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Dr Kai Syng Tan FRSA SFHEA

Programme Leader, MA/MFA Executive Arts Leadership

Dr Kai Syng Tan FRSA SFHEA joined MMU in 09/2019. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Art & Performance, and Programme leader for a new MA/MFA in Executive Arts Leadership (starting 01/2022).

Says Kai: ‘I’m excited about my new role, which converges my diverse interests as an artist, curator, researcher and consultant of the past twenty-five years. In such troubled, volatile times, managers and practitioners alike must interrogate how and why we are, and how we can and must do things differently. The programmes are timely and urgent too, given the World Economic Forum’s argument that posits creativity as key in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Arts Council England’s £7m investment in leadership. I look forward to working with the arts, creative, cultural and other industries in Manchester, UK and worldwide to unpack, problematise & reimagine the possibilities of 'arts leadership'. Through a dynamic, interdisciplinary, internationalised and inclusive curriculum, and drawing on the School's outstanding track record as the UK's oldest comprehensive arts school (1838), as well as capitalising on the multi-disciplinary environs of Manchester Metropolitan University which is located in the UK's top liveable city (The Economist’s ‘Global Livability Index’, 2019) that has a proud punk history, I wish to invite us to consider ‘arts leadership’ as a critical intervention that can take place not just within the arts, creative and cultural sectors, but beyond, not just in terms of effecting change within organisations, but in culture, in thinking, in behaviour, and in society at large' (12/2019). Enquiries welcome.

Kai also welcomes PhD students, especially in:

-problematising arts, creative and/or cultural leadership
-interdisciplinary thinking+making
-socially-engaged art; art for social change
-art, mobilities, borders, place & geopolitics
-neurodiversity & inclusive practice
-curatorial practice
-art writing; writing as art
-arts-health & art-science entanglements
-running as an arts & humanities discourse
-live art & installation
-film/video/media and locative art


An artist, consultant, curator and academic, Kai is concerned with the body and mind in motion in a world in motion and commotion. She is best known for gathering diverse and divergent bodies and bodies of knowledge to engineer spaces of ‘productive antagonisms’ (Latham & Tan 2016) across disciplinary, geopolitical and cultural boundaries, in what she calls an ‘ill-disciplined’ approach (Tan & Asherson 2018).

Marked by an 'eclectic style and cheeky attitude' (Sydney Morning Herald 2006), 'radical interdisciplinarity' (Alan Latham 2016) and ‘positive atmosphere’ (Guardian 2014), Kai’s performance-lectures, installation, film, critical and creative text have been featured at Biennale of Sydney, Documenta (European Artistic Research Network conference) and Tokyo Designers’ Week. Venues include Science Museum, Southbank Centre, MOMA (New York), Royal Geographical Society and Moscow’s Dom Muzyiki. Media engagement include BBC Radio3 and Fuji TV. Recognition includes National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement Images Award (Culture Change) and San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award. Collections include Museum of London and Fukuoka Art Museum. She has taught in more than 40 higher education institutions (BA-PhD) as lecturer, programme leader and examiner, including Royal College of Art, LASALLE College of Art (Singapore), Australian National University, Tama Art University (Tokyo) and Dumaguete University (Philippines).

Kai is described as ‘absolutely instrumental’ (Gregg Whelan 2015) in opening up what could be called ‘Running Studies’, which explores running as an arts and humanities discourse. This draws on her PhD research which was run at Slade School of Fine Art as a UCL scholar. Her Arts Council England funded Unlimited commission at King’s College London, #MagicCarpet, explores mind wandering, difference and neuro-diversity and has been enjoyed by more than 9500 people and said to ‘create a family for people with ADHD’ (review, The Psychologist). Co-created with disabled colleagues, the £4m Opening and Closing Ceremonies of 8th ASEAN Para Games (with Kai as Visual and Communications Director) was applauded as ‘spectacular’ by Singapore Prime Minister and game-changing and ‘most inclusive’ by the Singapore Association of the Deaf. With Jen Southern and others, she helped to curate the inaugural Arts and Mobilities Network Symposium in Summer 2018 at the Peter Scott Gallery.

Kai is also Artist in Residence and Visiting Research Fellow at King's College London, and UK Research and Innovation and Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College Member. In addition, she is Co-Founder and Co-Manager of the Neurodiversity In/And Creative Research network (125 members in first month), Trustee for Music In Detention, Founder and Lead of RUN! RUN! RUN!, Co-Founder and Manager of the 70-member Running Cultures Research Group, Research Committee Member + Creative and Cultural Consultant of UK Adult ADHD Network (for mental health professionals), Advisor to PsychART (linking psychiatry, creativity and the arts, funded by Royal College of Psychiatry), and Visual and Communications Consultant for Philbeat (Singapore creative company).



