Empowering Women of all Backgrounds to be Leaders in the Arts.

Addressing the gender imbalance in the south west arts and cultural sector.

The Programme

Women Leaders South West (WLSW) has chosen 16 incredible Associates from over 350 applications for a training opportunity at eight arts organisations in South West England:

  • The Point, Hampshire, Diverse City, Dorset
  • Pavilion Dance South West, Bournemouth
  • Strike a Light, Gloucestershire
  • Activate Performing Arts, Dorset
  • Kaleider, Devon
  • The Arts Development Company, Dorset
  • Art Asia Trust Ltd, Southampton
  • Southampton Business School at The University of Southampton

The organisations will host two Associates each over the next eighteen months, supported by social entrepreneurship and business training from Southampton Business School and mentoring from Jude Kelly and The WOW (Women of the World) Foundation. The programme is funded by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership scheme.


The successful candidates come from a variety of backgrounds and live across the South West. Selected for their ambition to make change, to innovate and to inspire, they will start working with the eight arts organisations in the coming weeks, with a residential of intensive learning in April.

The 16 selected women Associates are:

Adrienne Dove Armstrong, Shenice Ellis, Fee Hudson Francis, Vrushali Harihar, Daisy Higman, Zahra Hoccom, Halima Malek, Anjali Mavi, Vandna Mehta, Natasha Nixon, Ruth Pitter, Rosanne Robertson, Lorna Rose, Romana Syed, Abby Young and Amber Weyman.

The two Associates who will be working and training with Activate are Natasha Nixon and Ruth Pitter.

Meet Natasha

Natasha is an international Theatre Director and Practitioner based in Bridport. Her work is cross-disciplinary with previous projects including an experimental dance theatre show exploring trauma, a queer adaptation of Macbeth, circus, new writing and mask projects, as well as a broad range of outreach work including an immersive clown dance show for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Her experience in the theatre industry includes work as a Staff Director at the National Theatre and as an Associate for the National Youth Theatre.

Meet Ruth

Ruth is based in Bristol and co-founder of Black Women Let Loose Theatre Company, Breathing Fire Black Women’s Playback Theatre Company, and ‘Our Stories Make Waves’ collective for artists of African Diaspora heritage. She has performed, written, produced, taught and directed productions locally, nationally and internationally. Ruth has also worked in the voluntary sector for many years in the field of equality, diversity and inclusion.

The Women Leaders South West project is run by a group of eight arts organisations and one business school. The project also involves the WOW Foundation, which is a global movement to celebrate women and girls and take a frank look at the obstacles they face. An Arts Council England Transforming Leadership grant is funding the project.

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