LIFT welcomes five new trustees

We are thrilled to have appointed five new trustees with a diverse range of experiences, backgrounds and motivations that will bring valuable insight and support as we continue to work towards our 2024 festival and beyond.

The recruitment process, which took place through the spring, was led by Rosie Millard OBE, Chair of the LIFT Board. The selection committee included current trustees Azieb-Hannah Pool, Simon London, Enni-Kukka Tuomala and Malakaï Sargeant. Our Artistic Director/CEO Kris Nelson offered context and advice throughout.  

Through this process we looked for trustees that would bring diverse knowledge and interests to their board, in particular: lived experience of discrimination or experience of anti-discrimination work; international perspectives; and expertise in HR, charity law or fundraising. There was no requirement to have previous board experience and we actively encouraged applications from people interested in taking on the role for the first time.  

Such a fantastic group came forward for the roles that we appointed five instead of the initially sought three trustees. The five new trustees joining LIFT’s board are: Charlotte Swain, Geoliane Arab, Georgie Black, Jessica Parker and Robin Saphra. 

Rosie Millard OBE, Chair of LIFT’s board, said:

“I am delighted to welcome these new Trustees; they will bring a whole new raft of experiences and skills to augment our already fantastic Board of Directors. I feel very confident that we are in a great position to help the team at LIFT to bring the best possible festival to London next year, and look forward hugely to wowing London with the most spectacular and provocative swathe of live productions that the capital has ever seen.” 


Charlotte Swain is a career fundraiser with experience crossing sectors, missions and continents. With a particular focus on engendering opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds, she aims to leave the door open behind her wherever she goes.  An exceptional relationship and project manager with a background in environmental conservation, the performing arts and human rights, Charlotte has a diversity of experience.  From working to support people seeking abortions in Texas to providing access to the performing arts in London, she is particularly driven to create opportunities for people to access places and spaces in which they have not historically felt accessible to them.  

Charlotte currently works with international LGBTQ+ rights organisation, Stonewall UK, as their Associate Director, Philanthropy and Partnerships. She manages a variety of major corporate partnerships and philanthropic relationships all with a view to increasing diversity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ people across the UK and beyond to be free to be themselves in all areas of life. 

Geoliane Arab is an International Advisor at ONDA (Office National de Diffusion Artistique) in Paris. Born and raised in Lebanon, Geoliane was selected by Sciences Po Paris for WOMED 2015 (Women of the Mediterranean: Future generation of leaders). She studied law alongside theatre and performing arts at the Lebanese University and was trained in contemporary dance. Between 2006 and 2012, she worked as a performer, choreographer, exterior eye and assistant director with Lebanese and international artists.  

While gradually shifting to cultural management and international development, she collaborated with several international organisations on mapping the cultural scene in the Arab region and identifying valuable actors and projects. She has been jury member, moderator and speaker at different international forums. She co-directed Spring Festival 2016 (LB) and organised the IETM Satellite meeting in Beirut on freedom of expression among others.  

Geoliane was International Cooperation manager at Moussem (BE), strategy and development manager at Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival (LB) until 2017, and managing director at Hammana Artist House (LB) until 2018. She has regularly curated and produced professional programs of international platforms (Us, the moon & the Neighbours Festival 2015 (LB), Exodos Festival 2017 (SI), Shubbak Festival 2017 (UK)). Between 2017 and 2022, Geoliane was a member of the board of directors of IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts), in Brussels.  


Georgie Black is a barrister, theatre impresario and arts philanthropist. She is Patron and Founder of House of Oz, an award-winning platform for showcasing Australian Creative Arts for export, Chair of Du Boisson Dance Foundation, Patron of the UK / Australia Season of Culture, on the London Advisory Board for the Australian Ballet Company’s UK Tour and Honorary Director of the Royal Opera House.  


Jessica Parker thrives on paving the way for change, and empowering others. She brings a range of perspectives, both as a practitioner and through her strategic policy work across the creative industries. A professional dance artist, teacher and mentor for 12 years, Jessica has worked at a national and international level, with a particular focus on supporting young people including individuals with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  

Currently working for the Mayor of London’s Culture and Creative Industries Unit she has launched a series of strategic programmes to increase diversity and support health & well-being across the creative workforce in the capital. A skilled event manager she has led high-profile events across the public and private sectors, from film premieres to conferences, high level industry events to product launches. Jessica continues to foster collaborative relationships with artists, cultural and education institutions and the private sector with the goal of enriching the lives of people and solidifying London’s reputation as a global hub for creativity and innovation. 


Robin Saphra worked for 10 years as an accomplished Theatre Director before becoming a lawyer. A former trustee of the Yard Theatre in London, he has always had a strong interest in the arts. Since starting his legal career at a City law firm, Robin has spent 20 years in Corporate General Counsel roles to global technology businesses in the UK, Germany, Dubai and the USA. He has been a key influencer in creating and developing regulation for the global telecommunications markets. Robin is also an entrepreneur and has helped establish several new ventures within technology and professional services. As well as being a LIFT Board Member, Robin is Chair of the Board at Stagetext. 


Interim Executive Director Appointed

We’re also happy to announce that Sarah Sansom will be taking on the role of Interim Executive Director for the coming year as we look for a long-term replacement. Stella Kanu, Executive Director at LIFT since 2018, stepped down from the role last month to become CEO at Shakespeare’s Globe.  

We’re excited to have Sarah on board. Sarah has over 25 years’ experience working across the cultural sector in the UK and internationally as an Executive Producer, Consultant, Artistic Director, Coach and Facilitator, and has a passion for nurturing bold and innovative new work which encourages communication and exchange between artists and audiences. We’re delighted that Sarah will join us in the run up to and through our next festival, until August 2024.  

LIFT’s recruitment for an Executive Director will start in early 2024.  


Photo: Session, 2018 by Paul Blakemore