June 27, 2023

Four Early-Career Producers Are Announced As The First Cohort Of Propel

Abel Zhang, Dan Wykes, Gail Simpkins and Sophie Powell have been selected to take part in Propel, a skills development programme for early-career producers and production managers in Bradford.

Propel is designed to prepare people to deliver bold and ambitious new and artistic work through work placements with renowned national venues, festivals and events. The selected producers are Abel Zhang, Dan Wykes, Gail Simpkins and Sophie Powell.

Abel Zhang is an experienced arts professional with a diverse background in creative production and a deep passion for promoting arts and culture in Bradford. His creative practice focuses on theatre, film, and the ability of the arts to foster connections and inspire change. Abel is working with Harrogate International Festivals.

Dan Wykes is a songwriter and stage manager. He is interested in community projects, events and practices that reclaim skills, time and materials from corporate consumerism. Dan is working with Sheffield Theatres.

Gail Simpkins is a production and event manager from Bradford, with a background in live music and radio. Gail spent six years presenting her own radio show on a local radio station and founded several local events, such as North Parade Street Party, and Bradford Dragon Boat Festival. Gail is working with Deer Shed.

Sophie Powell is a Creative Producer and artist, interested in projects and events that share stories, empower and inspire communities through visual arts and performance. Sophie is working with Transform festival.

The selected producers have previously taken part in Bradford Producing Hub’s training programmes and are now ready to take this transformative next step in their careers. Through the support and training of Propel, the participants will progress from having delivered small-scale projects that reach 200 people, to projects that reach more than 10,000.

As part of the programme, Bradford Producing Hub has partnered with four renowned Yorkshire festivals and theatres to act as host organisations, each providing a 50-day paid development opportunity in a unique environment.

The host organisations are Deer Shed a three-day family-friendly festival, bringing together music, arts and science in North Yorkshire parkland; Harrogate International Festivals, producer of over 300 performances per year that champion new and upcoming talent; Sheffield Theatres, a theatre complex, made up of the Crucible, the Playhouse, and the Lyceum; and Transform, a live arts festival bringing bold international performances to Leeds.

Lisa Mallaghan, Director of Bradford Producing Hub, said

Over the last 4 years, Bradford Producing Hub has delivered a range of introductory training for local aspiring creatives. This has set the groundwork for this next phase, which will propel some of our most exciting talent to the next stages of their careers. We can’t wait to see what they go on to deliver for Bradford 2025!

Selected producers from left to right: Sophie Powell, Abel Zhang, Gail Simpkins, Daniel Wykes​.