The first group of trailblazers have been selected for a pioneering arts leadership programme. We’d like to warmly welcome and introduce our two new associates Abby Young and Zahra Hoccom.

Abby Young

Abby studied acting at Mountview Academy of Arts, graduating in 2007. She went on to perform in West End shows, toured plays, appeared in various adverts, and performed and co-wrote musical hall shows with her theatre company ‘Tiny Wallops’.

Together with theatre maker Richard Young, Abby started ‘Tall Tails Theatre Company’. Their company mission is to remove barriers to theatre for families. Working with a Makaton director and disability and inclusion consultant, they are able to ensure that they have disability-friendly, inclusive productions, themes and language throughout.

Fulfilling her lifelong ambition to work with the Traveller, Gypsy and Roma communities is something which Abby is passionate about. During her time with the Arts Development Company, she will pilot her long-term plan to facilitate drama classes and book artists for a year long program of work, platforming and showcasing local artists from these communities.

Abby freelances as a production manager, producer and festival content booker, creator and manager.

Zahra Hoccom

Zahra is an artist based in Bristol, whose practices encompass drawing, printmaking and photography. She grew up in Somerset and studied BA Drawing at Falmouth University.

Zahra is an associate artist of Bricks Bristol and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Her continued love for the arts and understanding of the need for more representation of queer artists based in the South West has led her to become the founder and now co-director of her own CIC called Q Collaborative.

Q Collaborative is a platform to showcase queer artists based in the South West and delivers workshops to the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies. 

Zahra is excited to develop her work through the Women’s South West Leadership training programme.  

Women Leaders South West (WLSW) aims to address the gender imbalance in the arts and cultural sector. 16 women from over 350 applications will experience a paid, 18-month training opportunity at eight arts organisations in South West England: The Point, Activate Performing Arts, Art Asia, Diverse City, Kaleider, Pavilion Dance South West, Strike a Light and The Arts Development Company.

“This is an impressive, ambitious and ethically driven project that understands the need for home grown talent to develop commitment and loyalty to place. The South West region dreams big and The WOW Foundation is excited to be bringing the international dimension to the table.” 

– Jude Kelly CBE, Founder and Director of The WOW Foundation

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

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 has been supported by four external consultants to support better representation and decision-making including Maricka Oglesby, Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Baltimore at Notre Dame of Maryland University, an Advisor for the programme.