Mike Layward - Artistic Director

Mike Layward has worked in the arts for nearly 40 years, as a performer, musician, carnival designer, maker, puppeteer, producer, director and live artist. He has worked across the UK, France, Holland, Spain, Palestine and India.

Since 1999 Mike has been Artistic Director of DASH and has been instrumental in DASH gaining a National reputation as the leading Disability Visual arts organisation. 

Mike's philosophy is based on the belief that the arts are and have to be a vehicle for Social change.

Mike has an MA in Activism and Social Change (Leeds University) 2009.

Paula Dower - Operations Director

As well as working part-time for DASH Paula is also a painter and photographer, her usual subjects are horses and the natural world. She lives in Wellington with her husband, daughter and two cats.

Paula thinks that DASH makes a difference by creating opportunities for artists, bringing people together through workshops in the county and extending reach of DASH by creating partnerships with other cultural and disability organisations.

"Working for DASH is incredibly fulfilling. Creating new projects, fundraising and managing them can be stressful at times, but it is always rewarding."

Ian Wainwright - Treasurer

Ian is an electricity distribution engineer by profession and is now managing director of an information management company providing services to companies who own and operate major infrastructures ranging from networks to process plants and airports.

His association with DASH began in 1999 when he was asked by the PR Director of the company he worked for at the time if he would volunteer as an advisor to Business in the Arts to undertake a business planning project for a small organisation called Disability Arts in Shropshire, which was a fledgling offshoot of the Shropshire Disability Consortium, and had aspirations to become an independent charity in their own right.

The project was expected to take a month, two at the most, but Ian was so impressed with the enthusiasm, talent and commitment of the organisation and the artists which it supported that he became one of the founding directors and trustees and has continuously served on the Board of DASH ever since.

Adrian Plant - Art Treasurer

Adrian studied Art, Photography and Film at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art (1978-81).   After leaving college he worked for museums and galleries across the UK, including the Cambridge Darkroom, the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich.

Adrian then worked for the Tate Gallery in Liverpool (1989-99) as Curator to develop projects supporting the gallery's exhibitions and commissions programmes, including managing artist's residencies such as working with Antony Gormley and a local community to create Field for the British Isles.  

Adrian gained an MA in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Liverpool (1995-1998).  

In 2001 Adrian was appointed the first Exhibitions Officer for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, Shropshire Council Museums Service, where he has developed an innovative curatorial policy to engage new audiences for contemporary art:
'The aim is to develop new ways to invigorate, animate and (re) interpret our historic museum collections (and the heritage environments of Shrewsbury and Shropshire) through commissioning and exhibiting the work of local, national and international contemporary artists.'

Adrian has curated exhibitions and commissions with a wide range of international artists including Antony Gormley, Louise Short, Vladimir Arkhipov, Ivan and Heather Morison, Ken Feingold, Rosemary Butcher, myvillages.org, Paul Bush, Helen and Newton Harrison, Dorothy Cross, Marcus Coates, Shirley Chubb, Neil Brownsword, Iain Gardner, llana Halperin, David Haley, Brandon Ballangee and Thomson and Craighead.

Adrian is an experienced mentor to emerging artists, was a Trustee for Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown (2002-07) and has been a Trustee for DASH since 2010.


Yvette Priestley - Secretary

Yvette was born in Shrewsbury and spent her early years in the town before going to school in Coventry for visually impaired children. Her Dad and his large extended family still live in the Shropshire area.

Yvette's world as a visually impaired child growing up in the 1980s, had very little to do with art. She says that she did enjoy art at school, but was quickly encouraged to concentrate on 'sensible' subjects to get on in life.

She spent three years back in Shropshire on and off after leaving university - and during this time has vague recollections of hearing about DASH.

Yvette got a 'proper' job, which led her to London. "This is where my taste for art began. My workplace was close to Tate Britain and I got involved in access projects at the gallery. This started with helping develop picture described tours of the gallery and putting together an orientation guide to get to the gallery."

