People

Many people make up what the Rights Studio is and will become. Contributions and participation is fluid and will evolve over time. Get in touch if you’re interested in collaborating.

The team

Veronica Yates, Co-Founder and Managing Director

Veronica has been the Director of the Child Rights International Network – CRIN, for almost 20 years. Her firm commitment to rights, not charity for children has laid the foundations for CRIN’s identity, and led her to co-found The Rights Studio. Veronica has held several Board positions, including of Child Soldiers International, Approach Ltd. and Child Rights Connect, and is a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Child Rights Division and supported the incubation of the Right to Education Initiative. Veronica is half Swedish, half English, grew up in Belgium and is now based in Berlin. She has degrees in English and Creative Writing.

Miriam Sugranyes, Co-Founder and Art Director

Miriam has been working as an illustrator and Art Director at CRIN (Child Rights International Network) for over 7 years, combining it with editorial freelance work. She graduated in Philosophy from the Universitat de Barcelona and studied a Masters in Visual Arts, specialising in illustration, at the University of the Arts, London. She is now based in Barcelona.

We also receive support from our colleagues at CRIN. 

Our Advisers

We are building a team of advisers from different creative and professional fields to guide us on our journey.

Benedict Lombe, Writer and Artist

Benedict is a British-Congolese writer and theatre-maker based in London. She has been on attachment at The Bush Theatre and has a new play commission set to debut in 2021. She was awarded a residency at Theatre503 as one of their five writers for 2019/2020. Her latest piece was performed last summer as part of Damsel Productions’ Outdoors season, and she has been shortlisted for the Papatango Award for Playwriting. She is currently working on developing original TV projects. As a child of the diaspora, her keen interest lies in boldly reclaiming diasporic stories that were never allowed to be told, with the full shades of nuance and truth they always deserved. When she is not writing, she is also Communications Director at CRIN. Find out more about her work.

Mel Uye-Parker, Musician and Educator

Mel is a British-Nigerian producer, performer and educator based in London who has been making music for over 15 years. She spends most of her time teaching people how to make music with Ableton Live and Push. When she’s not doing any of the above, she makes educational content and helps music teachers and schools integrate technology into their classrooms. She is particularly interested in training and supporting young female and non-binary people to succeed in the music world. Mel already collaborated with CRIN at the 2019 Tate Exchange event in London, and led our 2020 Festival session Collective Vibrations. www.meluyeparker.com

Michael Gibbons, Scholar, Activist and Poet

Michael has worked in basic education, community development and social justice since the mid 1970s in Asia, Africa, Latin America and low-income areas of the USA. Over the last 20 years, he led global grantmaking programmes advancing children’s rights and the right to education at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and Banyan Tree Foundation. He was country director and education advisor for Save the Children in the 1980s-90s, and was director of agricultural training for the US Peace Corps after serving as a volunteer in Sierra Leone in the 1970s. He is currently a Scholar in Residence at American University teaching courses in international training, education and development and working with partners around the world on the convergence of human rights, transformative education and social justice. Michael is also a published poet. He is based in Washington DC, USA. Michael is the author of our Journal article “Building a Wave of Positive Human Energy”

Nabeel Petersen, Researcher and Storyteller

Nabeel Petersen is a participatory/storytelling facilitator focused on developing inclusive collaborations and co-design processes, to challenge traditional research-engagement structures and programming. He is the co-founder of the South African-based the Pivot Collective, focused on egalitarian collaborations, knowledge translation and research decolonization, and the Director of Interfer, a company focused on storytelling and research. He is also a Fellow with the Wellcome Trust where focuses on developing inclusive collaborations and co-design processes with street arts to make science more accessible and relatable. Nabeel also led our 2020 Festival Session “If These Walls Could Talk: Mural Painting”. He is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Will Evans, Social Entrepreneur

He is a founding director of Ignition Brewery in the UK, a not-for-profit brewery that employs people with learning disabilities and showcases their talents in making great beer. Ignition is a sustainable business that pays the London Living Wage and is expanding nationally to further its core purpose of creating meaningful jobs for people with learning disabilities.

Will is a Non-Executive Director at Accelerate Health CIC, an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Royal Agricultural University and has mentored and advised social entrepreneurs and social enterprises widely, and was awarded the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award in 2019. We have been collaborating with Will while he was the Director of the Little Inventors, a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously.

Tessa Lewin, Artist and Researcher

Tessa is a creative facilitator and researcher with Southern African roots. She currently works as a research fellow in the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster at the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of
Sussex, where she is part of team that runs Rejuvenate. She also co-convenes the MA in Gender and Development. She has run numerous photography, film and digital storytelling projects in many different places. She likes making complicated
ideas accessible, often using drawings. She managed the communication for the research consortium ‘Pathways of Women’s Empowerment’ during which she set up the ‘Real World’ documentary film scheme. In a past and future time she is an animator and sometime musician.

