Meet the Team


Isobel Colchester: Chief Executive [email protected]

Isobel joined Poet in the City in January 2014. As Chief Executive, Isobel is responsible for overall management of the charity and curation of its programme, leading its vision to produce inspiring new platforms for poetry. Isobel also chairs the Knowledge Exchange committee at the new Knowledge Quarter in Kings Cross. She has worked across the private, public and charity sectors in strategic roles, with a particular focus on skills development.

Jasmine White: Head of Programme [email protected]

Jasmine joined Poet in the City in June 2017 on the completion of her masters in Arts and Cultural Management from Kings College London in which she specialised in creative audience development. Jasmine curates and produces Poet in the City’s public programme of live events and projects. With the primary goal to employ poetry as a tool to elevate the breadth of stories and experiences embedded in our society and hold space for complex issues to be explored, co-curation with artists and communities runs through the core of Jasmine’s programming approach. Much of this practice has been developed from Jasmine’s background as a Community Organiser working in collaboration with young parents and care leavers, as well as specialising in co-creation approaches for her masters. Jasmine is also currently working with the Social Art Network to build agency for socially engaged artistic practices in the UK.

Sarisha Kumar: Talent & Development Manager [email protected] 

Sarisha joined Poet in the City in August 2016 and leads Poet in the City Producers and other youth participation and emerging talent programmes, connecting cultural institutions with young people and facilitating job creation within and outside of the poetry sector. In 2020 Sarisha set up the National Producers Taskforce, a network of cross-sector organisations addressing key issues surrounding producer talent development and career pathways. Sarisha curates and produces fundraising and corporate sponsorship events and supports the wider artistic programme. Sarisha is passionate about youth voice and increasing access to the arts, she is a member of the Almeida Theatre Youth Advisory Board and an Associate Advisor for The RISE Collective.

Ruby Baker: Senior Creative Producer – Collections in Verse [email protected]

Ruby joined Poet in the City in April 2019 after five years as Creative Producer: Artists and Events at East London Dance where she was responsible for the artist development and professional performance programmes. Before this, Ruby was an independent producer working across festivals, carnivals and outdoor touring shows. As Senior Creative Producer, Ruby leads on Collections in Verse, a partnership project with the British Library that will commission new poetry and create events across England to tell the story of British Library exhibitions.

Oliver Cable: Producer [email protected]

Oliver joined Poet in the City in February 2020 as a Producer, working on the Fail Better 2020 season of in-person and digital events. Prior to this, Oliver ran the social media accounts of companies including classical music promoter Raymond Gubbay, and FT Live, the events arm of the Financial Times. Oliver is a writer, poet, and organiser of spoken word and live music nights in London.


We work with a range of talented freelancers and contributors, in areas from marketing and design to special projects and commissions. Our printing is supported by the team at URBAN Design & Print. Our audio archive is managed by Melanie Low and Chris Kent, and previous podcasts have been produced by Alia Cassam.

Hector Proud has 20 years experience working as a producer, programmer, publisher,
publicist, gallerist, promoter and rabble-rouser, his experience of the arts & entertainment sectors is both broad and deep. As founder and director of The Proud Archivist and CultBrand (and, before that, Idea Generation Gallery & Idea Generation PR) Hector has overseen approaching 1,500 projects ranging across the spectrum of arts, entertainment & culture.

Victoria Bastable began her relationship with Poet in the City as a participant of the Producers scheme, 2017 whilst completing her degree in English Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. Since graduating from the producer’s scheme, Victoria has worked on multiple freelance projects with Poet in the City to produce events, films and poetry experiences. Victoria has just started working for Harmonic artists as a producer, publicist and artist manager whilst continuing to collaborate with Poet in the City.

Lara Costello joined Poet in the City in January 2018 as Creative Marketing Coordinator, a role made possible by the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries scheme. She now works as a freelance creative practitioner, working primarily in live events, festivals and theatre, while still providing freelance marketing support to the organisation.


Lennie Goodings (Chair) is Chair of the UK British publishing house Virago Press. Her authors include among others, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou, Sarah Dunant, Sarah Waters, Naomi Wolf, Joan Bakewell and Marilynne Robinson. She is Canadian and has been in London and with Virago since the late 1970s; working with authors and books is her passion. She is an author herself and has written A Bite of the Apple: Behind the Scenes at Virago Press.  She was a trustee of English PEN and often chairs talks at festivals. 

Steve Abbott As a teenager Steve grew up on the Farley Hill Estate in Luton, and at 18, was the singer and songwriter in Luton punk band UK Decay. He then moved on to create the record label Big Cat (UK ) Records in his early 20’s, named after a Big Youth song, and Arc of Light Classical Record label. He is now an artist manager (Harmonic Artists Ltd ) and a consultant to the Arts , as well as various members clubs , and Luton. He left school in Luton at 16 with 4 GCE’s and credits poetry as the one major discovery that gave him a key to enter into the wider world .

Jason Butwick A partner specialising in employment and partnership law at Dechert LLP, an international law firm, he became a partner in 2000.  Jason has written and lectured extensively on employment and partnership law related matters.  He has contributed to Tolley’s Employment Law Loose-leaf and is the author of the Guide to the National Minimum Wage.

Katrina Larkin co-founder of Fora, leaders of the workspace revolution. Their first space opened in Clerkenwell January 2017 and now has five locations across London and Reading. A pioneer in the festival world, Katrina co-founded The Big Chill Festival, bars and record label. This spawned an industry of similar events, bars, food markets and boutique festivals in the UK. In 2013 Katrina began working with Brockton Capital Fund on the curation, brand re-positioning and redevelopment of Camden Lock Market. She changed press attitudes to the market and curated retail offers of quality. In 2014 Katrina joined Market Tech, the buyer of Camden Lock Market. In addition to overseeing 16 acres of real-estate, she was influential in the planning and launching of their co-working office space ‘The Interchange’.

Alison Rae Alison is Head of Tours and Visiting, National Theatre, London. She has worked in Event and Venue Management, has advised a number of organisations on visitor services, and was part of the working group for Cultural and Creative Skills for the performing arts sector. She was previously Head of House Management at the National Theatre and now heads a new department of Tours and Visiting.

Mary-Alice Stack Mary-Alice is Chief Executive of Creative United, an independent Community Interest Company that specialises in the development of innovative finance solutions to enable growth within the arts and creative industries. She is a graduate of the Courtauld Institute with a BA in the History of Art, and has over 20 years experience working with arts organisations across the charitable sector. Prior to the establishment of Creative United, she was Director of ArtCo Projects at Arts Council England.

Craig Westwood Since August 2016, Craig has been Director of Communications and Research for the Electoral Commission. Immediately prior to this role, Craig was a Partner at the communications agency Pagefield, leading corporate affairs accounts for clients ranging from multi-national brands to small charities. He spent the preceding 10 years at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, including four years leading policy on libraries and three as Private Secretary to the Minister for Culture. Before joining the Civil Service, Craig worked in corporate press offices including at Fourth Estate publishers and at the British Library.