Stella Barnes is Creative Director at Community Arts North West (CAN). She leads CAN’s creative team in the development and delivery of artistically diverse, socially-engaged arts programme; responding to the ambitions and cultural aspirations of Greater Manchester’s diverse communities and connecting programmes to wider cultural sector initiatives.
Her role involves brokering dynamic partnerships that bring communities, artists, mainstream, independent and voluntary arts sectors together with third sector agencies, charities and public bodies.
Stella has a background as a theatre maker and arts leader and has a special interest in arts and migration. She has a wealth of experience including a long standing connection with Counterpoint Arts as an Associate Artist and Advisor, where she helped set up Platforma, a national network for refugee related arts and worked with residents of the Clapham Park Estate to develop artistic responses to regeneration.
At Ovalhouse, in South London she was Director of Participation for 13 years, where she built a large, strong engagement department, developing ground-breaking arts projects with young refugees, young emerging artists and disabled children. Recent freelance work has included, a residency on a narrow boat in West Yorkshire for idle women and directing a theatre piece – Stranger Tales, performed at the Southbank Centre in London and the Platforma Festival in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
She has been a consultant for A New Direction, Graeae Theatre Company and has collaborated on projects with the British Council in Southern Africa. A passionate advocate of arts and social justice, for over 30 years, Stella’s work is defined by a long commitment to diversity and equality; challenging elitism in the arts and an interest in voices not heard in the mainstream.