The Creative Associate Artists
Our Creative Associate Artists span a wide range of disciplines. These multi-talented individuals maintain the ethos of the Foundation and ensure the principles which Geraldine held are present in all our work.
Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds of Jamaican parentage. She is a literary activist, live artist, theatre maker, producer, and artistic director of Leeds Young Authors and an associate artist at the Geraldine conner Foundation. Educated at the University of Leeds, she has a BA honours in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies and a MA in Theatre Studies. Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared on many international stages. Her poetry collection ‘Another Crossing’ was published by Peepal Tree Press and premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2014.
Claudio kron do BRAZIL
Bahia born musician Claudio Kron plays a variety of percussion instruments and has travelled the world extensively promoting his native Brazilian culture through his writing, teaching and directorial work. Claudio cites one of his career highlights as his visit to Ghana working alongside Geraldine Connor at Elmina castle in 2007 to celebrate 200 years since the abolition of slavery. A master percussionist, Claudio most recently contributed to the Creative Lab in 2016.
David Lascelles is a BAFTA winning producer of drama for television and the cinema, including Inspector Morse, Moll Flanders, and Shakespeare’s Richard III. In 2007 he was Executive Producer of Geraldine Connor’s legendary theatre show Carnival Messiah which ran for two weeks in a big top in the grounds of Harewood House, as part of the celebration of the bi-centenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. He was one of the founders of GCF and is a contributor to the Creative Café and Creative Lab projects. On the death of his father in July 2011, he became the 8th Earl of Harewood.
Christella Litras is a songwriter, musicians, composer, vocal arranger, record producer and founding member of Caution Collective. Christella has a strong interest in World music, is heavily interested in Caribbean music and is known for her collaborations and tours with World Musicians, such as Ella Andall and Motown legends, such as Martha Reeves. Recently she assisted in production of Rob Green’s album Blue which was 3rd in the ITunes RnB Charts. A protégée of Geraldine’s she is heavily involved in the foundation contributing to many successful projects.
Zodwa Nyoni is a playwright and poet based in Leeds. Having started writing in 2005 with Leeds Young Authors Zodwa was part of the slam team that competed at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in New York, 2006. As well as featuring in many international anthologies, taking several plays on tour and performing her work across the world Zodwa also leads poetry workshops in schools, community centres and other groups across Yorkshire, Lancashire and East Anglian. Zodwa’s most recent work with the Geraldine Connor Foundation was as part of the Creative Lab in 2016.
Joe Williams is an actor, writer and historian. Born in Leeds of Jamaican heritage, Joe has specialised in theatre in education, community partnerships and historical performances. Joe is a co-founder of Leeds Diasporian Stories Research Group, Leeds Bi-Centenary Transformation Project, Kuffdem Theatre, RJC Dance and others. Following his MA in 2014 from the University of Leeds, Joe developed the Leeds Black History Walk and founded Heritage Corner, Leeds – generating diverse projects on African heritage in Yorkshire.
Nigel Wong is a Trinidadian born actor, singer, musical theatre director and close friend of Geraldine. An original Carnival Messiah cast member in 1999, Nigel has since performed in the West End, at the National Theatre and on the BBC. In 2014, Nigel was a leader on our summer masterclasses and in 2015 he curated ‘Tell Me What Yo’ Singin for’, in celebration of Trinidadian musical heritage and Geraldine’s father Edric Connor.
Kathy Dean is experienced in front of house and arts administration. During her career she has held positions at The Yorkshire Museum, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and most recently at Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre. Kathy was a close personal friend of Geraldine Connor’s and worked as her P.A for the duration of the Carnival Messiah project at Harewood House in 2007.
David Hamilton is a Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, Artistic Director and founder of the Phoenix Dance Theatre (1980s), RJC Dance (1990s) and Regeyeshun (2000’s). David worked alongside Geraldine Connor as both a performer and choreographer for Carnival Messiah and has been heavily involved with the Foundation throughout many of our projects. David has worked in South Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad, France and Spain and specialises in Reggae Contemporary Dance.
Sheila Howarth is a teacher, community Ambassador and a costume maker for Leeds West Indian Carnival. Sheila was named Leeds Most Inspiring Teacher two years running (2015, 2016) for her ability to be a role model and reach out to young people. Sheila has sat as a member of the board for the Leeds West Indian Carnival. In 2014 the Sea Dragon costume designed by Sheila and Raymond Wilkes won the Carnival Queen title, then in 2016, the pair also won the titles for Prince, Princess, King and Queen, the first time a designer has won all four titles. A long-time friend of Geraldine’s Sheila can often be seen showing her support at our workshops and events.
