Free Word is run by a small, dedicated staff led by Director Rose Fenton.
Rose Fenton, Director
Rose Fenton founded LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) in 1980 and was its Co-Director until 2005. Since then Rose has continued to work with artists and organisations internationally, developing and facilitating projects across Europe and the Middle East, including FIT (Festivals in Transition). She has worked as an arts policy advisor, co-authoring the Arts, Culture and Creativity Strategy for the London Olympic Park post-2012; and was part of a team developing the shortlisted bid for Lublin, Poland to become European Capital of Culture 2016. Rose is on the Advisory Board and develops projects with Tipping Point, an organisation that brings together scientists and artists in response to the challenge of climate change. She is a Mentor for the Clore Leadership Programme and sits on the boards of Dance Umbrella and Aerowaves. She is a graduate of the civic leadership programme Common Purpose, and has received an Honorary Doctorate from De Montford University and an Honorary Fellowship from Dartington College of Arts. With Lucy Neal she co-wrote The Turning World: Stories from the London International Festival of Theatre (The Gulbenkian Foundation, 2005). In 2005 Rose was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama.
Sharon Ayre, Duty Manager
Sharon moved down to London from the North East in 2008. Having worked for five years in live music events, she turned her back on the rock and roll lifestyle in early 2011 to join Free Word as Duty Manager. She loves Russian literature, Nineteenth Century Gothic and contemporary writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh and Ian McEwan.
Bern Roche Farrelly, Administrative Assistant
Bern was born in Dublin in 1979. He moved to London in 2002 to study Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. Most weekday mornings he can be found at the reception desk in Free Word in his capacity as an Assistant Administrator. His favourite thing about the job is explaining what the centre is to people who walk in off the street just looking for directions. Outside of work he continues to produce drawings, sculptures and performances as a contemporary artist. He enjoys reading footnotes, wearing bowties, drinking coffee and, most of all, talking.
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.
Eleanor Lang, Executive Director
Eleanor has spent six years working for a number of arts organisations including the Donmar Warehouse, Y Touring Theatre Company and BAC, as well as working as a freelance producer. Mostly recently she spent a year at the Bush Theatre as their General Manager. Eleanor is on the advisory board of Non Zero One, Tonic Theatre and Y Touring. She is a board member of Kandinsky Theatre and Rose Bruford College.
Sam Sedgman, Digital Producer and Editor
Sam graduated from the University of Warwick in 2009 with a degree in English and Creative Writing, and moved promptly to London to pursue a career in the theatre. After completing a master’s degree in Text and Performance at RADA and King’s, he started working in the digital media team at the National Theatre. After leaving the NT to become a freelance content producer, he joined the Free Word team in 2012, looking after the website and all things digital. He remains a writer and performer in his spare time, and enjoys board games, TED talks and obscure London trivia.
Rowan Spray, Duty Manager
Rowan is an artist and freelance photographer with a background in literature. She grew up in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, before studying English Literature & Cultural Criticism at Cardiff University, graduating in 2004. Since then she has lived in London, also attending Camberwell College of Art. She has worked at Free Word since 2009 whilst continuing her photographic practise. She especially loves reading long letters from friends.
Katie Witcombe, Administrator and PA to the Director
Katie graduated from Newcastle University with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Modern and Contemporary Cultures in 2011. She proceeded to spend a year travelling in New Zealand and Asia where she learnt how to make mojitos, ride pillion on a motorbike and grow organic blueberries. Katie completed internships at New Writing North and the Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books, and worked as a Support Assistant in a Newcastle primary school, where she discovered her interest in using literature in the creative development of children and young people. A lifelong lover of books, Katie is also passionate about film, theatre and any kind of baked goods.