#IWD2024 Creative Women - Meet the Speakers & Watch the Event

08 March 2024

Creative Lancashire hosted a special edition #IWD2024 Conversations in Creativity and Creative Networking event in the lead up to International Women's Day on 8th March 2024. Meet our wonderful speakers, and view the talk where they share ways we can #InspireInclusion, this year's IWD theme.

#IWD2024 Creative Women - Meet the Speakers & Watch the Event

This year's theme for International Women's Day is #InspireInclusion.

To celebrate this year's theme, on Thursday 22nd February 2024, Creative Lancashire hosted a special event in advance of IWD at Blackburn Cathedral.

The event comprised a Creative Women Networking Lunch followed by a Conversations in Creativity panel discussion exploring inclusivity in the cultural and creative industries from a range of perspectives – from the arts to creative education.

This event was filmed by Northern Heart Films and the recording was published on Creative Lancashire's YouTube Account on International Women's Day, 8th March 2024.

In the week leading up to International Women's Day, we also published five feature interviews with creative women who have a connection to Lancashire, who are making their mark in creative industries. Browse these articles here.

Meet the Participants

The curated panel featured a small group of trailblazing and dynamic creative women with a connection to Lancashire.

The panel discusson was hosted by Ruth Raban FRSA and our panelists were Holly Ross, Keisha Thompson FRSA, Shirley May FRSL and Tina Redford.

Read more about each of our participants below.

Ruth Raban

Ruth Raban FRSA is an Enterprise Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University in the Business School and School of Digital Arts (SODA).

Ruth worked for 8 years as the Director of Creative Lancashire building a large network of businesses, freelances and artists, providing a range of business support services, events, consultancy, and training services.

As part of this role, she worked collaboratively with regional and national organisations including: NESTA, The Design Council, The Arts Council, D&AD and many more.

Through developing successful programmes and delivering publicly funded projects, Ruth built strong strategic partnerships with a range of stakeholders.

Ruth Raban, image by Christina Davies, Fish2Photo

Ruth was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts in recognition of her work with the creative sector. 

She is now Chair and Charity Trustee for the British Textile Biennial, a newly established national portfolio organisation funded by the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Holly Ross

Holly Ross is a singer and guitarist from Lancaster, northern England. 

Since forming her first all girl band  “Angelica” when she was 15, Holly has played in bands all her life and is currently one half of the underground surreal-psych punk rock duo “The Lovely Eggs” alongside her husband David.

The pair had a child in 2013 and took him out on the road when he was just 3 months old, sticking two fingers out of the window of their Fiat Scudo to traditional family life.

Not afraid the break the rules, Holly remains fiercely independent and despite having no management, booking agent, record label or publisher The Lovely Eggs’ recent album “I am Moron” shot to Number One in the Official UK Independent Charts.

Holly Ross of The Lovely Eggs, image by Christina Davies, Fish2Photo

They also have a host of number one selling singles in the Official UK physical and vinyl charts and continue to sell out shows across the country.

She has collaborated with Iggy Pop on The Lovely Eggs last single “I, Moron” and has recorded over ten live sessions for BBC 6 Music and Radio One.

In 2023, she collaborated with artist Casey Raymond on underground/alternative TV show Eggs TV featuring the likes of Ian Mackaye, Gruff Rhys, Stewart Lee, John Grant, Cate le Bon, Maxine Peake, John Cooper Clarke and more, which is now available to view on YouTube.

Holly has just finished working on The Lovely Eggs 7th album with Producer/Mixer Dave Fridmann which is due for release in May 2024.

Website: thelovelyeggs.co.uk

YouTube: @TheLovelyEggs

Keisha Thompson

Keisha Thompson FRSA is a Manchester-based writer, performance artist and producer.

Keisha is currently Artistic Director and CEO of Contact, Manchester, Chair of radical arts funding body, Future’s Venture Foundation, an ITC board member and recipient of The Arts Foundation Theatre Makers Award 2021.

In August 2020, she released a new mini album, Ephemera, in collaboration with Tom “Werkha” Leah and featuring riveting cellist, Abel Selaocoe.

In 2020, she finished touring award-winning solo show, Man on the MoonHer debut book, Lunarfeatures her poetry and the show script. Whilst Moonwhile is a poetic mini album featuring music from the show.

Keisha Thompson, photo by Christina Davies, Fish2Photo

She has supported artists such as Kae Tempest, Hollie McNish, The Last Poets, Saul Williams, Amiri Baraka and has performed in Brave New Voices festivals 2008 & 2009. 

Her work has been presented at venues high profile venues and platforms such as Tate Modern, Blue Dot Festival and the British Council Showcase in Edinburgh.

Recent works include: 

Website: keishathompson.com

Shirley May

Shirley May is author, poet, and Director of Young Identity.

Shirley May is a first generation Black British Poet. Hailing from the Jamaican diaspora, she intertwines her heritage into the vibrant fabric of Manchester.

As a Royal Society of Literature member and a Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, she not only crafts evocative verses but also dedicates herself to mentoring the city’s youth, inspiring them to find their voices through poetry.

Shirley May‘s book, "She Wrote Her Own Eulogy" is about displaced lives and communities on strange shores.

Shirley May, photo by Christina Davies, Fish2Photo

"It is wisdom, it is memory, and it is future and hope." Blazing with emotion, challenging all the senses, this life-affirming collection demands to be read.

Website: shirleyannemay.co.uk

Website: youngidentity.org

Tina Redford

Tina Redford has been the Director of LeftCoast in Blackpool since 2017.

Previously, she was the Head of the Library Service in Warrington and Director of Culture Warrington

Tina graduated from Lancaster University in 1988 with BA Hons in Marketing & Theatre Studies before embarking on an artistic career for the next 15 years that involved acting, stage management, gigging, lecturing and running a professional recording studio. 

Tina was also the Regional Director of MusicLeader North West for 7 years, a national programme dedicated to the professional development of musicians, especially those working with children and young people.

Website: leftcoast.org.uk

Tina Redford, image by Christina Davies, Fish2Photo

Watch the Panel Event

The full panel talk, including introduction by Jenny Rutter, Chair of Creative Lancashire, can be viewed below. Or view the full International Women's Day Playlist, including a highlights reel and interview vox pops.

#IWD2024 Conversations in Creativity Creative Women Panel

About IWD

International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

About IWD

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people.

Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific.

We invite you to inspire inclusion in your own work and life.

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #InspireInclusion.

Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness about discrimination. Take action to drive gender parity.

IWD Belongs to everyone, everywhere. 

Inclusion means all IWD actions is valid. 

#IWD2024 #InspireInclusion

Website: internationalwomensday.org

Our host and panelists were photographed at Blackburn Cathedral by Christina Davies

Christina Davies (Fish 2 Photography) is based in Preston and specialises in branding, interior, and commercial photography. She started her business in 2008 and loves working with small Lancashire and North West based businesses. 

  • View Christina's profile on our Creative Directory here.

Christina Davies Headshot

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