CVAN London Creative Learning Hub launches!

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The launch of the new London Creative Learning Hub brought together creative learning professionals, aspiring creative learning professionals, freelance participatory artists and practitioners engaged in creative learning pedagogies in online conversations.  The Hub holds the space for peer-to-peer discussions to collectively understand the needs of the community, what it is doing and what it needs to remain playful and healthy. In our first meeting, members were interested in understanding what we can we learn from each other and how can we collaborate. 

The new hub responds to the R&D carries out in 2021-23, that identified a lack of networking opportunities for Creative Learning professionals in the city. The findings revealed a need for creative and critical dialogue for Creative Learning workers, and that a collective space to develop practice, workshop ideas and making at scale was needed.

We welcome colleagues at all stages of their career and value everyone’s contribution in this co-produced approach to developing a supportive, collaborative and playful network. In addition to monthly networking sessions we will be delivering practitioner-led Creative Learning professional development workshops for artists at Metroland Studios, Kilburn.

The Steering Group and co-producers of this exciting new network include Najia Bagi, Creative Learning Curator, Mosaic Rooms; Sophie Leighton, Director, Bethlem Gallery; Nicola Freeman, Head of Curatorial & Public Engagement, Government Art Collection,  and Lois Stonock, Founder & Director, Metroland Cultures. These inspiring colleagues opened the event with introduction to their work, their thoughts on Creative Learning and what the Hub will offer. 

Attendees joined the discussion and shared ideas for future meetings and topics for discussion. 

Sophie Leighton 

Sophie is director of the gallery and has responsibility for overseeing the gallery’s current and future activity, strategies and programmes. A curator by training, her previous roles include working at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Freud Museum. She is a Clore Fellow 2017/18, Museums Association associate, PhD student, and fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Bethlem Gallery is an arts organisation based in a mental health hospital in South London. We work with artists to programme creative activities, projects and commissions and have recently started working with schools, alongside working with artists to run regular public workshops, supporting an artist collective and arts provision across and beyond the hospital site. Our programme includes collaborations with other cultural and health organisations including Bethlem Museum of the Mind, with whom we share a building, artists-in-residence, and interdisciplinary research. We engage audiences in learning and debate on the subject of mental health and artistic practice.


Najia Bagi 

Najia is a creative learning curator, artist and yoga teacher who enjoys sharing space, time and creativity with other people. With a special interest in how play, joy, improvisation and identity can intersect with one another, Najia has been lucky enough to work with many incredible artists in her role as Creative Learning Curator at The Mosaic Rooms, London. Projects include Tools for Solidarity (RESOLVE Collective), Between Here and There (Harold Offeh), PlaySpace (El Warcha), Studio School (Aya Haidar, Nia Fekri, Marwan Kaabour), and Play Lab (Chahine Fellahi).

The Mosaic Rooms is a leading non-profit arts organisation and bookshop dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary culture from the Arab world and beyond in London. Established in 2009, as a project of the A.M Qattan Foundation, we have dedicated our work to championing creative and critical voices that are often underrepresented. 


Lois Stonock

Lois the Director of Metroland Cultures, and was previously the Artistic Director of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture. Previous to working on the Brent 2020 programme she founded the Jennie Lee Institute a think-tank focussed on new models for arts & culture to thrive in the UK. She led a 6-year research programme into artistic practice in Syria which was published with Ibraaz. She worked with the British Council in East Asia to develop their programme of international collaboration and exchange across 14 countries and led the Contemporary Art Society’s Public Programme. Previous to this she managed Bloomberg’s Arts & Corporate Philanthropy portfolio across EMEA and curated Bloomberg Space, curating shows with Elizabeth Price, Charles Atlas and Tobias Rehberger. She is a Clore Fellow and a member of the Royal Society of the Arts. She trained as an artist at Goldsmiths and sits on the board of Open School East and Southpaw Dance.

Metroland Cultures has a mission to build, share and support art and culture in the London Borough of Brent. We work with the communities around us, to amplify their stories of life here. And we support artists to tell new ones.

Nicola Freeman

Nicola heads the Curatorial team at the Government Art Collection. She develops external partnerships and manages the curatorial direction including identifying acquisitions, displays and public programming, with an eye to diversity and representation. She was previously Director of Engagement & Learning at The Hepworth Wakefield. Nicola brings experience from roles that include Interpretation Manager at The National Gallery, and editor and writer for leading arts organisations such as Royal Academy of Arts, and the British Film Institute. The Government Art Collection is almost 125 years-old and displays works of art in British government buildings in the UK and over 125 countries around the world. Its 15,000 works of art from the 16th century to today promote British art, history and culture worldwide.