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Meet the Sparc Team

The Sparc team is an integral part of the community development work at Valleys Kids and we work with young people in a variety of settings. Using creative techniques the children and young people explore different areas of their lives and the lives of others in a positive way. All of our staff share a passion for igniting creativity in young people.

Miranda Ballin

I’m Miranda Ballin, the Artistic Director of Sparc I arrived in 1990 when I was working for Theatr Powys as an actor and felt completely at home at Valleys Kids. I decided it was time to put down roots after years of touring theatre in schools and communities as a professional actor and theatre director.

In 1998 the amazing staff at Valleys Kids worked with me to put in a lottery application to set up a youth arts project and Sparc was created.

Young people and students who discovered a passion for the arts working alongside the Sparc team now run the project and I love that! The Valleys is my home I want to support young people from here to discover their potential on their terms. Sparc is completely inclusive and anyone can join in our work. I love to work collaboratively with inspirational people and organisations and I am so proud that our staff and young people have worked internationally with people from different cultures and backgrounds and continued to learn from each other.

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Gemma Fraser-Jones

I have been part of Valleys Kids since a child, and after graduating from the University of South Wales I joined the youth arts team in 2009, launching the Flight Wings 16-25 creative programme. I love working with people from all backgrounds and abilities and creating stories through theatre and movement.

Completing my PGCE has allowed me to mentor and support a lot of young people within Valleys Kids and encourage people to enter into further education and training. I love being part of such an inclusive, dynamic and accessible project where everyone is welcome to participate and express themselves in a creative way.

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Kiara Sullivan

I’m Kiara Sullivan, I have been involved with Sparc and Valleys Kids since I was 7 years old. I progressed through drama workshop and onto youth theatre and within these projects I had many wonderful experiences and opportunities. I partook in an International Exchange programme where we got the chance to go over to Poland and work with young people from Poland and Georgia. 

I also performed at the first arts festival run by young people which was Rawffest and took place in Newport. Within my time of being a participant, I also had the opportunity to volunteer at after school club and summer theatre projects at the other bases of Valleys Kids. I became so inspired by the work of the Youth Art Workers and how they were making these opportunities within my community that it made me want to do the same for the new generation of young people coming through.

I graduated in 2020 from UWTSD with a First-Class Honours Degree in Applied Drama. I am the newest Youth Arts Worker within Sparc. I recently worked for the Wales Millennium Centre as the Powerful Interventions Production Assistant, which was the first ever youth-led commission at WMC. Alongside this, I was collaborating on many exciting projects that will hopefully pave the way for the change that is currently needed in the arts sector. These projects include bringing awareness around Kickstart and being heavily involved with a new, developing emerging artist network in the Rhondda Cynon Taff called Make It. I am delighted to be a part of the Future Generation Leadership Academy. As part of this, I am the representative for the Wales Millennium Centre as part of the Together Stronger partnership with Valleys Kids.My passion will always be supporting young people to have their voices heard and to create the change they want.

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Alan Humphreys

I’m Alan Humphreys, I am a Producer in the Creative Learning team at the Wales Millennium Centre.  My role is to oversee the strategic partnership between the Wales Millennium Centre and Sparc Valleys Kids, which aims to provide more creative opportunities for young people in the South Wales Valleys.  I am in the very lucky position to be able to split my time between the Wales Millennium Centre and Sparc, meaning I get to work with two great teams!

I have a background in theatre having spent much of my twenties as a performer, before moving into producing, first through film and then into the wider arts.  I joined the Wales Millennium Centre in 2018 and am passionate about us reaching outside of our home in Cardiff Bay into the Valleys, to actively listen to and learn from the young people in the area and ensure the Centre is as much as their home as it is for the young people in Cardiff.


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Hannah Lad

I'm Hannah and I am an emerging writer, actor and facilitator from Porth in RCT! I enjoy creating pieces of theatre that authentically represents working class audiences and artists! I enjoy to talk about important issues through the form of comedy. I am passionate about making theatre accessible to all, through drama facilitation! I am currently the network / participation lead on the Make It! Emerging Artist network and Sparc associate!  

