Tim Rushby


Black Country born and raised, Tim is the Head of Audience Development and Marketing for Lakeside Arts, the University of Nottingham’s public arts centre and programme. Before joining Lakeside in 2017, he worked in marketing roles at various West Midland-based arts organisations, including mac and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Tim joined the BCT Board in 2006 as the company’s then designated ‘young board member’ and has been Chair since October 2017. Having grown up in the region and benefited hugely from free music tuition provided by Sandwell Youth Music – Tim believes passionately in the transformative role the arts can have and takes great pride in being part of BCT’s team.

Julie McKirdy

Julie’s 40 years working in a very busy branch library in Sandwell and her volunteering work within the local community has helped Julie to establish Thimblemill Library as the arts and cultural hub which it is today. She was awarded the prestigious BEM, (British Empire Medal) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2015. In September 2016, she was declared Public Library Champion of the Year.

Akila McLean

Akila is an Employee at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; Birmingham Museums Trust.  She also volunteers her time within the Development Team at Black Country Living Museum.  She previously supported a community project About Town – Video art in Southside together with Birmingham Hippodrome, in partnership with Ikon.  Her 18 years of experience working in diverse industries include: Hospitality, Travel, Events and Sport.

Hitesh Patel

Hitesh is currently Head of International Sport, Major Sports Events and Sports Integrity at the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). He is also Chair of Trustees at Sport 4 Life UK, a Birmingham-based charity that delivers sports-themed programmes which support young people to improve their key life skills and employability.

Carla Priddon

Carla is CEO of The Way Youth Zone – a charity for young people in the Black Country. She manages a team of 95 and they have 3,050 members; offering activities outside of school hours to raise aspirations and encourage development for Wolverhampton’s young people. Carla has over 14 years’ experience in the charity sector, predominantly in senior fundraising roles, and has raised millions in her career for a variety of causes. She has a passion for the arts, in particular literature and the theatre. She loves books, the ocean and cats and is currently embarking on an MBA.

Imtiaz Dugarwalla

Having been born, raised and still living in Birmingham, Imi has worked in various roles for an Investment Bank since starting as an Intern in 2010 and is currently working in their Data Office. Imi is also a Committee Member at his local Mosque.

Kayleigh Talbot

Born and raised in the West Midlands, Kayleigh is currently Manager of dance theatre company ZooNation Youth at the Birmingham Hippodrome as well as a professional Actress. As a previous graduate in Drama from the University of Wolverhampton, she is keen to develop theatre in the West Midlands. Kayleigh has previously worked with BCT on their 2018 summer project at the Black Country Living Museum titled ‘Back In 10’ and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Contemporary Theatre and Performance.

Paul Reece

Paul, a proud Brummie, started his career working for one of Birmingham’s most respected employers, Kalamazoo Plc where he held the position of Head of European Marketing for the UK and all sites across the continent. With a passion for communities, arts and architecture, he left Kalamazoo to work for The pUBLIC. After 4 years, he moved on to take on the position of Head of Marketing and Communications for Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He is delighted to be in a position to support Black Country Touring.

Sarah-Jane Watkinson

Sarah-Jane is an independent theatre producer working with Paul O’Donnell, Little Soldier and Spanish companies Sleepwalk Collective and Atresbandes. She’s also worked as a general manager and producer with organisations that include China Plate Theatre, The Play House Theatre in Education, Women & Theatre and Sampad South Asian Arts.