Sharon Watson MBE

Sharon is currently CEO and Principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Prior to this, Sharon Watson was the 7th and longest-standing Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, choreographing Fast Lane, Melt, Never 2 Still, Repetition of Change, TearFall and Windrush: Movement of the People.

During her tenure at Phoenix Dance Theatre, Sharon received a number of awards and accolades, including The Sue Ryder ‘Yorkshire Women of Achievement in Business Award’ and ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’. In July of 2019 Sharon received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University for her contribution to the arts. Sharon’s recognitions are testament to her continued passion and drive to contribute to the local and national creative industries through dance.

In November 2020, Sharon was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire

Sharon is a trustee of Leeds Playhouse and Leeds 2023. She is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and Black, Asian and ethnic minority artists.

Anand Bhatt BEM

Anand is currently Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of Dance City in Newcastle. Formerly a dance tutor, producer and entrepreneur, he founded Leicester Dance Theatre Limited (Aakash Odedra Company), which in the 2010s was amongst the fastest growing new contemporary dance companies in the UK. The company commissioned Olivier award-winning artists including Russell Maliphant, Damien Jalet, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan, touring to some 40 countries in that time.

Alongside this work, Anand also directed the acquisition and expansion of Shiamak dance franchise in the UK, the world’s largest Bollywood dance company. Anand grew this work to reach 1000 participants per week in schools, community settings and prevocational training; across 14 towns and cities in 6 English regions from Manchester to Dartford.

In January 2021, Anand was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM), in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, for services to Dance and Community.

Pawlet Brookes FRSA

Pawlet Brookes is the founder, CEO and artistic director of Serendipity, the diversity-led arts organisation in Leicester.  An experienced and highly respected senior manager and producer, Pawlet has been at the forefront of the development of Black arts in the UK.  She was Marketing Manager at the Nia Centre (Manchester) in the 90s, Artistic Director of Peepul Centre (Leicester) and Chief Executive of Rich Mix (London) and Arts Council assessor for a number of Black arts capital projects.

As founder, CEO and artistic director of Serendipity, Pawlet has established an annual dance festival in Leicester since 2011, Let’s Dance International Frontiers, and coordinates Black History Month for the city.  Large scale projects also include Ballare: To Dance and Follow the Light for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  Pawlet has edited a number of publications, most recently, Reflections: Irrepressible Voices of Black British Cultural Resilience, BlackInk and My Voice, My Practice: Black Dance (2020). 

Pawlet is currently a member of Arts Council England’s Area Council and associate lecturer at Falmouth University. Pawlet was a finalist for the 2009 National Regeneration and Renewals Award for Cultural Leadership and BME leader of the Year at East Midlands Women Awards 2018.