IAP is led by founder Mhari Robinson (she/her), who is responsible for all areas of programme, operation and strategy. Mhari lives with her partner and daughter in a wee flat off of Leith Walk in Edinburgh.
Mhari produced performance projects and ran small theatre and dance companies for 10 years before she founded Independent Arts Projects in 2018. She has led the company since working with a range of independent artists to create thrilling performance projects for audiences across Scotland and beyond.
Previously, Mhari worked with Janice Parker Projects, Fire Exit, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, A Play, a Pie and a Pint, and Wee Stories. She has toured work across Scotland, the rest of the UK, Ireland, Western Europe, North and South America. She has published texts, managed the production of complex film & audio projects as well as producing new theatrical works.
Max Alexander (he/him) is an artist, playworker and creative facilitator who specialises in working with neurodivergent and/or disabled children and young people. Working as ‘Play Radical’ Max creates and co-creates spaces for play, exploration and connection with a focus on neurodivergent joy and ways of relating.
Max is passionate about access to artistic, playful and creative experiences for neurodivergent and disabled individuals and the idea of beautiful creative accessibility is at the centre of his practice. He has worked with numerous organisations in the arts, theatre and education to make their practices and services more accessible to neurodivergent and disabled audiences and uses writing to further explore and share ideas in this area.
As an autistic artist Max’s practice is a space to communicate in his primary language, which is inherently a sensory one. He creates playful objects and environments which offer different ways of interacting with people and the sensory world. He is drawn to repetition, pattern, movement and loves to dive deep into things that might seem mundane or insignificant to discover new detail, beauty and very often absurdity and humour. Max is currently very into light switches, sticks and the colour orange.
See PlayRadical.com for more.
Associate Artist (Engagement)
Lou Brodie (she/her) is a creative facilitator, performance maker and project manager based in Scotland. Through artistic processes rooted in a social practice Lou enjoys creating spaces, events and performative actions that explore the role of risk and responsibility. From how to throw bricks workshops, intergenerational dancefloors and our dancing rules, a full year asking people to hold her hand for 30 minutes each day and creating festivals and exhibitions, themes of quiet activism, intimacy and joy run throughout her work.
Some of her previous projects include From Here, Bricking It, WOWsers: A Creative Explosion, The Coming Back Out Ball and LGBTI Elders Social Dance Club, WOW Global 24, Helen’s Letters, Rules of the Dance Floor and WOW Perth.
She currently works part time as the Creative Project Facilitator for Imaginate in addition to her portfolio of on-going freelance projects. Her work at Imaginate sees her leading on their flagship children’s rights project Creative Encounters. Through this she supports artists to create new performance work that takes a rights based approach to the inclusion of children in the creative process. She plays a role in the company’s ongoing work towards the inclusion of the UNCRC across policy and processes. Crucially, she supports children and young people from Imaginate’s partner organisations to explore self efficacy and to play a key part in Imaginate’s work.
Lou’s work with IAP began with providing dramaturgical support to Mamoru Iriguchi’s production of Sex Education Explorers (S.E.X.).
She has a BA(Hons) in Contemporary Theatre Practice from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and an MSc in Applied Gender Studies from Strathclyde University. Lou currently sits on the board of Engender as vice convenor and treasurer.
Nina Doherty (she/her) joined IAP in November 2021 to produce and coordinate IAP’s Culture Collective project, the Sensory Collective until September 2023. She now works across IAP’s programme of projects.
Nina is an arts manager who is passionate about widening access to the arts. Her background is in theatre and creative learning but she loves working with all artforms.
Nina is a 2015 Arts, Festival and Cultural Management graduate from Queen Margaret University and was Producer with Eco Drama for 5 years, where she managed creative learning and theatre projects which bring children and young people closer to nature. She previously co-founded and co-ran an environmentally focused emerging theatre company, Makeshift Broadcast, which ran for six years. She carried out a Federation of Scottish Theatre Producer placement at Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in 2015 and held the role of Treasurer on the board of trustees for The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow for 4 years.