Sol Polo, Creator, Curator and Educator

Between London and Barcelona, Sol curates and organises exhibitions, events and public programmes, teaches and writes about creativity and ecology, and contributes ideas to non-profits. Through her work, she seeks to show the interconnectedness of the world, how it manifests through nature and how creativity can be a powerful tool to bring positive ecological and social change. She is interested in creating dialogues between different disciplines, especially between ecology and contemporary art, design, architecture and performance. www.solpolo.info

Contributors

Our Journal and Magazine are possible thanks to the contributions of creatives and professionals from different fields:

Prashanthi Sankaran, Musician and Producer

Prashanthi is an Indian classical vocalist, pianist and bedroom music producer on Ableton. She is the founder of the Europe chapter of Stichting Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music amongst Youth, an NGO with a student network all over Europe. She believes strongly that music and arts can be a tool to overcome the struggles of racism. When she’s not making music, she’s a Mechanical Engineer from RWTH Aachen and loves factories and coaching clients on lean manufacturing practices. She grew up in Bangalore, Karnataka, South India.

He is the author of our journal article “Feminism in Popular Tamil Music”.

Pedro Hartung, Lawyer and Activist

Pedro is a lawyer and activist for human and children’s rights. He is Legal and Policy Director at Alana, Brazil. He is passionate about music and people.

He is the author of our journal article “Our Common Ground”. We also collaborated with Pedro’s NGO, Alana, during our 2020 festival, in which they made the screening and Q&A of the film Drops of Joy happen.

Ben Cislaghi, Phd

Dr. Ben Cislaghi, is Associate Professor at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). His research work at the LSHTM has contributed to increasing the understanding of how gender norms affect people’s health and how their effect can be measured. There, he leads a team of researchers and activists working at the intersection between gender equality, child protection, and ethics of international development. Ben worked for various NGOs and International Organisations, including UNICEF, WHO, and ILO and collaborated with several Universities, including Stanford and Columbia. He was director of research for the NGO Tostan in Senegal for three years.

He is a regular contributor to the Rights Studio, you can read his articles here.

Anthony Simpson-Pike, Director, Writer and Dramaturg

Anthony is a director, writer and dramaturg whose work has been staged in theatres including The Gate, The Young Vic and The Royal Court. He is currently the Associate Director at The Yard Theatre, was previously the associate director at The Gate Theatre and was a finalist for the 20th JMK award. He is interested in new writing as well as radical re-stagings of classic works, exploring the political function of theatre and questions around identity, power, representation and the environment. As well as working as a dramaturg, Anthony is a reader for The Royal Court, and also a facilitator with a passion for theatre centring young people and communities. Recent directorial work includes The Ridiculous Darkness by Wolfram Lotz at The Gate.

He is the author of our Journal article “A thought experiment

Obenewa Amponsah, Impact Coach, Speaker, and Facilitator

Obenewa is an impact coach, speaker, and facilitator.  She helps women of color around the world transform their careers, enabling them to build lives they truly love and to have the impact they want. Obenewa also designs and facilitates learning experiences that equip teams with the mindset and skills to learn, collaborate, and grow, creating work environments where everyone can truly thrive. In addition, she speaks about social issues that most affect women and Black communities worldwide, sparking the ‘aha’ moments that enable change in people’s thoughts, words, and deeds. Obenewa is a former CEO of the Steve Biko Foundation and a former Executive Director of the Harvard University Center for African Studies. Find out more about her work here and subscribe to her weekly blog here.

She is the author of our Journal article “Making ourselves available to history

Jo Holmwood, Creative Director

Jo is Creative Director of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, a children’s arts organisation and publishing house based in Sligo, Ireland, and has been working with the organisation since January 2009. During her time with Kids’ Own, Jo has designed and rolled out dozens of projects, including collaborative book projects, early years and family engagement programmes, touring exhibitions, online initiatives, research projects and sectoral development workshops. In her current role, she has overseen the publication of new children’s books including “A Strong Heart“, “I Hope You Grow“, and “This Giant Tent”. She also has a strong background in fundraising, advocacy, strategic development, building interagency partnerships and research and evaluation. Jo has worked in a freelance capacity as a translator and copy editor, and she is also developing her own practice as a writer. In this latter capacity, she has published short stories and has directed and produced her own work for the stage. 

She is the author of our Journal article “Listening to Children Differently”.

