Who we are

The Manchester City of Literature executive office consists of:

Ivan Wadeson – Executive Director

Ivan has over 25 years’ experience in the arts and heritage sector leading on business planning, strategic review and transformation programmes including most recently working for Dance Consortia North West, The Dukes in Lancaster and serving for six years as a Committee Member for National Lottery Heritage Fund (nee Heritage Lottery Fund) in the North West. Between 2003 and 2014 Ivan led a series of audience development agencies. He joined All About Audiences (then Arts About Manchester) as Chief Executive in 2003. In autumn 2012, All About Audiences and Audiences London merged to create the new national audience development agency The Audience Agency and Ivan became joint Executive Director alongside Anne Torreggiani (ex-CEO of Audiences London). 

Between 1993 and 1999 he worked at Sadler’s Wells, where as Head of Marketing, he was part of the team that oversaw the National Lottery-funded re-building and re-opening of Sadler’s Wells. He then moved to Manchester to be Marketing Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

He is currently on the Board of Without Walls the outdoor arts consortium.


Jo Flynn – Communications and Partnerships Manager

Jo has years of experience in communications and marketing for the Manchester arts and cultural sector. Jo is also a poet who has just been awarded a Northern Writers’ Award for her current work in progress and awarded funding from Arts Council England. After winning the Roy Fisher Prize for poetry, Jo’s debut pamphlet was published and she’s since been featured at the National Poetry Library in London and been shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize as well as invited to read internationally. Jo is Director of For Books’ Sake, who champion feminist writing by queer writers and writers of marginalised genders.


Hawwa Alam – Community Engagement Manager

Hawwa is a (self-proclaimed) professional multitasker working in the creative, cultural and heritage sector, who holds particular focus on facilitating authentic youth engagement, anti-racist advocacy and supporting institutional change within the arts. Alongside Manchester City of Literature, she leads on communications for the NGO Doctors Worldwide, is a freelance producer, photographer and artist, founder of the qamar collective for young Muslim women in the north, mentor for early-career creatives of colour, and founder of the online platform hawwa, etc, which explores themes of identity, belonging and heritage through visual storytelling.

Her work has been published in a variety of platforms and publications including Oxfam, Adobe, Instagram and TMRW Magazine, whilst her poetry has been used in history classrooms across Manchester and London. In her spare time, she is proud to be the shortest shooting guard on any basketball team she has ever joined, takes the upkeep of her colour-themed bookshelf very seriously, and is consistently creating new zines and lino-prints that will probably never get finished.


Rachel Fallon – Operations Manager

Rachel’s background includes roles in HR and events administration, predominantly within the arts sector. She has previously worked for art organisations such as the National Theatre, English National Ballet, and the Royal Exchange Theatre. Rachel holds a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Salford and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster. As a former young company member at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Rachel has firsthand experience of the positive impact supportive programs can provide to emerging writers in Manchester. In her spare time, Rachel is passionate about researching her Irish heritage and is currently writing a play based on her own family history.

Our Board of Trustees is currently made up of:

Zahid Hussain – Chair

Zahid Hussain is the Chairperson of Manchester City of Literature. He is a novelist (The Curry Mile), screenwriter and writing mentor. In 2009, he co-founded the Manchester Muslim Writers. In 2017, he helped organise Manchester Metropolitan University’s first ever Urdu Poetry Mushaira. He is a former winner of the North West Poetry Slam and delivers talks across the UK.


Katie Popperwell

Katie Popperwell is a cross-disciplinary creative producer and programmer with experience of visual art, music, heritage, literature and performance. She is a senior visiting producer at HOME, Manchester’s centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film, and has produced programmes of work for Manchester International Festival, Selfridges, The University of Manchester, Cityco and The Asia Triennial. Her work as a cultural consultant includes advising on city centre developments, leading on strategic cultural partnerships, and devising projects and initiatives that engage with the culture sector and the wider creative industries. Katie also works as a journalist and broadcaster, regularly chairing conversations with high-profile authors including Nick Hornby, Jennifer Egan and Zadie Smith as part of Manchester Literature Festival. She presents the Salford edition of BBC Radio 4’s flagship arts programme Front Row, has covered music news on BBC 6Music and written for publications including The Guardian, Stylist Magazine and The Big Issue.