Nina is visually impaired and particularly enjoys collaborating with and
advancing the voices of other disabled people, believing that being disabled can give an insight and perspective that brings a richer understanding of each other and the world.
Nina works 3 days a week at IAP and also works as General Manager at BOOM! Community Arts in North Glasgow.
Rosie Ward (she/her) comes from a production and technical background in Theatre. She has worked with a variety of companies as a freelance Technician, Production Manager and Stage Manager on both theatre and outdoor events. Companies worked with include The Traverse, York Theatre Royal, Birds of Paradise, Surge, Big House Events, Starcatchers, Scottish Ballet, Capital Theatres and Edinburgh International Festival as an LX Technician. Rosie feels most at home backstage in a theatre, but loves working on installations and arts projects outside of traditional theatre spaces.
In December 2023 she completed an MSc in Environment, Culture and Society from the University of Edinburgh. Her dissertation focused on the role local arts venues in the Highlands and Islands play in building community capacity and resilience: in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Rosie has previously worked with IAP on Sound Symphony in 2019 and is looking forward to her new role as Projects Coordinator – taking on new challenges and working with some familiar faces! She has long covid, and is always happy to swap strategies and share support.
Associate Artist (Sensory)
Kirsty Biff Nicolson (they/them) is an artist and faciltiator who’s works with different people and places. Kirsty is committed to co-creating spaces where different ways of being can exist together. They are passionate about pleasure, play and neuro-queering spaces by and with neurodiverse, queer and trans folks.
They were part of the Sensory Collective an 18 month project which involved research, collaboration play, artistry, film making with different communities and people.
Kirsty is one half of the anarchic drag-clown duo Oasissy, named “one’s to watch” by The List.
They are a mentor on the Shutup and King programme, sharing practice and support with emerging drag kings.
Kirsty also often works as an access support collaborator. Through this work they support other disabled and neurodiverse artists’ creative processes and access needs.
They have collaborated with Luke Pell and collaborators, Janice Parker and, Annabel Cooper, Lars Neupert, Melanie Jordan, Queen Jesus Productions, Surge, Birds of Paradise, Garvald Edinburgh, Amanda Noble, Anatomy, Craig Simpson, Independent Arts Projects, Nelly Kelly, Dive Queer Party, Queer Theory and more.
Niroshini Thambar (she/her) is a musician, composer and sound designer. She works across live theatre, audio drama, installation and film and has previously been a session musician on violin and keyboards, performing on the UK live circuit and on album recordings.
Niroshini has a strong belief in the role of the creative arts in helping to build an inclusive society which values diversity across the human community and the rest of the natural world. She is experienced in devising and leading arts projects, particularly with inclusive music and sound-led creative projects for schools and a range of community groups. Initially studying Environmental Sciences, she also has an MSc in Human Ecology from the University of Edinburgh where her interdisciplinary interests were in ecofeminism, music/creative arts and socio-ecological justice.
Her audio-visual installations are collaborative and participatory; Transmission, engaging with aging, memory and creativity; Memory Box, exploring Sri-Lankan diaspora history and shifting identities; trans:migration, inspired by the work of Scots naturalist John Muir, migration, belonging and connection to nature.
Work for theatre includes: Ghosts (National Theatre of Scotland), Hindu Times (Royal Lyceum /Pitlochry Theatre/Naked Productions), Here (Curious Monkey/Northern Stage), Gagarin Way (Dundee Rep), Home is Not the Place (Annie George), Secret Life of Suitcases (Ailie Cohen Puppets), Revolution Days (Bijli Theatre), The Tempest (Tron Theatre), Helping Hands (Pitlochry Festival Theatre).
Other recent work includes Series Composer for United Kingdoms (Naked Productions/BBC Radio 4 commission), and Associate Director for the outdoor audio-led production Niqabi Ninja (Independent Arts Projects).