Yasmin Williams

I'm Yasmin, I grew up in Port Talbot and now live in RCT. I’m an emerging theatre maker, producer and performer. I’m interested in explorative, collaborative processes, telling real stories and discovering new approaches of creating and sharing performance. It’s been so exciting to build a relationship with Sparc since moving to RCT, to be a part of the incredible, important work that they do and to be able to learn and grow with their support. I am now a Sparc Associate and am currently working on Make It! in a marketing and administration role.

Bethan Marlow

I am known in Welsh theatre as a writer that creates fictional worlds that contain real voices. From verbatim theatre to site-specific productions with and within communities on the fringes of our society, my work is always an authentic representation of the Wales we live in today. I focus mostly on the voices of females, the queer community and the working class. Projects with Sparc have included large scale project 'Powerful Interventions' for Festival of Voice 2021, writing group 'Pencil Breakers' and young queer collective of filmmakers 'Madison Project'.

Tom Stupple

Music was a real lifeline for me when I was younger and the confidence that it helped me find really inspired me to become involved with youth arts. Building on a degree in Music and Arts Education I also developed a real passion for drama - its power to bring people together seemed to be a vital antidote to a world that is increasingly pushing us all apart. Since starting as Youth Arts Development Worker with Valleys Kids 16 years ago I have worked with diverse and challenging groups across Wales. 

Running creative projects in schools, prisons, community centers and arts centers. I worked as a Co-Director of Theatr Fforwm Cymru and more recently as a Producer for Wales Millennium Center. In my current role as a freelance Creative Practitioner I run projects for Sparc, WMC, Tanio, NHS, local councils and ACW.

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Ian McAndrew

I’m Ian McAndrew, a freelancer working across a myriad of roles within the participation and engagement arts sector. These roles range from youth arts delivery to project management. I’m deeply interested in all art forms and the impact they have on people and their communities. 

I am very fortunate to have spent 7 formative years, full-time as part of the Sparc team; where I was able to develop the skills required to create thought-provoking and engaging activities and programmes of work for children and young people. I am currently the Make It! Network Support, alongside workshop delivery support for Rhydyfelin Drama Workshop, as a Sparc Associate.

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Kyle Stead

Kyle is a benefit-class actor, producer & creative from the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. He grew up in a single parent household on council estates and started his journey in the creative industry writing poetry exploring the things he was faced with as a youngster in this environment.  

He found the arts and fell in love with it because of the sense of escape it gave him from the things he was faced with as a youth, but now he wants to spin that 180° and use it to give a raw representation of his roots. He co-founded Off Ya Trolley Productions to champion the voices of working class artists and communities. He wants to fight the underrepresentation of artists from a lower socio-economic background and make the arts as diverse as possible. Kyle is currently working as the Assistant Creative Producer with RCT Theatres. He is a recipient of the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary 2020-2022. Kyle’s relationship with Sparc and Valleys Kids started when he began attending their Youth Drama Sessions. He was later supported by Valleys Kids and Sparc through a programme of alternative education. 

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Ryan Stead

Ryan is an Actor and Freelance Creative from the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. Ryan graduated with BA Acting degree in 2019 and later went on to co-found Off Ya Trolley Productions, a local theatre production company set out of the Rhondda, set up to represent and champion working class artists and communities.

Ryan has a long lasting relationship with Valleys Kids and Sparc, recently joining the team as a Sparc Associate, working as a freelance arts facilitator supporting weekly drama sessions.

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Beth Caudle

I’m Beth Caudle, a creative practitioner and storyteller.  I grew up in the wilds of Cornwall and the magical landscape and its many myths and legends ignited in me a love for discovering and sharing stories. This journey has taken me all over the UK where I have worked making theatre for families and leading drama, storytelling and circus projects with many different communities and groups. I now live in Cardiff and I’ve been lucky enough to work with the Sparc team both full time and now freelance for nearly four years. 

I have loved getting to know the beautiful South Wales Valleys and its amazing people and communities.  I am really passionate about exploring how storytelling and creativity can support well-being. As part of the Sparc team and in partnership with Valleys Kids Future Families team, I recently project managed a therapeutic storytelling project called Puddle Jump supporting vulnerable children and families through the Covid-19 lockdowns. I was delighted to be invited to be a Sparc Associate and I can’t wait to see what the future brings with the wonderful creative Sparc team and young people.

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