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Taking Shape: Introducing Zha Olu

Last year we received funding to develop Taking Shape, a new artist development programme. This was a paid opportunity for 6 established creative practitioners living and working locally to receive valuable training and support to develop their work with communities. Over the last few months, they have received training in project planning, facilitation, evaluation, environmental responsibility, first aid and safeguarding all whilst being supported to develop their own community projects.

As Taking Shape progresses, we thought it was about time we introduced you to the practitioners we have had the pleasure of working with over the last few months.


Zha Olu

Singer-Songwriter/ Producer

Describe your artistic practice:

So, Zha Olu (she/they) is a Singer-Songwriter, Musician, Youth Worker and budding Curator/Producer from Greater Manchester, with a real heart for community especially LGBTQ+ people, young people and those from marginalized communities. They have already dipped their toes in the water of curation and producing with their first album launch event in 2020. Zha's own event in their local Wigan community supporting those who identify as women and non-binary people in an amazing creative line up for 'Let's Not Hear It For The Boys' in 2022 - after great success; this event will return to Fatbird in Wigan on 24th May 2024. Now working with Young people as head of Music and Media Department in her local centre for young people aged 8-19 and up to 25 with additional needs; she is on a journey of development to use curation and events to mentor and nurture local young talent. She was also awarded a DYCP through the Arts Council and is working with Transcreative, Artist Wellbeing company amongst others to grow and learn! She has also been working with Everyday and Down To Earth on the Taking Shape Research projects.

Why did you apply for the Taking Shape Artist Development Programme?

I applied for the Taking Shape Artist Development because I was at a turning point in my career and starting to develop in my producing skills. I was also about to step into a new role as a youth worker and I was interested in learning how to work with young people on projects on a large scale.

What do you think of the programme so far?

Very useful, and I have made some good friends and contacts too.

Who are you inspired by?

Kate O'Donnell from Transcreative who is a current mentor of mine - a fantastic producer of LGBTQ & Trans People. Darren Pritchard of House Of Ghetto - always an amazing facilitator of people especially queer POC.

You can follow Zha on Instagram here.

Check back next week to meet the next artist involved in our Taking Shape Artist Development Programme!


This programme is supported with funding from Arts Council England, Down to Earth and Wigan Council.


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