neil. Later she toured with ‘M People’ as a backing vocalist and traveled Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Europe, America, Brazil; performances include ‘Later with Jools Holland’, ‘Smash Hits Awards’, ‘Top of the pops. At Euro ’96 shared the stage with ‘Simply Red’ & ‘Madness’.

As vocal coach she has worked for Mouse Trap Theatre Projects, DreamArts, The Foyer, Imagine Create Express, WAC Performing Arts College. As head of her own company Much Fruit Productions she provides One – 2 – One and Group Sessions, Grades, Artist Development, Live Music for Events Choirs, Workshops for Churches, Schools and Colleges and deliver Corporate Team Building Training in most London boroughs.

Maeve Malley Ryan

Director - Experiment Saturday Creative Lab

Maeve is the Director for the Experiment Saturday Creative Lab. She is a founder-member of one of the UK’s most successful longform improvisation troupes ‘Upstairs Downton’, and shortform group ‘LadyProv’. As a drama facilitator, Maeve has worked with Shakespeare Schools Festival, Almeida Theatre Outreach, Helen O’Grady Drama, Stagecoach Theatre Arts, The Hunt Academy Youth Arts, North London Schools Network, Scott Wiseman Youth Theatre, and for the TfL schools liaison programme.

Acting credits include Peter James’ ‘The Perfect Murder’ (UK Tour), The Sea of Souls (Caribbean Tour), The Time of Your Life (Finborough Theatre; Icarus), Dance Hall Days (Riverside Studios), Under Which Flag? (Irish Repertory Theatre UK). Film: ’28 Weeks Later’ and ‘Viral’. Television: Lewis (ITV/Granada). Radio includes The Family Project by Steve Waters (BBC Radio 2).

Maeve trained at Arts Educational, London; and has a BA in English, Sociology and Politics, and an MA in Drama and Theatre Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Kulraj Thethy

Kulraj Thethy

Director - Experiment Sunday Creative Lab

Kulraj is the Director for Experiment Sunday Creative Lab.

Kulraj began his journey with DreamArts as a university placement student from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where he obtained his Bachelor degree honour in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education.

In addition, he founded a theatre company in his local area for which he runs youth theatre sessions, schools and community based workshops, one-to-one sessions with young children suffering from severe illnesses. Kulraj also writes, directs and acts in shows.

His aim is to use the arts as a way to help strengthen and develop communities and to achieve this Kulraj hopes to shortly embark on further studies to become a Drama Therapist.

Chi-San Howard

Dance Facilitator

Chi-San trained in Movement at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

She began her career in movement with the award winning immersive theatre company Belt Up Theatre as their company choreographer. She then went on to co-found her own theatre company, Youaremine. which is supported by Theatre Delicatessen.

Chi-San regularly works as a facilitator for charities supporting migrant women building confidence and public speaking skills. She has taught at St Mary’s Twickenham and is currently a Movement Tutor at the Identity School of Acting. As a Movement Director Chi-San has worked on productions at the Southwark Playhouse, Minack Theatre, Welsh National Opera, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Finborough Theatre

Maia Watkins

Support Practitioner

Maia studied at Brunel University and has a degree in Drama, Film and Television and an MA in Acting where she trained at Drama Centre London.

Acting credits include 3X Winner of The Monologue Slam UK (Theatre Royal Stratford East), Marley’s Ghost (ITV Gold), The Fall (BFI) In the Robot Skies (BFI/Channel 4). Maia also writes and produces her own short films which have been successful in film festivals.

She has worked with the Full House Theatre and Little Fish Theatre Company doing workshops and plays for young offenders, PRU students and secondary schools in and out of London. Maia also worked for Westminster Play Centre Service for 8 years assisting young people from all backgrounds including SEN students with group activities within a play scheme, homework clubs and residentials. Maia has worked as a volunteer mentor to help raise self-esteem and confidence for young people in London

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Our active Board regularly meet, visit projects, and develop DreamArts using their impressive range of skills which include; therapeutic practice, the creative industries, law, finance, governance, teaching, fundraising, and PR and marketing.