-2019: Official Selection, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research in Film Award
-2019, 2012: Sovereign Art Prize Nomination
-2018: National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement Images Competition Award for 'Culture Change'
-2018: Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa (Arts Council England/Home office)
-2018: AHRC Leadership Fellowship grant shortlist (invited to respond)
-2017: Unlimited Main Commissions award (£46,127)
-2017: Invited speaker. BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking on running and thinking
-2016-9: International Commissions Panel member, Unlimited
-2016: BBC / AHRC New Generations Thinkers finalist (60 from 1000 entries). UK
-2016: Official Competition (216 from 2680 entries). Annecy International Animated Film Festival. France
-2016: Presenter. Royal Geographical Society Conference. UK
-2015: Opening and Closing Ceremonies, 8th ASEAN Para Games. Visual Director, Communications Director.
-2015: Presenter. Association of American Geographers Annual Conference. Chicago, USA
-2014: Artangel Open100
-2012: Documenta 2012 (European Artistic Research Network conference). Kassel, Germany
-2012: London Ambassador Excellence Award. Greater London Authority, UK
-2009: UCL Overseas Graduate Scholarship and UCL Research Scholarship est total £100,000; National Arts Council grant
-2009: Life! Best Multimedia Design Award nomination for Vagina Monologues. Singapore
-2008: Representing Singapore: Guangzhou & Nanjing Triennales. China. Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh
-2007: Young Artist Award (£5000). Received from the Singapore President. Singapore
-2007: Permanent public display. Land Transport Authority commission (£25,000). Singapore
-2006: Artist representing Singapore: Biennale of Sydney. Sydney, Australia
-2004: Japanese Experimental Cinema Programme. New York Film Anthology, MOMA, USA. With Toshio Matsumoto
-2003: President’s Young Talents Award. Singapore Art Museum. Singapore
-2002: Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Scholarship $S100,000
2001: Official Selection. Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival New Currents. Japan
-1999: Golden Gate New Visions Merit Award. 42nd San Francisco International Film Festival. USA
-1994: Shell-National Arts Council Arts Scholarship S$150,000



-2018-9: NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (Director: Ute Meta Bauer)
-2017-8: King’s Artist, King’s College London
-2015: Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland
-2012: Slade Summer Residency, London, UK
-2010: Villa Straeuli, Winterthur. Switzerland
-2009: Mixed Bathing World Festival. Japan Foundation. Beppu, Japan
-2007: Trade Routes/Converging Cultures. National Arts Council. Manila, Dumaguete, Philippines.
2006: Biennale of Sydney. Perth, Canberra, Sydney, Australia
-2006: NIFCA-Theatreworks, Helsinki
2004: Flying Circus Project. Theatreworks Singapore. With Atlas Group, Jerome Bel



-2019: Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre UK
-2018: King’s College London Library UK
-2018: Private collectors via Shape Arts UK
-2018: Southeast Asian Performance Collection, Live Art Developmental Agency, UK
-2018: Centre for Contemporary Art, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
-2017: Live Art Developmental Agency UK
-2016: Department of Geography, University College London, UK
-2016: Wellcome Trust Images Library, online
-2015: Leeds Arts University. UK
-2013: Museum of London. UK
-2007: Land Transport Authority. Singapore
-2000: Fukuoka Art Museum. Japan
-1993: United Overseas Bank, Singapore



-From 2020: Co-Founder and Co-Manager, Neurodiversity in/And Creative Research Network
From 2019: Trustee. Music in Detention, UK charity improving lives of immigration detainees through the arts
-From 2018: Peer Review College Member. UKRI Future Leader Fellowship scheme
-From 2018: Co-Founder, Member. 40-member Art & Mobilities Network. Centre for Mobilities Studies, Lancaster Uni
-From 2018: Research Committee Member + + Creative and Cultural Consultant, UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN, network for mental health professionals)
-From 2018: Advisor. PsychArt (supported by Royal College of Psychiatrists, on creativity, art and psychiatry)
-From 2018: Founder, Member. Brain, Art and Computer Interfaces group. With colleagues from School of Computer Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University.
-2018: Founder, Co-leader of Art & Science Creative Collisions group, KCL
-2016: Senior Fellow. Higher Education Academy. UK
-From 2015: Peer Review College Member. Arts and Humanities Research Council
-From 2015: Member. Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and Arts Health: ECR Network
-From 2016: Member. AN The Artists Information Company. Membership number: 40023105
-From 2014: Fellow. Royal Society for the Arts UK. Membership number 8044270
-From 2014: Director, Founder. RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale, International Body for Research
-From 2014: Co-Founder, Manager. 70-member international Running Cultures Research Group
-From 2013: Visual Consultant, Communications Consultant. Philbeat, Singapore