Ciara Gallagher, Project Manager

Ciara is Project Manager at Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, and has been working with the organisation since 2018. She has worked as a postdoctoral researcher on the National Collection of Children’s Books project at Trinity College Dublin. She also contributed to the European G-Book project, “Gender Identity: Child Readers and Library Collections”, on behalf of Irish partner, the School of English, Dublin City University. She is the co-editor of the volume “Constructions of the Irish Child in the Independence” Period 1910-1940 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Ciara is secretary of a small charity, Providence Education, which supports Providence school in Shillong, north-east India, and has been involved with the school since 2005. 

She is the author of our Journal article “Listening to Children Differently”.

Ramatu Bangura, Strategist & Relationship-builder

Dr. Ramatu Bangura (@ramatuforgirls) is leading the design and inception of the Children’s Rights Innovation Fund (CRIF). Prior to CRIF, Ramatu served as a Program Officer for the NoVo Foundation’s Advancing Adolescent Girls’ Rights Initiative where she resourced work to advance the rights, leadership and safety of adolescent girls in the United States and in the Global South. Ramatu has spent the last 25 years engaging in organizing, advocacy and research on a host of issues impacting transnational girls, including early and forced marriage, sexual violence, trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and educational access for English Language Learners; in the United States and Central America. Ramatu earned both a Masters of Education (EdM) and Doctorate of Education (EdD) from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

She is the author of our Journal article “What does it mean to play with fire”, hosts the event series “Always Leading, Rarely Seen” and regularly shares her writing on Medium

Michele Madden, Strategist, Researcher and Musician

Michele is a strategist, researcher and musician. She is passionate about using user-based insight to create social change, and helping individuals and organisations to make that change happen. Over the last 20 years Michele has worked with non-profits in all sectors from the arts to volunteering, from asylum seekers to young people, using strategic and operational expertise to develop and grow organisations in the UK. She is now focusing on her key interest of the design of objects, spaces and places to make a difference in the world. Michele is completing an MSc in Spatial Designs and Society in Denmark, to better understand how we make design decisions and the impact they have on users in the real world. Building on her background in music, as you can tell from this blog, she is particularly interested in the sensory aspects of design – how we hear, feel, taste and see the things around us.

She is the author of our Journal article “Sound Matters” and is our 2022 resident artist, developing the project Sound Rights, Making Noise About Rights.

Michael Gibbons, Scholar, Activist and Poet

Michael has worked in basic education, community development and social justice since the mid 1970s in Asia, Africa, Latin America and low-income areas of the USA. Over the last 20 years, he led global grantmaking programmes advancing children’s rights and the right to education at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and Banyan Tree Foundation. He was country director and education advisor for Save the Children in the 1980s-90s, and was director of agricultural training for the US Peace Corps after serving as a volunteer in Sierra Leone in the 1970s. He is currently a Scholar in Residence at American University teaching courses in international training, education and development and working with partners around the world on the convergence of human rights, transformative education and social justice. Michael is also a published poet. 

He is a Rights Studio advisor and the author of our Journal article “Building a wave of Positive Human Energy”.

Alex Barker, Freelance writer, Facilitator and Speaker

Alex Barker leads the Be More Pirate community and wears many hats as a freelance writer, facilitator and speaker. Before teaming up with Sam Conniff to develop the Be More Pirate book into a movement, she was Communications Manager at the Royal Society of the Arts in the UK. She has also worked as freelance for author and adventurer Alastair Humphreys, and with writer and activist Onjali Q. Rauf on domestic violence issues.

She is the author of our Journal article “Ctrl-Alt-Delete Pirate

Organisations

CRIN

A creative think tank producing new and dynamic thinking on human rights, focusing on children and young people. 

The Rights Studio was born under the auspices of CRIN and its partners. www.home.crin.org

Ricebox Studio

An award-winning inclusive design practice created by Safiya Ahmed, Bristy Azmi, Maria Than and Anna Tsuda. They use creative technology and visual communication for social good. Their mission is to co-explore alongside the wider community how design and creative tech can be better used as a tool to realise their vision of positively changing the world, one grain of rice at a time! 

Their project Red Cloud was a result of their residence at The Rights Studio, and led them to create the Studio. They presented both the project and the Studio in our 2020 Festival. www.ricebox.studio

Be More Pirate

A group of autonomous rebels who are out to cause good trouble by standing up to the status quo. From healthcare to education to big business, their aim is to overcome personal limitations, upend the status quo in their areas of work, and find co-conspirators with the aim to be a little more rebellious and a lot more pirate. The network came together after the publication of Sam Conniff’s book “Be More Pirate”. www.bemorepirate.com

We are proud pirates and members of the Be More Pirate movement, which inspired us to write the Rights Studio code.