"A group of visually impaired people was then set up to advise Tate Britain and Tate Modern on its access work. The touch tours and picture described tours really flourished at this time. I also did some evening classes in sculpture and ceramics in my limited free time."

Yvette relocated to Birmingham for work reasons in 2006 and shortly after this read an advert in the Guardian by DASH for new Directors. It appealed to her because it was based in Shropshire and it linked her interest of making the arts more accessible to disabled people.

"I became Chair in 2008 and I think it is more important than ever to support disabled artists and audiences."

Rachel Gadsden - Patron

Rachel Gadsden is a multi-award winning artist who has a BA and MA in Fine Art; she was artist for Hampton Court Palace 2008 - 2009, and has undertaken 4 major commissions for UK Parliament (2009 – 2015). London 2012 Cultural Olympiad commissions followed - Unlimited Global Alchemy and Starting Line.

In 2013 Gadsden represented the UK, creating “This Breathing World” for Qatar – UK Year of Culture 2013, for British Council and Qatari Government, HRH Prince Charles formally opened the exhibition. Further 2013 commissions included Talking Souls with BC South Africa & Cube of Curiosity with Marc Brew for Liberty Festival.

In 2014 Gadsden created a digital artwork for the Sochi, Winter Paralympic Torch Lighting. Gadsden also embarked on Al Noor ~ Fragile Vision, a multi-cultural collaborative UK and Middle East project and she recently completed 14 Stations of the Cross paintings for St Joseph's Cathedral, Abu Dhabi.

2015 commissions have included The Four Fridas for GDIF, Almanda for Freewheelers Theatre and Media and ILHAM exhibition and conference at MIA, Qatar.

In 2016 Gadsden was awarded an Artist international Development Fund Award and an a-n Travel Bursary to go to Palestine and has been appointed lead artist for the Lighting of the Rio Paralympic Torch Festival at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

Gadsden was awarded the National Diversity Award 2013: Positive Role Model for Disability was shortlisted for the European Diversity Awards, Hero of the Year 2014 and won Breakthrough UK - National Independent Living Award "Influencing disabled people's participation in society".


Jonathan Hyams - Chair

Jonathan has worked in community development and on equality, diversity and anti-discrimination issues as a practitioner, mentor and trainer for more than twenty five years.

He has wide experience of setting up and managing community and voluntary organisations, partnership work at different levels, and research and consultancy in the statutory and voluntary sectors.

Jonathan's interests include using the arts in community development work, and rural anti-discrimination practice. He is a director of several voluntary organisations, including DASH.

Carrie Slawinska - Administration Assistant

Carrie joined the team in March 2015. She has previously worked as a freelance artist, and in a variety of arts administration and curatorial roles for Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage, most recently as Exhibitions Officer at Bilston Craft Gallery.

"Having worked freelance and for a local authority, working for DASH is a new and exciting learning experience working in the Arts. The Board are really supportive of the great work that DASH are doing. It's an exciting time to join them given their recent successes with the IN commissioning project, Awkward Bastards symposium and our current projects Tu Fewn, Inside and Cultivate to name a few, bringing Disability Arts to mainstream audiences and supporting both established and developing Disabled Artists."

Carrie studied Fine Art at Staffordshire University and has delivered practical arts and crafts sessions in a range of settings, including the Beacon Centre, Wolverhampton. She is also a carer for a family member and has recently trained as a Dementia Friends champion.

Tanya Raabe-Webber - Trustee

Tanya was born to paint and so indeed she did and she still does - with passion drive and commitment! She lives in Pontesbury and dreams of becoming Lady Pontesbury one day!. 

In 2010 tanya was the Winner of Ability Media International Award-Visual Arts and in 2008 she won the DaDa International FestivalVisual Arts. But most recently, Tanya was shortlisted for National Diversity Awards; LifeTime Achievement Award

She has been a practising Visual Artist, devising artworks, running workshop and residencies with Deaf and Disabled people nationally, exploring and challenging the notions of identity, a disabled self in a disabling world.