- Research-practice-teaching nexus
- Innovative possibilities of ‘practice-led research’ and ‘publication’. Practice: installation, performance, drawing, mapping, creative and
curatorial practice.
-Widening access and participation: working with ‘non-traditional’ students. Internationalisation.
- Arts in health and mental health. Complicating dominant discourses on 'normality' and 'illness' via through an ‘ill-disciplined’ (Tan and Asherson 2018) approach by highlighting neuro-divergent, female perspectives.
- Interdisciplinary ‘productive antagonisms’ (Latham and Tan, 2016): working with artists, academics and non-academics across disciplinary, artistic, cultural and geopolitical boundaries.
- Body and mind in motion as creative toolkit in a world in (com)motion to engage with self, community, technology, place (in particular the city) and poetic thinking.
-Running as arts and humanities discourse: running as methodology, metaphor and material. ‘Running studies’. Art and mobilities.



-Neurodiversity in/And Creative Research Network (125 members)
- Running Cultures Research Network (74 members)
-RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale #r3fest,


A selection of recent research outputs.


Townsend, P., 2019. Psychoanalysis and the Creative Process (as curator), Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, 28/3/2019 - 26/4/2019.

Tan, KS., 2018. #MagicCarpet tapestry art exhibition, Arts in Mind Festival, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, 4/6/2018 - 25/6/2018.

Tan, KS., 2018. Exhibition of tapestry art and film (Southbank Centre), Southbank Centre, 5/9/2018 - 9/9/2018.

Tan, KS., 2018. Making Mind Wandering Visible.

Tan, KS., 2018. Wandering Minds: exhibition of film 'Of Wanderings and Meaderings', South London Gallery, 5/6/2018 - 5/6/2018.

Tan, KS., 2017. Monologue Dialogue 4: Mysticism and Insecurity, Koppel Project Baker Street, 4/5/2017 - 1/7/2017.


Tan, KS., 2019. 'BJP volume 215 issue 3 Cover and Back matter'.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'Communication materials for CIAO II Version 1.0 Randomised controlled trial of the short term effects of OROS-methylphenidate on ADHD symptoms and behavioural outcomes in young male prisoners with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder', Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'Exceptional talent, the state of fun & islands of after death: one artist/curator/woman's tale of how art & mobilities collide through 100 slides', Peter Scott Gallery.

Tan, KS., 2017. 'Crossed wor(l)ds (unfloored) (brain drawing) (2019 itinerary) (after Brexit, Chagall, Billingham, Wes, Savage (commissioned art installation)', Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry permanent collection.

Tan, KS., 2016. 'The Breathtakingly Brobdingnagian British Blue Battleship Catastrophical Cataclysmic Catalystic Customisable Cosmic Cat(suit)', Wellcome Images Library.


Tan, KS., 2020. 'Ten Reasons to Collaborate with Neurodiverse & Creative Allies (17/03/2020 Lecture + Masterclass for EU-funded consortium of scientists)', Frankfurt University Hospital, 17/3/2020 - 17/3/2020.

Tan, KS., Latham, A., 2019. 'ANTI Adult RUN! RUN! RUN!', Kuopio, Finland, 3/9/2015 - 5/9/2015.

Tan, KS., 2019. 'I Run and Run, Let Out an Earth Shattering Roar, and Turn into a Giant Octopussy and Other Tales of Unreasonable Adjustments (performance-lecture, Southbank Centre)', Southbank Centre, 6/9/2018 - 6/9/2018.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'Exceptional talent, the state of fun & islands of after death: one artist/curator/woman's tale of how art & mobilities collide through 100 slides', Art & Mobilities Network Inaugural Symposium, Peter Scott Gallery, 3/7/2018 - 3/7/2018.

Tan, KS., Tan, P., 2016. 'Celebrate the Extraordinary: 8th ASEAN Para Games Opening & Closing Ceremonies performances and associated outputs', Singapore, 3/12/2015 - 9/12/2015.


Tan, KS., 2019. 'On Art, Neurodivesity & Giant Octopussies: Reflections on art-science commission #MagicCarpet', King's College London, King's College London.

Book Chapters

Tan, KS., 2019. 'Running (in) Your City'. In Aguiar, M., Mathieson, C., Pearce, L. (eds.) Mobilities, Literature, Culture, pp. 163-186, Springer Nature, Palgrave Macmillan.