Little Inventors

An education company that gives children across the world the opportunity to develop and showcase their creativity and problem-solving skills, build their confidence, curiosity and resilience to become caring citizens of our planet. www.littleinventors.org

In August 2020, we launched the project Climate Champions with them, a challenge to help children better understand climate change and encourage them to use their brilliant imaginations to think of ideas to better protect the planet. A selection of the best submissions will be brought to life showcased at events, including at the UN Human Rights Council, encouraging adults to listen to children and involve them in climate decisions.

The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Through education, training, and technical assistance, the Institute support States to develop or strengthen policies and practices for the prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities, and encouraging and supporting regional and international cooperation networks to advance prevention. www.auschwitzinstitute.org

In 2019, the Institute invited us to participate in the 58th Venice Art Biennale Artivism Pavilion, an art exhibition showcasing the connections between art, human rights, and mass atrocity prevention. Our contribution involved the launch of the Break to Create Challenge and the creation of the sculpture Wonder.

Digital Maker Collective

A voluntary, informal Research & Development (R&D) group made up of University of the Arts London staff, students, alumni who share common goals in exploring digital & emerging technologies in the context of arts practice, education, society and the creative industries. www.digitalmakercollective.org

We collaborated with them in 2019 and 2020 in the annual week-long Tate Exchange event “Beta Society” at the Tate Modern.

Design with Co

An architecture firm in Chicago that explores the territory between the architectural and the literary, real and unreal, mundane and fantastic. www.designwith.co

We collaborated with them in the development of a toolkit for children to build their own farming city, asking them to imagine how tomorrow’s world could be like.

Sawti

A multi-lingual storytelling project focusing on cross-collaboration between East African artists on the content and the diaspora. www.sawti.co.uk

United Sketches

An International Organization for Freedom of expression and Cartoonists in exile. Founded on March 8th 2015 and based in Normandy, it’s the World’s biggest growing professional network of cartoonists by its active ambassadors in each country

They organise the Women Cartoonists International Award in which we participated as jury members in 2019. www.unitedsketches.org

SustyVibes

A community of young people passionately promoting the message of sustainability through engaging projects and events. www.beta.sustyvibes.com

Childrens Rights Innovation Fund

A collective challenge to reinvigorate and transform the global children’s rights field by building power with youth activists and their allies. They are a grantmaking fund and donor learning community. In partnership with funders, youth activists, practitioners, and allies, they cultivate innovation and collaboration to dismantle the root causes of children’s vulnerability and strengthen the root drivers of their well-being. www.crifund.org

Alana

A socio-environmental impact organization that promotes children’s rights to integral development and fosters new forms of well being. Therefore is organized into three fronts: the Alana Institute, the AlanaLab, and the Alana Foundation. www.alana.org.br

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

A children’s arts organisation and publishing house, and Ireland’s only dedicated publisher of books by children for children. Their books reflect on children’s culture, identity, and imagination. www.kidsown.ie

Residents

Frederick Herrmann

Frederick was born and raised in a small village in southern Germany near Stuttgart. When he was a child he got his first camera as a gift for some birthday – it’s all kind of cliche. After his graduation and two years of training at a school as a photographer, he moved to Dortmund to study photography at the FH Dortmund. A couple of years later he went to Berlin to work as an assistant for several photographers, most in portrait and fashion. Frederick now is 26 years old, lives in Berlin, and is working on his own projects. www.frederick-herrmann.com

Safiya Ahmed

Safiya’s practice focuses on accessible and inclusive design and editorials. She likes to challenge the diversity and representation within Western design pedagogy. She is currently a Design Developer at Shades of Noir. www.saf-ahm.com | @saf.ahm 

Bristy Azmi

Bristy is a designer and maker. Her practice focuses on branding, publications, book making, jewelry making, 2D animation and accessible design. She is also the Lead Graphic Designer at Maternal Aid Association (MAA) and runs a jewelry shop, Thread & Rock, with her sister.  www.bristyazmi.com | @tnbazmi

Maria Than

Maria is a designer working with creative tech, illustration, graphic and interactive design. She is a project leader and network facilitator of the Digital Maker Collective and an artist at Made In Arts London. She is also the Design and Outreach Officer at Child Rights International Network. www.mariathan.com | @blurbnation

Anna Tsuda

Anna is a designer and creative computing graduate, passionate about visual communications and creative tech with a human centric approach for positive change. www.annatsuda.com | @anner.does.design

Together, they form the Ricebox Studio, a new inclusive design practice. Their mission is to co-explore alongside the wider community how design and creative tech can be better used as a tool to realise their vision of positively changing the world, one grain of rice at a time! Visit http://www.ricebox.studio/about.html.