Nick Deeming

Chair

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Asif Raniwala

Asif Raniwala

Treasurer

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Trustee - Vicky Hawkins

Vicky Hawkins

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Naomi Roper

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Ian Dougal

Secretary

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Toni Medcalf

Toni Medcalf

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Jodie Dalmeda

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Elsa Madrolle

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John-Paul Cherrington

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Nick Deeming

Chair

Nick joined Dreamarts in July 2015 as chairman. He has over 25 years of business experience working working across a number of different sectors and internationally and he is also a solicitor so he brings a wealth of business and legal experience. He is committed to building on the success that DreamArts currently is. Nick now has a number of non executive roles and believes strongly that business through its social contract has a much greater role to play in society with much greater support for community based charities like DreamArts. In Nick’s words, Dreamarts is a small charity but it punches well above its weight and he is very proud to be part of it’

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Asif Raniwala

Asif Raniwala

Treasurer

Asif is a qualified Chartered Accountant with 18 years of experience.  Having qualified with Andersen and Deloitte and worked with charity clients, he went on to work within their real estate and hospitality department in both Audit and Private Equity Transaction Support. Since 2005, Asif set up his own accountancy practice.  The practice is an all round accountancy firm and in addition to undertaking audits, Asif specializes in owner managed businesses,  advising on corporate finance and real estate transactions thus bringing a wealth of business experience.

Asif is committed to DreamArts as he has a passion for helping the youth succeed in an evermore challenging environment.  “Having been the independent accountant for the charity for a number of years, I am now delighted to be a trustee and someone who can help shape the future of this amazing organization”.

Trustee - Vicky Hawkins

Vicky Hawkins

Vicky currently works for the Ambassador Theatre Group as General Manager within the production department, looking after a wide variety of shows including musicals, plays, West End and tours. She previously worked for the Really Useful Group and Clear Channel Entertainment.

‘I joined DreamArts after a conversation with Graham Whitlock, who I first met when we were both studying at Leeds University. It sounded like a great opportunity to combine my theatre background with a charity that really made a difference for young people in Central London – and I have very much enjoyed my time as a trustee so far.

For DreamArts I primarily help with events, particularly the annual gala which has taken place in an ATG theatre for the past three years. I am also interested in helping to expand the profile and funds of the charity, as well as being an enthusiastic swimmer for our sponsored events’.

Naomi Roper

Naomi brings to the Board fourteen years of senior fundraising management experience – mainly within inner London charities focusing on youth and community development. She was a co-founder of SouthWestFest (South Westminster’s largest community festival), along with Graham Whitlock, and has admired the work of Dream Arts for many years.

Naomi has a strong interest in both the arts and advocating for young people, and a long held belief in the importance of the arts as therapy. ‘I am delighted to have joined the DreamArts Board and hope to introduce their fantastic work to a number of new funders and supporters to provide creative, empowering and transformative opportunities to hundreds more young people in Westminster.’

Ian Dougal

Secretary

Ian has a senior post in the Cabinet Office.  Ian has also been Trustee of Volunteer Centre Westminster and helped oversee its merger with Voluntary Action Westminster to form One Westminster which is now the umbrella agency for volunteering and voluntary organisations in the borough.

‘DreamArts has given me the opportunity to help the community around my place of work. I was impressed by the range of arts that young people were able to access and the encouragement and support they receive and the impact that has on their confidence.  I benefited from being involved in music when I was growing up and I want to be able to give something back so that young people today can have the same opportunities I benefited from’.

