Welcome to Free Word. Interested in exploring the political and cultural power of words? Join us at an upcoming event or read about the themes we explore.

Our Staff

Free Word is run by a small, dedicated staff led by Director Roma Backhouse.

Roma Backhouse

Roma grew up in Somerset. She has a lifelong interest in literature, and since 2000 has delivered projects that bridge the culture, social and regeneration sectors.

Roma founded the Bloomsbury Festival in 2006, developing a network of over 100 partners and 60 venues, including The British Museum, Wellcome Collection, UCL, The Place RADA, community organisations and individual artists.

Her cultural programming and producing includes large scale contemporary dance in the Great Court of the British Museum with Icon Dance, world music stages in Russell Square with SOAS, candlelit poetry in hidden architectural spaces with Faber & Faber and large scale participatory projects with Same Sky.

She has also worked as a consultant and advisor with organisations including Visit England, Holborn Community Association and the BBC.

She has degrees in English Literature and Language (Oxford) and Modern Literature and Culture (York), completed a Clore Fellowship in 2013, and lives in Holborn with her husband and son.

Katya Evans
Head of Development

Katya has worked in arts fundraising since 2003. Following graduating with an MA in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths College, University of London, her first fundraising role was as part of a team raising £14 million to build the first purpose designed theatre for children in London, Unicorn Theatre. She went on to work on revenue fundraising at the Design Museum, as Deputy Director of Development at the Almeida Theatre and, most recently, Head of Development at contemporary dance company, Hofesh Shechter Company.

Tim Fletcher
Building Manager

Tim graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with an English Literature with Drama degree in 2006. He then began work for Trestle Theatre Company at their Arts Base in St Albans. Most recently he has worked at Jacksons Lane for two years as Operations Manager before joining the Free Word team in May 2012. He loves reading a good book, attending theatre and live music and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Sophie Freeman
Marketing and Communications Manager (Maternity Cover)

Born and raised south of the river Thames, Sophie has also lived in Manchester, Buenos Aires, Brussels and Bangkok – two of which lived up to their reputation for rain. After graduating with a degree in English and American Literature from the University of Manchester, Sophie spent six years working with Oxfam in their global campaigns team fine tuning her project management and communications skills in activities ranging from creating new, fair tax-inspired lyrics for pop songs for a media stunt to guiding the development of operational plans. Following further travels and a return to London, she worked with Crisis at Christmas ensuring healthcare and advice services were available for homeless guests before joining the Free Word team. Sophie enjoys making the most of all of the arts events on her doorstep but will happily abandon the outside world for the duration of a good book.

Angharad Guy
Marketing and Communications Manager

Angharad spent six years working in the literary arts sector in the United States, before returning to the UK in 2013. During her time in America she worked as programme manager for The Big Read, a national literature programme that supports innovative community reading projects across the US. After returning to the UK, Angharad joined FilmAid International and was responsible for operations and development before becoming deputy director. She has served on the board of directors for two arts organisations and as a panellist for arts grants in Minnesota.

Sophie Kembrey

Sophie graduated from the University of York in 2014 with a degree in English and Related Literature. After working in in the North West, in an archive and for the National Trust, she has now relocated to London. She loves visiting museums and arts festivals, and, when not reading post-colonial literature, she is trying her hand at calligraphy, or on the look-out for new cultural events and yoga classes.

Alex Moran
Front of House and Operations Co-ordinator

Alex studied Screenwriting at the London Film Academy and graduated in 2013. Since then, he has worked as a freelance writer and reader, alongside working in a museum, gallery and theatre space in Liverpool. He loves film, music, the arts, and making bad puns.

Ceri Ellen Payne
Front of House and Operations Co-ordinator

Ceri trained at Rose Bruford College in Stage Management and works part time as a freelance stage & production manager.

She has worked in Arts administration and Theatre management for the best part of 10 years. Other job roles she has undertaken whilst doing this include mail sorter, rail complaints taker and novelty wig washer. She enjoys writing bad poetry and listening to very loud music.

Bryan Savery
Executive Director

Bryan was most recently Executive Director for Rifco and Executive Producer for The Red Room Theatre and Film Company. He is a Fellow of the RSA and in 2012 was made a Freeman of the City of London. His recent roles and clients as a freelance Arts Consultant include; Projects Producer for Somerset House on Dreamthinkspeak and Global Opera, Cultural Policy Project “What Next?”, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Arts Council England, reviewing the National Arts Funding System with Baroness McIntosh, The Young Vic, Soho Theatre, Punchdrunk, Ballet Boyz, Nitro, Theatre is…, Peshkar, Society of London Theatre, Box Clever and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

His previous professional positions over the last 15 years include Executive Director at Tamasha, Executive Director at Hampstead Theatre, General Manager at Almeida Theatre, including Almeida Opera, and Administrator at Caught in the Act Young Peoples Theatre Company (1999 – 2004).

Bryan held the position of Vice Chair of the ITC (Independent Theatre Council) for 6 years and as part of this role was appointed to the Steering Board of Theatre 2005, and was a Trustee of the Queen’s Theatre Trust, The Unicorn Theatre and Secretariat for @Work Project (pan EU Cultural Organisations body).

He has a degree in Theatre and Arts Management from Dartington College of Arts.

Alex Solo
Building Assistant

Alex joined Free Word in October 2015, coming from a rather diverse employment background. Alex has worked as a scenic artist and crew at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster, a self-employed decorator, as well as in customer service and hospitality. An English graduate from Manchester Metropolitan University, he is currently studying for his MA in ‘Issues in Modern Culture’ at UCL. He has put on live music events across both London and Manchester since 2008. In his spare time, Alex enjoys writing, dystopian/utopian narratives and reconnecting with his Greek culture.

Sophie Wardell
Programme Producer

Sophie graduated in English Literature from Exeter University and began work as box office manager of a major Edinburgh Fringe Festival theatre venue. She moved to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in Bristol in the ‘Knowledge Transfer’ team and worked on projects to take humanities research outside of University contexts into business and the creative industries. In 2010 Sophie began work in the Literature team at the British Council, and worked to deliver an international programme of literature activities, author events, workshops, seminars, residencies and spoken word programmes. Sophie worked on partnerships and programmes across EU Europe, Wider Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, and managed a number of key projects including literature activity around the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the current World War One literature centenary programme. Sophie became Programme Producer for Free Word in April 2015.

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