IAP is led by founder Mhari Robinson, 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.
Producer (Sensory Arts)
Nina Doherty produces and coordinates the Sensory Collective for IAP.
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. Her interest in the environment and nature also sees her as Treasurer on the board of trustees for The Hidden Gardens in Glasgow. She also co-founded and co-ran an environmentally focused theatre company, Makeshift Broadcast, which ran for six years.
Nina is visually impaired and enjoys working alongside 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. She worked for Sense Scotland for 5 years in support work and fundraising roles and carried out a Federation of Scottish Theatre Producer placement at Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in 2015.
Kirstin Georgia Abraham (Sensory Artist) is a visual artist and play practitioner born in Gibraltar and based in Fife. She is passionate and committed towards creatively connecting with children and young people with disabilities and complex needs and their families/carers; by co-designing/co-authoring immersive creative play experiences and installations, responsive to the needs, interests, and wellbeing of individual and family dynamics.
Her passion for creating and facilitating inclusive, accessible, and bespoke arts spaces, programmes and projects is driven from her own personal experiences, being brought up to value diversity, by parents with cerebral palsy, visual impairment and mixed heritage. She is also a young parent with three children, including a son who is autistic.
The journey as a parent of a neurodivergent child has been and continues to be challenging, beautiful and creatively inspiring. Igniting her interest and desire to create bespoke accessible arts opportunities, co-designed by individual and entire family unit/carer needs and interests. Enabling fun, innovative, safe, and non-judgemental positive experiences, and environments, which encourage connection and re-connection in often emotionally complex family dynamics.
She believes her personal experiences of having a neurodivergent child has enriched her professional experience as a community visual artist and play practitioner. Enabling her to identify and produce original inclusive projects.
Max Alexander (Sensory Artist) 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.
Sonia Allori (Sensory Artist) is an electroacoustic composer, performer, researcher and community music therapist. She completed a PhD at Edinburgh Napier University which explored words and music, and this continues to weave a thread through her practice.
In 2019 Sonia was cast in Sound Symphony (IAP/Oily Cart) where she experienced sensory theatre for the first time and developed a keen interest in the field. Also, in 2019 she was a Music Fellow at Trinity Laban and performed in “The Lost Thing” (Royal Opera House/ Candoco).
Sonia was Artist in Residence with Drake Music (London) in 2020 and is currently Development Artist with Sonic Bothy an inclusive experimental music ensemble based in Glasgow.
Recent commissions include: F-email (Angel Field Festival, 2021); Songs in isolation (Disability Arts Online, 2021) and Curious-er (Drake Music, 2020) which was shortlisted for a Scottish New Music Award in 2021.
Sonia is researching D/deaf performance at RCS.
Kirsty Biff Nicolson (Sensory Artist)
Kirsty’s practice spans drag, clown, voice, play, performance making, creative enabling and support work. They work in community and professional spaces, creating collaborative experiences with artists, audiences and participants.
Kirsty often works as a creative enabler; supporting other disabled artists’ creative processes and co-founded Garvald Edinburgh’s drama and performance workshop, where they created collaborative, devised, disability-led work and experiences. Kirsty is one half of the anarchic drag-clown duo Oasissy, named “one’s to watch” by The List. Through lockdown, Kirsty established the Creative Well-Being programme in collaboration with Lung Ha artists, developing artist-led ways of exploring their creative practice online.
They have collaborated with Surge, Luke Pell and collaborators, Janice Parker and collaborators, Anatomy, Craig Simpson, Dive Queer Party, Queer Theory and more. They are delighted to be part of the Sensory Collective.
Niroshini Thambar (Sensory Artist) 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
Joanna Young 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:
– Fiona Fraser, Independent Production Manager
– Natasha Lee-Walsh, Managing Director of Edinburgh Open Workshop
– Leigh Mullin, Consultant/Technical Architect in Technology
– Michelle Rolfe, Producer at Birds of Paradise & Co-Director, Stage Sight
– Hannah Roberts, Lead Producer, Royal Lyceum Theatre Company (Chair)
– Ayo Schwartz, Head of HR, National Theatre of Scotland
– Sara Shaarawi, 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