Monday 22 April 2024

The Keble Association Arts Leadership Awards 2024

Congratulations to Coco Cottam, Alexandra Hart, Xinran Huang, Joe Rachman and Niamh Walker, who were presented this year’s Keble Association Arts Leadership Awards at the annual St Mark’s dinner on Sunday.

Photo (l-r): Mike Fawcett, Donor and Panel Member; Xinran Huang, Award Winner; Coco Cottam, Award Winner; Niamh Walker, Award Winner; Joe Treasure, Panel Member; Joe Rachman, Award Winner; Alexandra Hart, Award Winner

The awards recognise and celebrate artistic excellence and leadership — students who are initiators, innovators and doers — and are made possible through generous funding from Keble alumnus Mike Fawcett (1972 Literae Humaniores).

The 2024 winners:

Coco Cottam (2021 English) has written two plays, both week-long sell-outs, and took one of them to London and the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe. Her work was short-listed at the OUDS New Writing Festival 2023, and her monologue Left of Stage was runner-up. She co-directed her second play Bedbugs, directed Hedda Gabler and was associate director of Every Brilliant Thing. She has written a short film Fool, which won the Oxford Film Society 2023 Winter Screenplay Competition. She has also written poetry and short stories, and is an accomplished photographer. The judges commended her for qualities of collaboration and leadership, and for her eagerness to extend her range and acquire new skills.

In her first two terms at Keble, Alexandra Hart (2023 MSt Creative Writing) (enhanced award) has already taken part in eight theatrical productions. She was stage manager for Hamlet in the O’Reilly, choreographer for The Rocky Horror Picture Show at St John’s and the principle performer in Twisted at St Hilda’s. In December 2023, she founded theatrical production company Show Don’t Tell alongside her coursemates. She produced Bucket List and was associate director of Phantom of the Opera in the O’Reilly. Show Don’t Tell has secured slots at the New Wimbledon Studio and the Edinburgh Fringe. The judges were impressed by her adaptability and creativity, and by the scale of her achievements in a short time. They commended her for identifying a gap in the postgraduate community’s involvement in the arts and taking action to bridge it.

Xinran Huang (2022 DPhil Medical Sciences) (enhanced award) co-founded the Oxford Chinese Orchestra in December 2022 and has served as the Orchestra’s president. She has led on the marketing of the orchestra and collaboration with venues, securing a wide range of engagements including a Freshers Ball, Oxford Union Society Bonfire Night Social, Bodleian Library Spring Festival and the Oxford Chinese New Year Gala – attracting an audience of around one thousand. The judges were impressed by Xinran’s originality and leadership, and especially her ability to leverage partnerships with a range of other societies and University organisations, making a valuable contribution to diversifying the University’s musical landscape.

Joe Rachman (2022 MMath Mathematics) (enhanced award) has over the last year acted in six student theatrical productions and has also launched into directing – co-directing one show and serving as assistant director for another. The judges were impressed by Joe’s willingness to push himself creatively. He co-directed Daddy Long Legs, using a revolving stage and working with the actors on their physicality. Assisted by ingenious marketing, the show was a sell-out and attracted critical acclaim. Joe also starred in Metamorphosis, a production that experimented with binaural sound techniques. In addition to all this, he showed a commendable commitment to the broader college community in helping to write and direct the Keble charity pantomime.

Over the last year, Niamh Walker (2021 MBiomedsci Neuroscience) has produced illustrations for Oxford Blue, including their Freshers Guide. In Michaelmas term she became Oxford Blue’s Creative Director, taking on the leadership of their large team of illustrators. Niamh led the production of the summer and winter 2023 editions of The Blueprint, a termly online magazine of student writing, artwork and photography. During the last two terms, she has also illustrated articles in The Oxford Scientist. The judges commended Niamh’s strong drive, her willingness to learn and her adaptability in approaching new formats and technologies. They were impressed by her ability to collaborate and her genuine enthusiasm for encouraging others and fostering community.