About Who we are Staff Claire Sharples A Manchester-made boomerang, Claire has lived and worked in London, Slovakia and China and travelled and volunteered with social, educational and creative projects throughout Europe, China and India. Claire practiced and studied creative arts and design crafts, alongside art, design and film history and theory as an undergraduate in Kingston-upon-Thames; but always had an interest in the wider social contexts and holistic impacts of cultural and creative practices, completing a masters degree in Communication for Development at Malmo University in 2017, during which she focused particularly on the role of creative cultural exchange and participation in an inclusive public sphere. Prior to joining Voluntary Arts England, Claire has worked in communications, coordination and research and evaluation roles across the public and cultural sector. Work in social documentary and participatory media, as well as creative arts in gallery and community contexts, has emphasised widening participation and encouraging the opportunities of creative and cultural practices to be experienced - and defined - by all, in all their diverse forms and expressive mediums. Most recently Claire has worked with Curious Minds to coordinate the national pilot of the Cultural Citizens Programme in the North West, which supported 200 KS3 students across Liverpool and Blackpool to attend and review cultural venues and experiences across the region and beyond. She continues to support their research for programmes with participation and access themes, as well as providing external evaluation consultation for projects such as Cast's Paul Hamlyn Foundation-supported Social Seats project, which seeks to provide more opportunities to attend performances and other events to the diverse audiences across Doncaster, who are not currently accessing their offer. Claire is fascinated by the intersection of tradition and modernity across global and local contexts; and how the innovations made possible by the convergence of personal, social and cultural dimensions and perspectives can be better supported; widening understanding and mutual respect, while supporting new meanings and connections. She volunteers and participates with a number of local community projects supporting social inclusion and community wellbeing, including community led cultural spaces, gardens and language and befriending programmes.