Speakers and Contributors

An incredible array of arts professionals have spoken at THIS IS IT! events, sharing their knowledge and experiences of the creative industries.

Mike Smith, President of Music at Virgin EMI

All-0038President of Music at Virgin EMI, Records. Mike Smith started as an A&R man and has signed Blur, PJ Harvey, Elastica, Supergrass, Teenage Fan Club, Doves, Starsailor, The Beta Band, The Avalanches, Gorillaz, The White Stripes, The Libertines, The Scissor Sisters, The Arcade Fire, and Arctic Monkeys. He was previously Managing Director of Columbia Records and President of Mercury Music.

Mike spoke at THIS IS IT! London at Sadler’s Wells, and at The Engine Shed, Bristol.


Geoff Barrow

Geoff is a music producer, composer, DJ and musician.


He achieved critical success with the Bristol-based band Portishead, and has since worked with artists such as Primal Scream, Paul Weller and Depeche Mode, along with founding his own record label Invada Records. He was the Music Supervisor on the Banksy film Exit Through the Gift Shop, and curated the Festival Inada Invasion through his label.


Sabrina Mahfouz

Sabrina writes plays, poems, films, articles and stories. She produces workshops, theatre and events with the aims of making the arts more accessible for all and creating awareness of social issues through creative engagement.


Her creative work has been recognized with a number of awards.  Most recently, these include receiving the 2013 Sky Arts Futures Fund Award; an Old Vic New Voices Underbelly Edinburgh Award; a UK Young Artists Award; The Stage Award for Best Solo Performance; an Old Vic New Voices TS Eliot Award and a Westminster Prize for New Playwrights. Her first book, The Clean Collection, is available from Bloomsbury.


Sarah Cox

is a multi award-winning animator and producer, who works for Aardman Animations


As well as working with Aardman, she set up ArthurCox Animation with Sally Arthur in 2002. Using a combination of Live Action and Animation , they work closely with Aardman Animation for commercials and branded content. She directed The Tate Movie Project for Aardman, which has won numerous awards including a Children’s BAFTA.


Fiona Gasper

Fiona is the Executive Director of the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre.


She was also Executive Producer of Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture programme (2004-2009) and Executive Producer for Contact, Manchester’s theatre for young people. Fiona has worked in the cultural sector around the UK for the past 25 years in a range of full time roles and as a freelance consultant. She was awarded an MBE for services to the Arts in June 2009.


Matt Lacey

Matt is an actor, writer and comedian currently performing his debut one man show at the Edinburgh Festival. 


He has previously performed live and on the internet with sketch group The Unexpected Items and can be seen between shows on Comedy Central dressed as the Royal Baby. He is also the author of the Gap Yah Plannah based on the character he created for a popular internet sketch.

Matt performed his sketch “Intahnshup” at THIS IS IT! London at Sadler’s Wells in November 2013


Jonny Mundey

Jonny has worked for the The British Council and The Creative Society.


As a freelance researcher he founded Office of Cultural Construction, a consultancy interested in the social agency of the arts. He is co-founder of IF, a project offering free humanities courses to young people priced out of today’s higher education market. He plays in two bands.



Alec Dudson

After belatedly finding his calling at the ripe old age of 27, Alec Dudson left his bar job behind him and set out on a mission to work in the independent magazine industry.


Following internships with Domus in Milan and Boat in London, he decided in 2013 to launch Intern, a bi-annual print magazine concerned with internships in the creative industries. The publication looks to showcase the work of emergent intern and unpaid creative talent while initiating a long-overdue, ongoing debate about the intern culture that has become central to the career plans of many young people today.



Amy Win

Amy is a market stall trader, trainer, youth mentor and starting her adventure as a young social entrepreneur.


She studied Politics and Economics at the University of Manchester, and also has a foundation Diploma in Graphic Design from Central Sain Martin’s. 4Lunch is Amy’s first business venture. 4Lunch was founded on the belief that everybody can understand and enjoy good food, and that food based activities can improve employability.  Amy sought support from somewhereto_ during the early stages of the 4Lunch journey and within two weeks they had arranged a space at The Factory Youth Zone in Harpurhey, Manchester which enabled her to develop as a workshop leader. She has won awards from O2 Think Bigger and Shell Live Wire.



Sheni Ravji-Smith

Sheni is the General Manager for the social enterprise SharpFutures CIC, a Creative Digital agency committed to supporting young people into employment.


Sheni has worked in the cultural and creative industries for the last 20 years, starting her career in children’s TV, and has worked as a producer, project manager, lecturer, researcher and creative consultant. She has a proven track record at leading creative programmes and initiatives, as well as producing and managing events. Previously, Sheni has worked with Manchester International Festival, Blaze Festival for the We Play Expo in Preston,  GMMAZ, the Greenroom, Curious Minds, and Tate Liverpool.