Hafsah Aneela Bashir

Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a Manchester-based poet, playwright & performer originally from EastLondon. Founder and co-director of Outside TheFrame Arts, she is passionate about championing voices outside the mainstream, challenging the gatekeepers of knowledge and increasing working class Black and Brown representation within the arts. Winner of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship 2019, she is an Associate Artist with The Poetry Exchange, Associate Artist with Oldham Coliseum Theatre and Supported Artist at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Mcr. Creating socially engaged work with community at its centre, her play Cuts Of The Cloth was commissioned for PUSH Festival 2019 exploring the lived experience of Muslim women and the war on terror. Her debut poetry collection The Celox And The Clot is published by Burning Eye Books. She has worked creatively with Manchester International Festival, Ballet Black Ldn, HOME Theatre Mcr, ManchesterLiterature Festival, ANU Productions Irl and the Imperial War Museum. She is currently writing the libretto for The Bridge Between Breaths, a FormidAbility & Tete a Tete festival commission exploringBritain’s involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade and is founder and Creative Director of the recently launched, Poetry Health Service–a free online service providing poetry panaceas as a tool for connection and healing with over 80 contributing poets.


Karline Smith

Born to Jamaican parents who came to Manchester in the sixties, Karline was raised in Longsight, Manchester. She is the author of the dark and compelling crime novels, Moss Side Massive, and Full Crew. Both books received excellent reviews from, the Times Literary Supplement, and City Life Magazine. Her third novel, Goosebumps and Butterflies Are Fairy Tales a quirky, contemporary romance novel was published recently. She currently works as a full time Training Coordinator while writing a fourth novel, and a collection of commissioned short stories. She is also the author of four published short stories: Letters to Andy Cole (Y.A. short story),–from the anthology The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories, (Penguin), edited by Ra Page; Promise–from the anthology-Brit Pulp! (Sceptre: Hodder & Stoughton), edited by Tony White; Dirty Evil Greed, from the anthology-M.O. Crimes of Practise, (Comma Press), edited by Martin Edwards; The Whistling Bird–from the anthology Resist Stories of Uprising, (Comma Press) edited by Ra Page. Karline loves all things literature related and loves to share this passion with everyone.


Mike Murphy

Mike has worked in publishing for many years, latterly back in the North West, in content and commercial roles. Growing up in Lancashire,what theNorth West offers the literary world is rich and unique, and Mike is delighted to see our Publishing sector continue to grow.If we want literature to reflect our character, we need to have a strong production sector for books. Mancunians, by birth or spirit, own the stories of our city and its new narratives. Mike wants our city and its voices to grab you and shake you up in the best possible way. Mike is driven by identifying barriers to growth and overcoming them, and helping people find their voice and fulfil their potential. Having lived in Edinburgh and Barcelona,he knows how valuable a well-loved City of Literature can be. We are a city steeped in a radical tradition that stands for fairness, being fiercely proud of our own,while global in our outlook and friendships. Mike hopes to bring that to his work with Manchester City of Literature.


Chandan Shergill

Chandan Shergill is the Coordinator of the Young Audiences Content Fund at the British Film Institute, which supports the creation of distinctive public service, high-quality content for audiences up to the age of 18. Chandan is also currently working on a project in Blackpool to recruit under-represented writers with New Writing North and Sky TV, and with BFI Network in the reader pool for the ShortFilm Fund. Chandan hails from Wigan, she studied French and German at the University of Bristol and enjoyed time working abroad in Vienna, Paris, and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. She then spent several years in a talent agency representing television presenters in London, working across numerous factual shows along with children’s and live events. More recently she has worked in the charity and public sector, with roles at Refugee Action and Manchester City Council. She lives in Manchester and enjoys reading (of course!) cooking, yoga and ceramics classes.



Find our full list of partners here.