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We've been asking some of our Board Members to share a little bit about themselves, and how they got involved in Contact.

What does our board do?

head shots of contact board members

Our Board of Trustees don’t do the day-to-day running of Contact – that’s the staff team’s job! However, they do oversee our strategy and long-term plans. The Board is there to support, or sometimes challenge Contact’s direction. They come from a variety of backgrounds and provide a mix of viewpoints, and also act as advocates for our work.

So, here are some of Contact’s board members, profiled in their own words…

Afreena Islam

Occupation:  Artist and producer

What’s the best thing you think Contact has done?

For me personally…

It has been with me through thick and thin – through failing university, starting a theatre company, getting my first proper job in the arts, dancing my twenties away, creating a solo show, sending me to Brazil(!), making me a board member, being named as a future Northern Power Woman, with me when my dad died, with me when my children were born. It has kept my head above water, and above all, brought people into my life that are my best friends (shout out to Chelsea and Kailum who I met in CYC 2009, and Tuheen who I met in the bar one day – he wrote a message in my diary when I went to the toilet, I spent years trying to figure out who wrote it).

Gemma Gibb

Occupation: Head of Communications at the Science and Industry Museum and Associate Editor at Creative Tourist.

What’s the best thing you think Contact has done?

On stage I Told My Mum I was Going on an RE Trip (young people’s experiences of abortion) and CYC’s There is a Light (young people’s experiences of cancer) are examples of shows that are bloody good works of art (so good they get commissioned for national TV) and also create real social change (debates in Parliament on the issues they raise no less).

Off stage all the participatory programmes. Contact is about proper opportunity and skills for the future. I love that the current arts and cultural world is full of people whose lives have been shaped by Contact, now paying it forward too.

Josh Wilkinson

Board Member Josh Wilkinson

Occupation: Arts practitioner and facilitator

Which young person inspires you the most?

Samuel Remi-Akinwale. A young person and a friend, Sam and I started at The Agency the same year and what he has achieved since with his energy and passion is immense.

Kate Dorney

Occupation: Drama Lecturer

What’s the best thing Contact has done?

Introduced generations of young people to diverse work; encouraged generations of young people to make brilliant and diverse work.

Patrick Johnson

Occupation: University of Manchester’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Which young person inspires you the most?

There are a few who stand out like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai but for me personally my daughter is the most amazing person who is constantly making me reflect on the person I am.  She is my real inspiration.

Gráinne Flynn

Board Member Grainne Flynn

Occupation: Student/ Actor, Theatre-Maker and Facilitator

What made you get involved with Contact?

My friend was a member of Contact Young Company and invited me to watch her show in the theatre. The show was really interesting because each performer had a space to present themselves as artists from poets, dancers, musicians! Afterwards everyone stayed in the cafe space, it felt like a proper community of artists which made me want to get involved in Contact.

Jo Beggs

Occupation: Head of Development, Manchester Museums Partnership

What’s the best thing you think Contact has done?

Every time Contact engages a new young person and helps them find their voice I think it’s the best thing. But the fact that it keeps doing that, year in year out, giving so many people a chance, that’s the best thing.

Councillor Janet Emsley

Councillor Janet Emsley

Occupation: Councillor, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture at Rochdale Borough Council

What made you get involved with Contact?

As a teacher I used to bring my students to Contact to experience the amazing productions. As a politician I know I can make a difference in all sorts of ways for Contact and culture.

Steven Lindsay

Board member Steven Lindsay

Occupation: Chartered Accountant

Which young person inspires you the most?

All of those who have overcome restrictions in their lives to get on despite the obstacles.



Head to back to our Peoples Page for the full list of Board Members!