11 International Changemaker Bursary recipients announced


Coventry is famous for its pioneering international links – and they are going to be strengthened through a Coventry City of Culture Trust project aimed at connecting the city with even more people around the world.

Coventry City of Culture Trust, in partnership with the British Council, has chosen 11 changemakers from the city for the creation and development of new online projects that will link them with international counterparts as part of the International Changemakers Digital Collaboration Bursary.

Bursaries of up to £4,000 were made available for new or existing projects that demonstrated how the changemakers could bring global communities together digitally for a shared international goal.

Ideas had to be based around Coventry City of Culture Trust’s 12 themes: Welcome; Sanctuary; Harmony; Freedom; Peace; Utopia; Coventry in the World; Light; Being Human; Hope; Amazing Women; and Green Futures.

The changemakers chosen to deliver a series of projects are Ben Cook, Dr Seyedeh Naseriniaki, melissandre varin, Jennifer Verson, Tarla Patel, Lou Sarabadzic, Nor Aziz, Rozeann Navab, Chaitrali Chitre, Lucy Tomlins and Dom Breadmore.

Their projects include the creation of an interactive game that explores the River Sherbourne in Coventry and the Atuel River in Argentina; a radio story-telling project linking Jewish communities in Coventry and Uzbekistan; and an ambitious project to link creatives in Coventry’s 27 twin cities via an online platform.

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “The International Changemakers Digital Collaboration Bursary was inspired by the city’s pioneering activism after World War Two, which resulted in the creation of the twin city movement. This initiative strengthens our longstanding role as city of collaboration and friendship.

“We wanted projects that built on the city’s international identity. So, we are really excited by the 11 local changemakers we have chosen and their plans to create new global creative connections for the city.

“The past year has been difficult for everyone and we have all, undoubtedly, missed having human contact but what this project underlines, is how we can use digital technology to bring people from all over the world together.”

Ellen Berry, the British Council’s Director for England and Cities, said: “The British Council is delighted to partner with Coventry City of Culture on the International Changemakers Bursary, continuing our wider work supporting and sustaining vital international connections through culture.

“The bursary will support established and emerging changemakers from across Coventry build lasting connections around the world through the lens of arts, culture and digital collaboration. We look forward to seeing these projects realised, supporting Coventry’s international ambitions and showcasing the city’s cultural offer on a global stage.”


Ben Cook

Ben is a documentary and fiction film-maker from the UK. His documentary work has covered mental illness, social housing, food security, the environment, drone warfare, refugees and aids awareness. He has also produced biographies of artists and charity workers. In 2017 he co-founded the 1201 Project. He is co-founder of Anti/Type Films and has written and directed a feature film and several short films, as well as produced numerous other shorts, features, TV pilots and music projects. He teaches practical film-making at universities across the UK, as well as running an online film course.

Dr Seyedeh Naseriniaki

Dr Seyedeh Naseriniaki is the Founder of Chrysalis Craft Coventry CIC. She describes herself as a world citizen striving to make a positive change for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. She has worked with migrant communities for the last 20 years in Asian and European countries.

Seyedeh gained six degrees, such as PhD in Architecture and Design from the University of Genoa and filmmaking from Cinematography University of Tehran.

She is a board member of the City of Sanctuary, a Persian Coventry Godiva sister, a selected pioneer woman of inspiration as an enterprise leader.

She has worked with wide range of national and international NGOs and charities, including Fairtrade and MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières).

melissandre varin

melissandre makes collaboratively using performance arts, filmmaking, and site-specific installations as transformative tools. Commissioned nationally and internationally, melissandre is currently working on a new pro-Black library space in the city, and spatial disruptions at Arcadia Gallery.

melissandre varin, costume designer and dancer Jennifer Lopes Santos, set designer Charl Vinz, musical storyteller Eric Foy and choreographer George Maikel Pires Monteiro based in Coventry, Luxembourg, and Brussels have been invited by Finkapé, a Luxembourg-based association for afro-descendants’ rights to create a series of mixed-media afrofeminist interventions under the name of Papaya.

