Vicki Balaam – Founder of Stopgap Dance Company and Chairperson
Vicki is the founder of Stopgap Dance Company. A graduate from the University of Surrey, she was Surrey County Council’s Community Dance Development Officer until September 2000 when she began working full-time for Stopgap. Vicki is involved in the national debate seeking to develop the dance and disability sector, both as an advisor and through leading several lectures, seminars and courses both locally and at national conferences. Over the past 3 years she has been invited to advise on disability arts projects by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport,British Counciland Arts Council England.
"When Iona, Stopgap's previous chair, asked me to be on the board I felt so lucky and hugely privileged to continue to be involved with an organisation that I think is incredibly important for not only the dance sector but society in general. I am enjoying still being deeply connected with the company whilst being able to cheer loudly from the sidelines and offer counsel when it’s asked for."
Peter worked for over thirty years in BBC Television, in lighting, project management, technical direction, and marketing. He has been responsible for negotiating and setting up contractual commercial arrangements for working with outside organisations, including Barbican Centre, Royal Opera House, independent TV production companies producing Question Time, music programmes, and liaising with BBC departments on state occasions, major events, dance, music events and series. He left the BBC and continued on contract to the BBC and to other TV companies, and at the same time, increased his work in the charity sector. Peter joined the Board of Farnham Maltings in 2003, became Chairman in 2005 and steered the organisation through many innovative projects until he left the Board in 2010.
"Before I joined the Board I had attended a number of Stopgap performances as a member of the audience and was impressed with the choreography and productions, the integrated way of working and the national and international reach of Stopgap. I felt maybe I could help to add a more local aspect to the organisation, possibly leading to fostering ‘local’ organisations in other areas of the UK."
Jane Hackett is Project Director of the Inquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Organisations. Jane has extensive experience working as a creative artist, educator, programmer and producer. Firstly as a dancer, choreographer and dramaturg, then as a leader in Arts Education and Participation, working for the Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells amongst others, and as Director of two national conservatoires. Jane has an MA, is a published author, a Fellow of the RSA, a Churchill Fellow and former Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England.
Colette is Executive Producer and co-founder of Hofesh Shechter Company. She has led on the business and strategic development of the company for the last 10 years, growing the brand worldwide and producing and delivering UK and international touring work, alongside numerous large-scale creative projects. These include Olivier Award nominated production; Grand Finale, Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut at Brixton Academy; Orphée et Eurydice at the Royal Opera House and Hofesh’s Clowns, commissioned by the BBC for Performance Live. Prior to this, Colette worked in programming, artist development and venue management, initially with ATG theatres before moving into dance, as Administrative Director – Theatre and Artistic development at The Place.
"As an audience member I have admired and celebrated the wonderful work of Stopgap over the last decade; realising that this only scratches the surface of their delivery, contribution to creative learning and inclusive practice. I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to join the Board and very much look forward to ensuring the great work of this skilful team and its artists continues to thrive nationally and internationally."
Simon Minty has delivered training and consultancy in the field of equalities since 1997. Specialising in disability, he has a Post Graduate Diploma in Disability Management at Work. He has personal experience of disability, being of short stature and of limited mobility.
Based in London, Simon works throughout the UK and internationally. Simon’s passion for equality, his innate and learned knowledge of disability, his ability to listen and address the issue in hand combined with an infectious sense of humour has enabled him to successfully work with clients from a small NGO to a multi-national investment bank. This international work has helped Simon develop a broader understanding of different cultural approaches to disability.
He has a creative side, helping improve the portrayal of disabled people on screen and has worked with BBC, Channel 4, Five and Sky Television as well as independent production companies like All3Media, Endemol and Warner Bros. He’s produced numerous videos and co-produced and performed in the sell out Edinburgh Fringe comedy show Abnormally Funny People in 2005, returning again in 2015. He is a host of BBC Ouch podcast and Phil & Simon Show
Simon has a Post Graduate diploma in Disability Management at Work and a BSc (Joint Hons) in Philosophy and Sociology, both from City University in London.
He is an Associate to the Business Disability Forumand Business Disability International. He also helped establish theDisability Media Alliance Projectin California. His ‘evening job’ is a producer of the comedy troupe, Abnormally Funny People, which he co-founded.
A keen traveller, he won the Travel X Travel Writer of the Year 1999 – Best Television Feature for his Channel 4 travel programme in China.
"I first met Stopgap in Tirana in Albania when we were both working there for the British Council. I liked them instantly, individually and as a group. After watching them perform live on Strictly Come Dancing Albania, I found myself discussing dance for the first time. Back in the UK I went to see them and they performed for me, an audience of one. I realised the feeling of admiration and happiness I get when I am with them was a permanent thing. Many years later, in 2018, I was chuffed to be asked to join their board."
Sarah Pickthall is an artist, trainer and transitional coachwith over 20 years experience in disability arts, arts mainstream, education and children’s television. Sarah is a trained drama teacher and was a writer and puppeteer for the Media Merchants. Her programme ZZZapp was on CITV for 10 years in the late 90's and her hands were The HANDYMEN. Sarah visited the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008 funded by Arts Council England to explore inclusion and creativity as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Sarah is currently working closely with the Cultural Leadership Programme (CLP) designing and delivering Sync: a leadership programme for over 100 disabled and Deaf people in the cultural and creative sectors.
"I joined the board as I wanted to ensure that the great work of the company, particularly its new artistic direction and the developing youth company, is seen, understood and endorsed as a best practice model by as broad a range of audiences as possible. It is my absolute pleasure to work with Stopgap."
Abigail Reeve is the Producer at Birmingham Royal Ballet and is an experienced Arts Manager working across the dance field.
After training at Elmhurst Ballet School in Surrey Abi went on to work professionally as a dancer, predominantly in commercial theatre and theatre in education. After a number of years as a Dance Captain Abi realised that her skills, as well as in the performing world, were well suited to the organisation of the arts and people.When the decision was made to stop performing Abi returned to Birkbeck College, University of London, where she studied Arts Management, spending time working in a management placement at Birmingham Royal Ballet as well as other industry placements.
Stints in the commercial world including working as assistant General Manager for London Arts Discovery, a development company working predominantly with not-for-profit north American theatre companies and orchestras, and an interesting period in commercial pharmaceutical marketing, as Brand Manager for a variety of travel and scheduled vaccines, Abi made the return to her passion, the dance sector.
Abi then worked for several years as General Manager of Stopgap Dance Company in Surrey, the country’s leading dance company working with people with learning and or physical disabilities, as well as those without disabilities. After re-locating to the Midlands Abi spent her time working as Dance Relationship Manager for the Midlands region for Arts Council England, with a specialist focus on inclusive and disabled led work as well as the broader contemporary dance cannon.
As Producer at BRB Abi looks after a number of major programmes within the company’s remit, including the world leading Ballet Now programme, facilitating tomorrow’s makers to gain experience working in large scale ballet for the first time.