Toni Medcalf

Toni Medcalf

An integrative psychotherapist, Toni  runs the Schools Counselling Partnership which provides therapeutic support to children, parents and staff in 17 schools across London.   During her training she worked for two years at the Brit School for Performing Arts and prior to that ran her own music management company and worked for a major record label.  Toni’s expertise and passion for combining a creative and therapeutic approach to unlocking young people’s potential will greatly enhance DreamArts;

‘I feel that both my therapeutic experience and music industry experience would be beneficial to DreamArts and love the opportunity to be part of such an inspiring company and give young people opportunities to flourish and tell their stories’.

Jodie Dalmeda

Jodie Dalmeda is a Media and Celebrity Ambassador Engagement Consultant. She has a wealth of experience working with non-profits such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, The Rush Arts Philanthropic Foundation and the United Nations, and global brands in entertainment (MTV, Sony Music, BMG, Orange) documentary film (Virunga, The Price of Kings) and fashion (Top Shop, Moschino), engaging high profile brand ambassadors and delivering innovative media strategies. Previously Jodie worked for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Foundation, Virgin Unite, as Head of Media and Artist Management and was formerly Head of Press at Sony Music. Passionate about people and culture she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Specialist Business Advisor for The Prince’s Trust.

‘Dream Arts is an inspirational charity and I’m proud to be a part of such a dedicated team. My experience will enable me to help communicate the great work they do and amplify the voices of young people.’

Elsa Madrolle

I have worked in the City of London for over 15 years in a variety of international business development roles. Prior to this professional experience I also received formal theatrical training at the prestigious Cours Florent in Paris. I have balanced a busy career in financial services with occasional stage performance through the years by participating in several hedge fund charity concerts as lead singer of rock bands made up of industry counterparts.

I was delighted to discover the work that DreamArts undertakes in Westminster as I know firsthand the significant impact that an artistic outlet can have on children’s confidence and development particularly when they are faced a challenging home or school environment. I joined DreamArts at a pivotal time as public funding of arts programmes has become more challenging than ever. In joining the Board of DreamArts I aim to raise their profile within my industry to ensure that they are able to continue to do the very important work they do for this small community.

John-Paul Cherrington

John Paul Cherrington has combined work as a theatre director with education work for 20 years. He has directed productions that have been seen across the UK, in Europe and Asia.  Throughout his career he has worked alongside young people – writing and directing national touring productions of Horrible Histories; producing schools touring productions with his company Dramatic Attic; and training young people from economically challenged areas at schools, colleges and universities in London, Birmingham Yorkshire and Manchester.

‘I have first-hand experience of how access to good quality arts training can transform and inspire young people. I’m impressed by the commitment, dedication and quality of the DreamArts team and am looking forward to helping them increase their reach and impact.’

Our History

The arts can change lives. DreamArts demonstrates this time and again.

Since 1999 our outreach projects have supported thousands of young people.

Our work grew out of a transformative arts programme run by Liz York at Pimlico Youth Project in the ’80s and ’90s. A student at Pimlico School, Graham Whitlock, benefited from Liz’s work, and after graduating helped Liz set up a charity to take her work across Westminster. They named the charity DreamArts. When Liz lost her battle with cancer in 1998, Graham took on building DreamArts to fulfil her vision of offering young people across Westminster the chance to creatively express themselves.

Nowhere is London’s division of wealth and poverty clearer than in Westminster, where in some wards 78% of children live in poverty. They may have the West End on their doorstep, but very few benefit from living at the heart of the UK’s creative industries. DreamArts builds bridges for children and young people, empowering them to twice present their own musicals at The Royal Opera House; run national award-winning online campaigns; and display their achievements to their local community.

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Our Partners

Partnerships play an important role in supporting our work and giving our members access to state-of-the-art facilities and experienced creatives.

  • The Cockpit
  • City of Westminster
  • Pimlico Academy
  • City of Westminster College

Support Us

In making a difference.

Every year DreamArts makes a genuine difference to the lives of over 300+ young people. Help us continue by supporting our work with your time, talent, contacts or spare cash.

Support Our Work