Diverse City was awarded the Clore Duffield Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Prize in 2014, which enabled us to fund community engagement work throughout the Extraordinary Bodies tour of Weighting. We set out to develop a national network of Unexpected Leaders.

These Leaders are creative-thinking activists, who are passionate about social change delivered through the arts. They are Unexpected because they are people who may not usually get the chance to show their true potential to the world.

Between 2015 and 2016, our 10 Unexpected Leaders were selected from Southwark, Stoke-on-Trent, Blackpool & Wyre, Stratford London and Bristol.
Each leader gained experience working with the local community and Extraordinary Bodies circus company. They also received professional coaching to develop their leadership skills and a bursary to continue their personal development.

It has been a privilege to be accepted onto this programme,
I have met some extraordinary people, I have challenged myself (and others!)
and I have learned a lot about my own beliefs and internal drives.

Laura Brennan

The Unexpected Leader/Diverse City programme impacted on me personally,
and once again gave me a great sense of satisfaction and pride
to be part of this amazing inspirational team.

Shiya Mohan

It empowered me, gave me a platform to speak and enabled me to unchain my inability.
The goal I wrote with Unexpected Leaders 2 years ago has been achieved today.

Ayad Mosab

Taking part in the Unexpected Leaders programme enabled DJ to take his leadership skills seriously,
and understand how to he wants his career to develop – both as an artist and leader.

Sarah Archdeacon, PA to DJ


All of the Unexpected Leaders have highlighted what an important intervention the programme was on their development. All have gone on to deliver for Diverse City and Extraordinary Bodies and are now pursuing their own leadership aspirations and paths across the arts.

Ayad Mosab – Now one of Diverse City’s Board of Trustees.
Elana Binysh – Now working as Assistant Producer for Extraordinary Bodies.
Rachel Lambert – Nominated for the Positive Role Model – Disability Category, as part of the National Diversity Awards 2016.
Keziah Benbow – Travelled and worked nationally and internationally with Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists, as part of The Complete Freedom of Truth residencies.
Rick Rodgers – Developed his own company, Uplifting Stunts.
Laura Brennan – Worked with her Local Authority in a Community Development role, in extremely disadvantaged communities in Blackpool.
Shiya Mohan – Completed Uprising Leadership Training with YMCA and is now mentoring for 1000 lives – a community champion in Stoke-on-Trent.
DJ – Workshop leading for Corali amongst other companies.

You can meet the Unexpected Leaders here.

What next for the Unexpected Leaders programme?

This model is one we are keen to roll out with our other activities. Developing Unexpected Leaders is key to changing and diversifying the arts sector and also offers opportunity to develop the skills, talent and experience of those previously ignored or marginalised.

We are currently running a programme with Clore Leadership to develop disabled coaches to work across the arts in 2017-2018.

Photography credits: ©Joe Clarke (1); ©Dom Moore (2); ©Richard Blakemore (Page header image)