Leah Zakss

Music Programme Manager

Leah studied piano and clarinet, winning a county music scholarship and later completing a combined degree in Music and Public Art at Roehampton. Between studies, she organised fundraising gigs for Greenpeace, ran workshops at WOMAD festivals and conducted audience research for Arts Worldwide. In pursuit of family roots, she made many field recordings for the British Library’s International Sound Archive while in Latvia on a visual art travelling scholarship. This led to writing commissions from the Rough Guide to World Music, Music Teacher Magazine and EMI's Hemisphere label.

Joining SASA Music agency, Leah developed a roster of international artists as a show booker, tour producer and occasional promoter. From 1997 to 2001 she represented emerging and established international musicians, from the legendary Buena Vista Social Club, to guitarist Justin Adams, French-Tunisian electronic artist Smadj, the Rajasthani troupe Musafir, and British Asian broadcaster DJ Ritu. Independently, she was working with The Big Chill, co-producing a new Festival Control model in response to the event’s rapid expansion from 7000 to 25,000.

Since 2001, Leah has developed contemporary music projects and strategic partnerships for the British Council across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and China. She spent 2006 acting as Head of Music, and was later seconded to Beijing as Director Arts China. From 2010-2012, Leah was a music specialist Artistic Assessor for Arts Council England. She is a Board Member of her local arts venue, Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre in Walton on Thames, and a Community Governor for a North Surrey primary school.

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