Award-winning actor, comedian and writer of Alma's Not Normal, Sophie Willan, joins line-up of Culture Cares Conference

Derby Theatre, Derby's Cultural Education Partnership, and partners including the Esmée Fairbairn Young People Leaving Care programme, are excited to announce that award-winning actor, comedian and writer Sophie Willan will join the line-up of speakers at the Culture Cares Conference 2021.

This year's conference is now on sale and will take place both in-person at Derby Theatre and online on Tuesday 16 November, 10am - 5pm.

About Sophie Willan

Actor, comedian, award-winning writer, Sophie Willan



Writer, Actor, Comedian Producer and Activist… Sophie is sharp, eccentric and provocative and fast becoming one of the most exciting rising stars in British comedy.

Sophie is a care leaver, whose personal experiences are part of her life’s mission; to empower, represent and advocate for care experienced young people and marginalised children and adults.

In 2015, Sophie founded non-profit organisation, Stories Of Care; a dynamic and rebellious writing and outreach organisation, that work exclusively with exceptional new writers, from diverse backgrounds. They offer long-term developmental support to their participants so that they can become creative leaders and make personal and political work that smashes through the glass ceilings.

In 2016 she took her debut stand-up show On Record, based on her experiences of growing up in and out of the care system, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A total sell out run and phenomenal critical acclaim followed, with a smash hit nationwide tour in 2017 and a commission to adapt the show into a BBC Radio 4 series.

The cast of Alma's Not Normal

Image: Sophie Willan (in pink) with Nicolas Ashbury, Siobhan Finneran and Lorraine Ashbourne in Alma’s Not Normal. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Expectation

Sophie’s BAFTA Winning comedy series, Alma’s Not Normal, is currently airing on BBC Two. As an Executive Producer on the sitcom, Sophie has also instigated a paid training programme for young people from low income and Care Experienced backgrounds on the production.  

You can also listen to her hugely acclaimed BBC Radio 4 Series Sophie Willan’s Guide To Normality on BBC Sounds. Or tune into her dulcet sounds, on Channel 4 as the much-loved voice of The Circle.

Willan has also appeared on Between The Covers (BBC Two), As Yet Untitled (Dave), Live At The Comedy Store (Comedy Central), Up Late With Rylan (Channel 5), Still Open All Hours (BBC One), Click And Collect (BBC One), Class Dismissed (BBC One), The One Show (BBC One) and The Tez O Clock Show (Channel 4).

Culture Cares Plus One Performance

Image by Chris Webb: Culture Cares Conference 2018 featuring Plus One participants in performance Leaving by Curious Monkey.

About Culture Cares

In response to the current Care Review (England), Culture Cares brings the cultural and care sectors together for insightful and lively conversations, presentations and workshops.

Together we will explore how arts and culture are making a positive impact and creating pathways in the lives of care-experienced young people.

The day features a brand-new performance co-created with care-experienced young people, commissioned by Arts Council England for this event.

The conference has been developed in partnership with partners of the Esmée Fairbairn Young People Leaving Care funding stream, including Curious MonkeyBlue Cabin and Articulate.

Conference Prices

£60 for individuals

£100 for members of organisations and charities

£50 online conference

Please Note: only one ticket per booking can be purchased. For group bookings, each party member must be booked invidividually to allow all delegates’ choices to be selected.


9am - 10am: Registration

10am - 10:15am: Official Welcome from Lucy & Sam (Plus One Ambassadors)

10:15am - 11am: Plus One Performance

11am - 11:30am: Break

11:30am - 11:50am: Key Note Speaker Darren Henley (Chief Executive, Arts Council England)

11:50am - 12pm: Presentation by Emily Bowman (Deputy CEO, The Mighty Creatives)

12pm - 12:30pm: Key Note Speaker Ashley John Baptiste (Journalist and Presenter)

12:30am - 1:30pm: Lunch 

1:30pm - 2:30pm: Breakout Session 1

2:30pm - 3pm: Break

3pm - 4pm: Breakout Session 2

4:15pm - 5pm: Sophie Willan, Final Reflections and Call To Action from Young People

How To Book: In-Person Conference, Lunch & Breakout Sessions

Book for In-Person

During the day there will be two Breakout Sessions, both in the afternoon at 1:30pm and 3pm.

For in-person bookings, you must choose two workshops to attend from the options available during these sessions. Early booking advised to secure your preferred choices.

To view the workshops available, download our Culture Cares Conference 2021 In-Person Workshop Guide:

- Download In-Person Workshop Guide as a PDF

- Download In-Person Workshop Guide as a Word Document

Once you have chosen, simply add your tickets to your basket and you will be asked to select your workshop choices through a drop-down menu.

Lunch will be provided at Derby Theatre for the in-person conference attenders. You will be asked to let us know of any dietary requirements when booking tickets.

How To Book: Online Conference & Breakout Zoom Sessions

Book for Online

The Culture Cares Conference can also be attended online, with all speakers, performances and presentations being livestreamed from Derby Theatre and breakout sessions held on Zoom.

For any online attendees, you will attend two set breakout sessions at 1:30pm and 3pm. You can find out more about the online workshops by downloading our Culture Cares Conference 2021 Online Workshop Guide:

- Download Online Workshop Guide as a PDF

- Download Online Workshop Guide as a Word Document

After booking, livestream and Zoom links will be sent nearer to the time.

Book Your Place

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