Hello Culture




Birmingham City University

The Curzon Building:
4 Cardigan Street
B4 7BD
United Kingdom


Hello Culture is an ongoing series of events that explores how digital technologies and media are disrupting the way cultural and heritage organisations can produce, interact, create, curate content, transforming how audiences can connect and engage with cultural experiences.

Identity has always been a social construct largely based on how others physically perceive you. Be that gender, ethnicity, age, disability, sexuality or faith, others base their assumptions on their own inherent conscious and subconscious prejudices.

The rise of the online digital persona makes this subjective identity increasingly irrelevant – and self-identity implicit.

Programme Curator : Lara Ratnaraja

Image by Ian Davies Photography

Twitter: @lararatnaraja
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/lararatnaraja

Lara is a freelance cultural consultant specialising in diversity, innovation, leadership, collaboration and cultural policy implementation within the HE, cultural and digital sector. She develops and delivers projects and policy on how cultural and digital technology intersect for a number of national partners as well as programmes around leadership, resilience and business development for the arts and creative industries. She works with STEAMhouse at Birmingham City University and a is currently delivering and developing cross sector projects with private, public, HE and other education partners.

With Helga Henry, she co-produced RE:Present and ASTONish; leadership development programmes which supported the development of cultural leaders from diverse backgrounds so that the cultural ecology of the city better reflects its changing demographic. Funding partners were Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council.

She was also Programme Director on Creative Warwickshire a programme for creative and digital freelancers and businesses.

She was also a broker on the AHRC Funded CATH Project (Collaborative Triple Helix) which developed 19 collaborative projects across the East and West Midlands with academics from the both Birmingham and Leicester Universities, cultural organisations and digital SMEs. The research project led to long term collaborative working and investment. She subsequently became Senior Research Facilitator leveraging investment for further knowledge transfer and research collaborations between academics, cultural organisations and artists across the sector.

Lara has also developed, managed and delivered successful ERDF, ESF, ACE and other funded and non-funded programmes and projects cross sectors. Is well respected as a key influencer in the development of sector policy.

She is on the board of Stan’s Cafe.


Programme Co-Curator : Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Twitter: @pipedownmrbrown
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbrown102
Website: www.polaroidsandpolarbears.co.uk

Chris is an account manager at leading technical and technology PR agency, Stone Junction.

Stone Junction is a progressive, Stafford based, PR consultancy providing technical PR services to the engineering technology, technology and B2B sectors.

Over the course of his PR career Chris has worked with clients such as LOCOG, Birmingham Hippodrome, Library of Birmingham, Chinese Cultural Administration, Visit Denmark, Birmingham City Council and Colmore Business District.

In August 2013 Chris established Polaroids and Polar Bears, a culture guide for West-Midlands featuring the latest news on dance, theatre, visual arts and music. As part of this, Chris has delivered various workshops on audience development and engagement for cultural organisations, artists and startups.

Programme Co-Curator : Clayton Shaw

Clayton is responsible for overall project delivery of STEAMhouse (Phase 1) and works closely with the team on areas of capital development, financial management, programme design and delivery, marketing and PR, strategic partnerships, research collaborations, and sector development.

STEAMhouse (Phase 1) is a creative innovation centre in Digbeth, Birmingham, UK, with the aim of brokering collaborative relationships between businesses, academics, arts and creative industries to support innovation and prototyping activity for social and economic benefit.  The centre will demonstrate how arts and creativity can be combined with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) to drive innovation, skills, research, and economic growth.

Prior to this he was Associate Director at Sampad, a Birmingham based South Asian arts development organisation, Combined Arts Officer at Arts Council England, Cultural Partnerships Officer at Birmingham City Council, and Events Officer at the Herbert Arts Gallery in Coventry.

He is a passionate advocate of arts and culture and is particularly interested in the interplay between arts, science, technology, and engineering.  He currently occupies board director positions for Culture Central, the Whitworth Wallis Trust, The Other Way Works, and the new Centre for Diverse Arts as project board member.

Clayton is a postgraduate of Fine Art, University of Central England (now BCU), and a Masters graduate in European Cultural Policy and Management, University of Warwick.  He is also an honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the College of Art and Law.


Programme Producer: Charmaine Stint

Charmaine project manages large scale projects across the University, primarily working alongside the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media and the Faculty for Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, bringing business and academia together. The iCI team work in a cross-disciplinary way, using design-led thinking to drive innovative solutions for economic and social challenges, and is underpinned by “cross innovation” – a way of thinking that uses the creative process to explore complex problems and define solutions that deliver economic growth. Charmaine has been working with iCI colleagues to bring these ideas to fruition as part of the STEAMHouse project.


Hello Culture started as a collaboration between Big Cat Group and Lara Ratnaraja in 2011. In response to the ever changing cultural landscape it has grown to encompass new partners and collaborations with universities, policy bodies and cultural institutions, producers and artists.

Hello Culture continues to demonstrate the agility and resilience it has been arguing are essential for cultural and arts organisations to develop by transforming its programme model in order to be responsive to the needs of the sector with conferences in 2011, 2012, 2014 and a Lab bringing together artists, arts organisations, academics and creative technologists to collaborate on new projects, co-curated by Lara Ratnaraja and Simon Whitehouse.