Here you'll find profiles for Déda's Board Members.
Geoff Sweeney is the former Director of Development at Birmingham Royal Ballet. He has 15 years senior management experience, demonstrable success in strategic planning, leading fundraising teams and a track record of raising substantial donations for endowment funds, capital and revenue projects. Formerly Development Director of Derby Playhouse he raised the funds and led the project team for a complete front of house refurbishment and secured the theatre's largest ever sponsorship – the national award winning partnership with Egg Banking plc. Additionally, Geoff is also on the Executive Committee of the Remember a Charity campaign – a coalition of 140 of the UK’s favourite charities, who work together to encourage more people to consider leaving a charitable gift in their Will.
Vice Chair, Gary is a director at Baldwins Accountants, a firm of Chartered Accountants with 63 offices across the UK. Gary is based out of the firms Derby office and brings to the Déda board almost 30 years experience of providing tailored and timely advice to businesses, with special attention to sector specific commerciality and tax saving opportunities. He has particular experience in working with businesses in the agricultural and hospitality sectors and is a member of HOSPA, an association for accounting professionals within the hospitality sector. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Gary is also a Director of Gresley FC.
Jimmy has worked at Derbyshire County Cricket Club, as Commercial Manager, since the start of 2017. Previous to that, he worked within the Inward Investment Team at Marketing Derby, responsible for attracting a range of new businesses and investment into the city. Derby born and bred, Jimmy studied Business Management at the University of Derby, which then led to over 10 years working in the Banking and Financial sector for egg and Citi Bank, before working in Event Management and Sponsorship. He has a real interest and passion to make Derby a better place to live, work and play, and sees a clear synergy between the arts offer for Derby and its appeal to people wishing to visit, invest in or move to the city.
Obe 'Rukus' Watson is a successful music producer, with many successful releases, he has worked alongside some of the UK’s most established artist's, including Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, Skinnyman, Klashnekoff, Blade, Baby J and many more. Throughout his career in music, Rukus has always been interested in sharing his skills and abilities with others to enable their own successes. Having already set up a youth arts group, Trinity (2000), he then went on to set up a music workshop company, Baby People (2003) alongside his Business partner Baby J. Baby People music is a company that looks to take the raw enthusiasm and music talent of inner city youth and focus and nurture this talent to give them the opportunity to meet their potential; taking their enthusiasm and showing young people the techniques and practices which they can use to empower them to a position of self-sufficiency. The talent and potential in our communities is obvious, Baby people’s goal is to pass on knowledge and skills to other generations with a view that in time, these same youth will teach and empower the next generation. Rukus is a very well respected member of the arts community, and has often spoken at arts council events, and various arts seminars and events.
My work background is publishing, copywriting and fundraising. I worked at at Harper’s Bazaar in New York, then switched to international co-publication (food, wine and antiques titles) and the Time-Life Good Cook series in London. At Crabtree & Evelyn, I wrote food and toiletries copy, recipes and pamphlets for their shops in the UK, Europe, Asia and the US. I have fundraised for Opera North, Sinfonia ViVA and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. I believe that quality arts deserve strong support and bring my work experience to the table to help bring this to Déda.
Laura has worked in law firms in the area for over ten years and is currently an Associate Solicitor at Nelsons in Derby specialising in employment law. She enjoys reaching out into the local community and is looking forward to supporting the next stage of Déda’s development. She is also a member of the board for Déda Producing.
Patrick Welsh is a qualified marketing and communications professional with over 20 years experience in the private, not-for-profit and charitable sectors. He began his career managing PR campaigns for some of the world’s largest IT companies – primarily Microsoft - before founding and ultimately selling his own agency. Today he heads up marketing at Phoenix independent cinema and art centre in Leicester. Combining his business background with hands-on experience in arts marketing, Patrick helps Déda keep customers, and their experience, at the heart of Déda's thinking.
Graham is Director of ARTBUILDING PROJECTS – a company providing production and consultancy services to the performing arts industry. Graham is currently leading on a new capital project in Chester, which will see a 1930’s Art Deco cinema transformed into a new Cultural Centre. This £37million project will commence construction works in 2015 and is due to open to the public in Autumn of 2016. As Producers’ ARTBUILDING recently launched OBAMA THE MAMBA – a new critically acclaimed play written by Kevin Fegan and directed by Kully Thiarai. Other production work includes the launch of the 2012 Paralympics Torch Ceremony in Stoke Mandeville, BABEL for World Stages London and the world’s first Digital Tea Dance - an immersive participative project celebrating and providing a voice for those who lived through World War II. Prior to ARTBUILDING, Graham led on the development of Leicester’s new performing arts centre CURVE.
Suzannah is a Creative Producer with over 20 years of experience, most recently with The Renewal Trust, a regeneration charity working with communities on Nottingham’s Eastside. Suzannah’s interest lies in connecting local residents to art and creative opportunities of the highest calibre, and has brought artists including Birmingham Royal Ballet, Dance4, The Caravan Gallery and fashion photographer Rankin to these communities. Suzannah’s background spans literature, theatre (Out of Joint, Talawa, Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre), dance and arts funding (Arts Council England) with an increasing focus on community involvement. She recently set up Place at Sneinton Market, in the heart of Nottingham’s Creative Quarter, as the new home for The Renewal Trust’s creative programme - a bridge between local communities and the City’s arts and cultural offer, with the aim of increasing local people in the shaping and making of art.