Our team

Liz O’Neill
Chief Executive / Artistic Director

My job is to work strategically to make Z-arts the best venue for children and families that it can. I chair the Big Imaginations network of children’s theatre programmers; Vice-Chair for TYA: England (Theatre for Young Audiences) and a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award. Apparently, I demonstrated my leadership potential when I was five years old, when I set up a battle between the boys and the girls in nursery, piling all the class furniture up in the middle of the room as a blockade.

Gary Padden
General Manager
Saskia Metcalf
Creative Development Manager
Zoe Pickering
Children’s Theatre Programme & Big Imaginations ManagerI am the Children’s Theatre Programme and Big Imaginations Manager. I manage the Big Imaginations network which is 22 venues. I do believe in fairies, I do, I DO! 
Tiffany Bowman
Administration OfficerI provide administrative assistance and support to the whole of Z-arts, in particular the Big Imaginations programme and creative team. I can play clarinet, guitar, ukulele, keyboard, alto & tenor saxophone by ear.
Gill Balfour
Assistant Creative ManagerMy job at Z-arts is varied, creative and I get to meet loads of amazing children and young people! I love being super active. I cycle, do yoga and dance as much as possible wherever I can. My other hobbies are chilling with my cats, making art and eating crisps.
Emma Hardman
House ManagerAs House Manager, you can be responsible for anything on any given day! My actual job is to look after the front of house, so really YOU the audience! I oversee the box office, café, and housekeeping teams. My pockets are always full of LEGO and lolly sticks. Children feel comfortable spitting food they don’t like into my hands.
Paul Roberts
Ticketing & Information Supervisor
Julie Ridley
Ticketing & Information Assistant. I have been a full-time parent since 1990. 😫 Believe it or not, I used to be a trampoline coach!
Yemi Bolatiwa
Engagement Officer & Volunteer CoordinatorI’m the engagement officer. I coordinate and deliver events and workshops as part of our internal creative programme, and across Greater Manchester. When it comes to community arts and family engagement projects, you’ll probably see me about somewhere. My full name has 19 syllables!
Natasha Scott
Resident Performance Artist & CoordinatorI was once the Children In Need Coordinator and before that freelance drama/dance teacher, storyteller & script writer here at Z-arts. I love educating, enhancing and guiding young people on the creative journeys and watching them achieve and graduate to the next level. I once travelled around India for 6 months!
Steve Curtis
Technical & Premises Director
Jason Hall
Senior TechnicianThe seaside town of Blackpool is where I first got to work in technical theatre. Leaving the bright lights for the big city of Manchester, I continued to freelance in technical theatre work whilst studying in sound recording which led me on to live sound and broadcasting. Many years later (and a few thousand miles of touring) I reside at Z arts as Senior technician where I facilitate sound, lighting, video, and stage.
Lucca Colonna
Deputy House ManagerMy role at Z-arts involves keeping the box office alive so you guys can come and enjoy all our shows and activities! I once single handily started a Mexican wave at the Royal Albert Hall. All it took was perseverance and determination.
Resident Visual ArtistI am the Resident Visual Artist and run the Art Stars, Family Art Stars and Z-arts sessions!

Our facilitators:

Helena (Cheer Stars)

Hi! My names Helena and I teach Cheer Stars at Z-arts. I have been dancing for most of my life and along the way trained in acrobatics and cheerleading. A proud point in my life was representing Team England at the World Cheerleading Championships in 2017. Fun fact: I love handstands and think I’m better on my hands than my feet!

Jana (Drama Stars 6-8, 8-10, ZYP)

I’m Jana! I run Drama Stars for 6-8 year olds and 9-10 year olds, and ZYP for older young people. I have great people skills – theatre and clown training comes in handy, and comedy is a great universal language! I have worked as an Artist, producer and freelance creative facilitator since 2005, both in Manchester and New York, and I love what I do.

Kirsty (Digital Discoverers)

Hi, I’m Kirsty! I’m an artist and creative facilitator, and I run Digital Discoverers at Z-arts. I love making, painting, creating and helping others do it too! Toni-Dee (Drama Stars 4-6, 7-10)

Yemi (Pop Stars)

I’m Yemi Bolatiwa, and I’m a soul singer in Manchester. I have residencies in some of the city’s best loved venues, festivals around the UK, and I’ve featured on BBC Introducing, I run Pop Stars at Z-arts, and I bring my musical experience to share with the young people at Z-arts!