Jennifer Verson 

Jennifer Verson has just completed her Doctoral Degree at The Centre for Trust, Peace, and Social Relations at Coventry University where she held a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Studentship for her research ‘Performing Peace: Applied Performance and Scriptural Reasoning as a Peacebuilding Process’.  She is a Chicago-born live artist, writer cultural activist and Artistic Director of Migrant Artists Mutual Aid. As the new Creative Director at Coventry Beit Knesset, she is leading on a programme for the 2021 participation in the European Days of Jewish Culture and Heritage.  

Tarla Patel

Tarla Patel is a visual artist based in Coventry, completing an MA in Contemporary Arts at Coventry University in 2019. Tarla’s work explores identity, memory and space through migration and storytelling. Patel is the legacy holder of her father’s photography; the Masterji archive, which was part of the successful launch for Coventry City of Culture. The Masterji archive documents family life and people migrating from the South Asian community to post-war Coventry in the 1950s and continues to 2000. Publications include Masterji (2017)

Lou Sarabadzic

Lou Sarabadzic is a French bilingual writer living in Warwickshire. She writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and her writing in English has appeared in several journals and anthologies. She is also the co-founder of a poetic theatre company, Gertrude, which is one of Belgrade Theatre’s Springboard Companies. Lou regularly delivers Creative Writing workshops in both French and/or English. She completed several artist residencies in the UK and France and received the DOT Award for Digital Literature in January 2018.

For more information about her work, please visit her website: https://www.lousarabadzic.com/

Nor Aziz

My connection with Coventry begins in 1994 when I came to this city with my small family to study Town Planning at Coventry University and a doctoral research degree on climate change and local economy at University of Warwick. I commuted to Surrey for eight years as a sustainability officer at Kingston University London but had to leave the post due to health reasons in 2014. Since then, I have played an active role as a creative engagement practitioner focusing on creating a supporting community using participatory approach to help people realised their potential and live the best life they can.

Rozeann Navab

Roze Navab is a Coventry based Media student who worked for multiple organisations in the local arts scene. Her goal is to build a global network of Coventry’s 26 twin cities, who are connected by collaboration of music, media, and arts. As Managing Director of Twin Studios Project, Roze has worked on numerous projects with many of our twin cities, as well as spoken at virtual global conferences promoting Coventry and the incredible talent pool we have.

Chaitrali S Chitre

I am Chaitrali Chitre, a management professional with an MS in International Business Management from Coventry University. I have done my Masters in Indian classical dancing (Bharatanatyam), Yogasanas and English literature. Founder and Chair of Sahyadri Friends Group -UK, Epic award winner for peer excellence.

To name a few achievements; Honoured as CovHero, Radio interview with BBC CWR and radios. Interview with Geo TV. Mentions in local newspaper like Coventry Telegraph.

Lucy Tomlins

Lucy Tomlins is an artist, cultural producer and director of Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2012, Lucy has evolved a hybrid practice, running a creative matrix that includes making her own art alongside curating exhibitions, discursive or educational residencies and programmes, and overseeing commissions and fabrication for other artists. This sees her toggling between large scale collaboration and working solo; the blending of different strands of activity and understanding them all as essential parts of an artistic practice. She is currently artist-in-residence at Imagineer Productions in Foleshill and living in Warwickshire, UK.






Dom Breadmore/Ludic Rooms

Ludic Rooms create postdigital artworks, experiences and events that empower communities, offering creative opportunities to engage with technologies through experimentation and play. We work with arts, heritage and community organisations, local authorities and education providers to demystify creative technologies and tackle the social challenges of the 21st Century. We also support independent artists through development programmes, commissioning and training initiatives. Working alongside our growing network of Associate Artists – an interdisciplinary mix of technologists, designers and makers – we explore themes such as civic engagement, digital democracy and ownership of space, through active, accessible collaboration, play and making.