Introducing John Darvell and Sarah Shead

News | 19 January 2021

Black and white photos of John Darvell (left) and Sarah Shead (right)

John Darvell

John Darvell is the Founder and Director of NOCTURN, who create DIGITAL ART designed through PARTICIPATION. John is a gay man originally from a working-class background in the North East. His professional journey into dance began in his late 30’s after taking the courageous risk at 37 to retrain in contemporary dance, leaving the security of a graphic designer with the civil service. After graduating from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2007 he has focused on creating accessible digital dance work and immersive online events, utilising social media to engage audiences. His works have led to very exciting cross art form collaborations with other artists, including Greyworld, Yeast Culture, Parlor Dance, John Chambers, David Varella, Black Screen Productions, Rose Productions amongst others.

John has written articles for national and local publications including People Dancing, Greenwich Dance and the National Dance Teachers Association for which he was a Board member. His educational work has featured in publications such as Kidscape – ‘How to create kind schools’ alongside contributions from Dance United and 2Faced Dance Company and Headteacher Update which is distributed to all UK Primary Schools. His innovative approach to storytelling has been showcased in a range of sector workshops and industry events, guest lectures at Trinity Laban and is a regular teacher at MOVE IT.

Sarah Shead

Sarah found her passion for dance at the age of 8 and went on to complete a BA (Hons) Dance International at Bretton Hall (UK) and York University (Toronto).

She spent the first part of her career working her way up the ranks in organisations such as; Creative Partnerships, Dance4, Yorkshire Dance and CidaCo.

During maternity leave in 2010, Sarah founded an independent producing company, Spin Arts. She’s been working as Director and Creative Producer ever since and has produced award winning and critically acclaimed international touring shows.

In 2018, Spin Arts was shortlisted for a One Dance UK award for devotion to cultivating brilliant dance makers.

Spin Arts prioritises artists that are considered under-represented and works with them to create unique productions that can be found in theatres, libraries, galleries, community centres, and outdoor festivals.

Sarah’s dynamic, down to earth and proactive approach has resulted in investment from Arts Council England, Wellcome Trust, Big Lottery, Sportivate, The Elmley Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, PRS Music Foundation, Guys and St Thomas Charity, Design Council, Peoples Postcode Lottery, Peoples Health Trust, Sheffield Bluecoat, Sheffield Town Trust, Church Burgess and The Ingle Foundation, to name a few.

Committed to talent development, Sarah has designed and delivered initiatives such as; Catapult (NSCD), Northern Connection (NSCD) and Civic Artist Residency Programme (The Civic Barnsley). She’s also been a consultant and advisor for Arts Council England and DCMS.

Last year, Sarah became increasingly concerned that arts leaders were disconnected from the problems they were trying to solve. In response, Sarah set up a new venture Artistic Mutiny UK, an online network of arts & cultural workers seeking to find more equitable ways of working.

Sarah is currently being supported to develop her skills as a Social Entrepreneur via Paul Hamlyn’s Ideas and Pioneers.

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