Tanya gained a BA(HONS) in Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic, an MA in Communication Design at Manchester Metropolitan University as well as a PGCE in FE-Special Education .

Tanya has exhibited as a solo artist and in many group exhibitions nationally.

Through a collaboration with DASH she was Commissioned by Meadow Arts, to create a series of portraits of the staff and volunteers from NT Croft Castle in 2012-13. She joined forces with DASH on their Cultural Olympiad, Unlimited project M21 and was an associate artist with Fittings Multi Media Arts 2009- 2012. Other commissions include BBC2 The Culture Show 2010, DaDa International Fest 2008,  Architects Inside Out: Tate Modern, Art Matters:Tate Britain, Shape and Engage: Explore project.

Jenny Smith - Trustee

Jenny Smith is a freelance Producer and Project Manager, who has worked across all artforms, but specialises in theatre, dance and interactive installation projects. She has experience of working across different sectors, particularly with community development, heritage and health. She joined the board in September 2015.

Jenny has worked in the arts for 15 years in a variety of roles and organisations. She achieved an MA with merit in International Cultural Policy and Management from Warwick University in 2013. 

Jenny was a co-founder of Highly Sprung Performance Company in 2000 after training in theatre at Coventry University. After three years with the theatre company she then moved on to work at Arts Council England, first as Arts Administrator and then Assistant Officer for Combined Arts and Dance, covering both the Dance Officer and Combined Arts Officer roles during her three years there. Jenny then took on the challenge of establishing a local authority arts service in South Shropshire as the first Arts Development Officer at South Shropshire District Council, and continued in a similar role at Shropshire Council when it became a unitary authority.

In Autumn 2012 Jenny made the move into a freelance career, and has had contracts with Birmingham Repertory Theatre (Creative Producer), Birmingham Arts Partnership (Consultant for Birmingham Arts Volunteers project), Birmingham City Council (Connecting Communities Conference Coordinator, Birmingham Arts Board and Cultural Leadership Training Coordinator) and Birmingham Weekender (Street Arts Coordinator). She currently has contracts with BE FESTIVAL (Learning & Participation Producer), Birmingham Hippodrome (Hippodrome Heritage Project Manager) and Creative Black Country (Arts Coordinator).

Pearl Findlay - Trustee

Pearl studied Photojournalism in Cheltenham and Swansea from 2009-2012 alongside working as a Disabled Student's Officer. Her work focuses on disability related issues and 'the disabled gaze'. After graduating, her work was displayed in The Houses of Parliament for Bite the Ballot exhibition and various other galleries across the UK. She began working in Documentary TV and Film in 2013 and currently works as a Researcher for the BBC, working on a range of digital innovation projects within development. Pearl maintains her photography practice by working around social issues and as a freelance photographer. She enjoys getting involved creative projects such as D2Art, Shape Arts and co-producing a documentary on social housing.

Follow Pearl on Twitter

Bhavani Esapathi - Trustee

Bhavani Esapathi is a Huffington Post Blogger and international speaker on digital innovation, social tech and health data. She is also the Founder of The Invisible Labs and WIRED Hack Award Winner 2015 for her blog Chronically Driven, which brings invisible disabilities to mainstream media.

Bhavani has consulted/worked with The British Council, The Goethe Institut and The V&A to name a few. Her interests extend beyond cultural innovation into creative startups and the meaning of being truly inclusive in our world today. She was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society for The Arts (FRSA) and chosen for Arts & Technology pilot programmes at Near Now Studios by the Arts Council England and Innovate UK in 2015, to facilitate social impact within the invisible health space. 

You can find out more about her work via her website or explore her writings on Medium. She also runs The Chronically Driven Letters & The Bhaesa Weekly; two newsletters focussed on invisible health conditions & creative industries respectively.

Feel free to drop her a hello on Twitter @bhaesa!