For more information, visit NiroshiniThambar.com
Originally from Japan, Shiori Usui (she/her) is a BBC Proms commissioned composer, and free improviser who plays piano (including her favourite, inside and under the grand piano), noise vocal, beautifully out of tune zither, Cuíca that cries with a visceral voice, and various small noise making objects. Shiori also worked as a co-composer and performer of the sensory theatre show Sound Symphony for and with disabled young people, directed by Ellie Griffith (first produced by Independent Arts Projects in 2019, and later co-produced between Independent Arts Projects and Oily Cart in 2022). Shiori now lives in Dundee, Scotland. The Times newspaper described her as a composer with “entirely individual ears” after the successful premiere of the her first professionally commissioned piece “Liya-pyuwa” for piano quintet at Wigmore Hall, London in 2006.
Shiori has produced works in radical instrumental music, and has worked with motion capturing sensors and biophysical technology along with her colleagues. Many of her compositions are inspired by the sounds of the human body, the deep sea, and many other weird and wonderful organisms living on Earth.
As a composer, Shiori has worked with numerous international ensembles and orchestras including BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov, Collegium Novum Zurich, Switzerland, conducted by Peter Rundel, Philharmonisches Orchester Cottbus, Germany, conducted by Alexander Merzyn, and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group conducted by Martyn Brabbins.
As an improvising musician, Shiori has performed with artists and groups such as Arve Henriksen, Ilan Volkov, Rie Nakajima, Lee Patterson, Cato, Grey Area, BCMG and Collegium Novum Zurich.
Shiori has been a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2012, Civitella Ranieri Music Fellowship in conjunction with the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary (2010), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Cove Park composer’s residency (2012), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/Sound and Music composer-in-residence (2013-2014), Scottish Chamber Orchestra Connect Fellow funded by BBC Performing Arts Fund (2013-2014) for working with disabled young people, Ricordi Lab publishing scheme from Ricordi Berlin (2016 – 2019), Scottish Awards for New Music for large ensemble (2018), Awards for Artists by Paul Hamlyn Foundation (2019) and Accelerator Programme by Imaginate (2022).
Lead Artist: Sensory Workshops for Elders at Dixon Community
Joanna Young (she/her) is an independent choreographer currently practicing in Govanhill. Her work often involves a meditative and sensorial tone, intricate crafting and time to tune into the movements between people, places, and things. Interdisciplinary collaboration is at the core of Joanna’s work. Projects and practices emerge by listening and responding, which facilitates an inclusive, co-authored and participatory process. Joanna works in both rural and urban contexts, which have resulted in outdoor, gallery and site-specific installations; stage productions; film; and audio walks.
Recent collaborative projects include: ‘Conditions for possibility’ (a research project funded through a Creative Wales Award); ‘And all the men we saw today’ (Commissioned by Southampton university); ‘Unknown Places’ (Commissioned by Shropshire Inclusive Dance); and ‘Bodies of water’, made in collaboration with Saffy Setohy, Aya Kobayashi, and Nicolette Mcleod. .
In 2017 Joanna completed a Masters in Choreography (with distinction) from London Contemporary Dance School. Joanna regularly facilitates inclusive workshops in a range of education, community and health contexts. She is a visiting university lecturer specialising in expanded choreographic practices and theory.
Joanna was a founding member of Groundwork Pro (Cardiff), and is an associate artist at Interval (Bristol). She regularly collaborates with composer Jamie McCarthy and has worked with dance artists Deborah Light, Jessie Brett, Beth Powlesland and Ania Varez in a supporting role / rehearsal director / mentor capacity.
We work with extraordinary people to create our programme of performance projects and events. Our team grows and contracts based on the projects we’re working on at the time.
Board of Trustees
The company is supported by a board of volunteer trustees:
– Natasha Lee-Walsh (she/her), Managing Director, Edinburgh Open Workshop
– Leigh Mullin (he/him), Consultant/Technical Architect in Technology
– Michelle Rolfe (she/her), Producer, Birds of Paradise & Co-Director, Stage Sight
– Hannah Roberts (she/her), Lead Producer, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company (Chair)
– Ayo Schwartz (they/she), Head of HR, National Theatre of Scotland
– Sara Shaarawi (she/her), Playwright
From autumn 2023, we will be recruiting for three new Trustees to join our board. If you’d like to request more information, do take a look at our previous call out for board members or do please to get in touch.
Top image by Catriona Parmenter