Ashley Karrell graduated from Northern Film School in 2005 and works as a filmmaker & photographer in Leeds. With a professional career spanning 15 years, he produces a broad spectrum of work that includes visual art, commercial & experimental video productions and mass participation pieces.
Director of production company Panoptical, Ashley delivers large and small-scale productions at public exhibitions, events and festivals, and pursues work which explores ideas of community, is socially engaging, and internationally minded. He continues to develop the living art project Expression Of You, which has so far involved 300 participants. His Carnival Messiah story began in 2002 when he captured a cast and crew of 250 using 124 track sound recording and 8 cameras. Ashley directed Carnival Messiah: The Film which has its premiere screening at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in September 2017 and will also be shown as part of the LIFF in November.
Leroy Johnson is a Leeds-based gospel musician and Mobo and Urban Music Awards nominee. A well-established musician and singer songwriter, Leroy learned the trade in the church. He was born in Sheffield, England, to Jamaican parents, who were also musicians and co-founder members of the New Testament Church of God, Sheffield. His passion for music has taken him around the world to perform on a variety of stages, with a host of world renowned artists.
Akeim Toussaint Buck
Akeim Toussaint Buck is a multifaceted performing artist, born in Jamaica and raised in England. Since graduating from Northern School of Contemporary Dance with a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts, Akeim has been involved in cross disciplinary projects working with a wide range of artists. His focus as a maker and collaborator is to combine expressive skills such as dance, writing and poetry, beat-box, singing and acting through performance and telling new stories that reach beyond existing dance audiences.
Lladel Bryant is Leeds-based actor and entrepreneur. After graduating from drama school, he co-founder of theatre company, Chicken Shop Shakespeare, aiming to present Shakespeare in inclusive forms. In 2016, he was nominated for the BEAM Award for Male Actor of the Year.
Dr Geetha Upadhyaya
Dr Geetha Upadyaya OBE is a freelance teacher, choreographer, performer and mentor. She co-founded arts organisation Kala Sangam in 1993. Noting that South Asian communities rarely came together, Geetha set up Kala Sangam (meaning art and confluence in Sanskrit) was set up to bridge the gap. She has dedicated her life to deliver outstanding South Asian and intercultural Arts in contemporary Britain and beyond.
Moji Kareem is a theatre director and workshop facilitator based in Leeds. She is founder of Utopia Theatre, a black led professional theatre company founded to produce and tour reinterpretations of classic plays, new writing and plays from and about the African diaspora. Moji was the recipient of the York Theatre Royal Graduate Prize for Directors 2011 and currently works as a freelance director in both the UK and Africa.
Tim Smith is a professional photographer, writer and researcher based in Yorkshire. His involvement with long-term projects has resulted in dozens of exhibitions, books and varied collaborations with television, radio, theatre and new media producers. Although he has a wide portfolio of experience across the commercial and public sectors, Tim has a distinguished record of recording the social and cultural transitions of minority communities as they adjust to their new lives in Britain. He is a member of Panos Pictures, a photo agency specialising in global social issues.
Donald is a professional dancer, teacher, choreographer and artistic producer based in Leeds. As a founder member of Phoenix Dance Theatre and RJC Dance, he has worked extensively with both companies; touring nationally and internationally, performing, teaching and choreographing. Throughout his career Donald has been involved in a wide range of projects as artistic producer, teacher, facilitator and consultant.
Lara is a Leeds visual artist, sculptor, poet, author, singer and songwriter. She’s also an Arts and Culture rep (Leeds BME Hub) and facilitates BHM events, art exhibitions and performances. She was part of the Carnival Messiah cast, at Harewood House and Royal Albert Hall. Much inspired by Geraldine Connor, Lara birthed the musical Nomad Woman. She coined the term “Afropolitan melodies” fusing Yoruba and English languages. Lara completed her MA (Art & Design) with Distinction at Leeds Beckett University in September 2018 and following up with PhD studies, to investigate the cosmopolitanization of Yoruba music and culture worldwide.
Nii Kwartey Owoo
Nii is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on traditional cultural practices found in West Africa and diaspora communities. Originally from Ghana, Nii’s music and contemporary choreography is strongly influenced by his Ga heritage, including spiritual beliefs, storytelling and symbolism. Nii has won commissions for his choreography from the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, Skimstone Arts, Newcastle and Alliance Francaise, Accra. He has vast teaching experience and currently teaches West African Dance at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds and West African Drumming in North Leeds. Nii’s current work explores West African Links to Caribbean Carnival and the role of radio in community development and youth engagement.