Blaze began in 2009 as an ambitious cultural project that would later be part of WE PLAY, the North West cultural legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A huge part of the programme was for a group of 30 young festival producers to organise and programme Blaze Festival 2012.
When the Olympic Games came to an end a small team of Festival Producers had been given the skills, ambition and vision to carry it forward due to the commitment of staff members. They helped to establish the project and delegate responsibilities to the young people with support from Lancashire County Council and Curious Minds.
Today, Blaze is a registered charity and is going from strength to strength in supporting the next generation of creative producers.
Meet the Team
Matt is a musician and Director of Blaze. Matt leads on strategy, vision and fundraising for Blaze. In the role, Matt has empowered young people to develop transferable models for co-production and influenced best practice across the arts sector.
As a musician, Matt has performed and produced for major label-signed artists, with recent performances at festivals including Parklife, Leeds & Reading and the Great Escape. Matt is on the Board of the Bridgewater Hall and Brighter Sound and has most recently began the Clore Fellowship.
Hannah Whitlow, Programmes Producer
Since graduating in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent in 2012, Hannah has developed a portfolio career as an artist and workshop facilitator. Hannah now works full time for Blaze as the Programme Producer, taking the lead on creating project opportunities for young producers.
Meet the Trustees
A qualified teacher and CEO of Curious Minds, Derri previously worked for Bolton Council’s Educational Improvement Service where she was responsible for leading a number of high profile school improvement initiatives including: Find Your Talent, Inspiring Communities, Bolton UFA and Sunflower Clubs.
Derri is a ‘sandgrown-un’ Lancashire Lass with Irish roots. School wasn’t her favourite place as a child but despite this (or likely because of it) she is passionate about improving learning outcomes for all children, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Originally from Preston and currently studying Business Management at Liverpool University, Jasleen has a background in Libraries and Museums. She has worked with the Harris in Preston to deliver events for children and young people: ranging from music concerts to comic cons. Her aim is to break the stigma behind libraries and encourage more young people to use their space.
Jasleen currently works with Hewlett Packard Enterprise on their campaigns and communications which enables her to continually develop skills in producing events and global marketing strategies.
Adem is a Relationship Manager (Music) at Arts Council England & Music Curator at the Horniman Museum & Gardens.
Having been responsible for talent development programmes, live music festivals, tours and gigs all championing the best in contemporary new music, Adem specialises in the artistic and professional ambitions of emerging artists, predominately within UK Jazz, Afrobeat, Electronic and R&B music.
Charlie Morrison is Executive Director at Walk the Plank, a specialist in outdoor arts – including major events, fireworks, parades, sculpture and festivals.
His career in culture has specialised in the operational, particularly finance, organisational management, strategy, and marketing.
He’s worked as a professional musician and completed the Clore Fellowship in 2012.
Azraa Motala is a North-West based artist and recent graduate from the MA Fine Art program at the Chelsea College of Arts where she was awarded the Hoyland scholarship.
In 2014, she graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a first class BA honours degree in Fine Art. Azraa was recently a finalist for the UK Young Artist of the Year Award in partnership with Saatchi Gallery and has exhibited work nationally in solo and group exhibitions.
Since graduating with a BA in Performing Arts, Sara has developed a career as a socially engaged artist, creative producer and programme director that spans 25 years.
She has worked across artistic mediums that include theatre, dance, music, film, photography, installation and interactive digital technologies with a diverse range of organisations, communities and people. She is passionate about developing the next generation of creative producers and as a director of Blaze from 2009 to 2013 is delighted to be a Blaze trustee.
Over the last 20 years Guy has honed his skills and passion for managing and facilitating arts participation initiatives through his roles as Participation Manager, Creative Learning Director, Associate Director for Participation and most recently Chief Executive.
Guy fundamentally believes that participatory practice in high quality arts has the power to positively change peoples’ lives. In 2015 Guy co-founded Lancashire Youth Challenge, a grass roots creative arts, education and sports charity which engages vulnerable young people to achieve significant personal success.
Rebecca is passionate about helping young people reach their full potential and access opportunities in the Arts sector. Rebecca’s experiences are in Marketing, Youth Work and Leadership.
Russell has over 20 years working in arts and culture for local authorities, education and the independent arts sector.
He is passionate about giving arts opportunities to a wide range of people and helping unleash the creative potential of young people. He has been invoved in Blaze from the very beginning. He currently works as an Investment Manager for the National Lottery Heritage Fund.