Tan, KS., 2017. 'Hand-in-Hand: Activating the Body in Motion to Re-Connect with Ourselves and Others amidst a World in Motion and Commotion'. In Drevon, G., Gwiazdzinski, L. (eds.) Chronotopies: Lecture et écriture des mondes en mouvement (Chronotopics: Readings and Writings on a World in Movement), pp. 59-69, Elya Editions, France.


Winkball Media, 2018. 'Interview of Tan by Winkball media'.

Scholarly Editions

Tan, KS., Southern, J., 2018. 'The Art & Mobilities Network Inaugural Symposium Instant Journal', Centre for Mobilities Studies, Centre for Mobilities Studies.


Tan, KS., Stahl, A., 2018. 'A Reflection on Monologue Dialogue 4: Mysticism and Insecurity. Art In An Insecure Age', University College London.

Internet Publications

Tan, KS., 2019. 'Effecting Change in Perspective Is a Challenging (and Hence Critical) Endeavour',

Tan, K., Asherson, P., 2018. 'How 'lofty' art can help the medical world reimagine mental health',

Tan, KS., Asherson, P., 2017. 'Come Sit on a Mat with an Artist and a Psychiatrist to Have a Chat about Mind Wandering, Gingerbread Men, Shark Baits, and the Interface of Normal/abnormal Behaviour',

Journal Articles

Tan, KS., 2019. '#ADHDwomen making #ADHDart to widen the discourse on ADHD, neurodiversity and mental health', PsychART.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'An exploration of running as metaphor, methodology, material through the RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale #r3fest 2016', Sport in Society, 22 (5), pp. 829-845.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'What else could 'neurodiversity' look like?', Disability Arts Online, 3.

Latham, A., Tan, KS., 2017. 'Running into each other: Run! run! run! a festival and a collaboration', Cultural Geographies, 24 (4), pp. 625-630.

Tan, KS., 2016. 'Tough Ultramarathons and Life on the Run', Transfers, 6 (3), pp. 130-137.

Non-Peer Reviewed Articles

Tan, KS., 2016. 'What Has Running Got to Do with Our Divided World?'.

Conference Papers

Proctor, R., Belessiotis-Richards, C., Homayoun, S., Eskinazi, M., Baban, A., Curran, M., Sedgwick, R., Blake, L., Fisher, M., Bansal, A., Tan, KS., 2019. 'Evaluation of a Conference on Psychiatry and the Arts: PsychART 18', Royal College of Psychiatry Congress 2019.

Tan, KS., 2019. 'Too Much/ Not Enough 'Neurodiversity' in UK Art & Academia?', Birkbeck Arts Week, Birkbeck, University of London, 21/5/2019 - 21/5/2019.

Tan, KS., 2016. 'Poster on running and health', Museums in Art & Health Conference, Whitworth Art Gallery.

Tan, KS., 2016. 'RUN! RUN! RUN!', Museums in Art & Health Conference, Whitworth Art Gallery.


Tan, KS., 2019. 'Neurodivergent Leaders in the Cultural and Academic Sectors?'.

Theses and Dissertations

Tan, KS., 2014. 'THE PHYSICAL AND POETIC PROCESSES OF RUNNING A Practice-Related Fine Art Discourse About A Playful Way To Transform Your World Today'.

Other Outputs

Tan, KS., 2020. '2020: Ten Reasons to Collaborate with Neurodiverse & Creative Allies'.

Tan, KS., 2020. 'An exploration of running as metaphor, methodology, material through the RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale #r3fest 2016'.

Tan, KS., 2020. 'Cat(suit)s and Caring in the Time of COVID-19'.

Tan, KS., 2020. 'Running Artfully Across Disciplines'.

Tan, KS., Cianetti, A., Jones, S., 2019. 'Too Much/Not Enough: Neurodiversity and Cultural Production (Podcast)'.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'Art & Mobilities Network Inaugural Symposium'.

Tan, KS., Bozhilova, N., 2018. 'Diagram for Neuroscience journal article'.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale 2018'.

Tan, KS., Latham, A., 2018. 'RUN! RUN! RUN! International Festival of Running 2014'.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'Wandering Minds: participatory art activity / speed dating'.

Tan, KS., 2018. 'Workshop/participatory art with primary school children, Arts in Mind Festival'.

Tan, KS., 2016. 'RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale 2016'.

Tan, KS., 2016. 'Running across borders', Cianetti, A..

Tan, K., 2015. 'Running (in) the City'.

Tan, KS., 2014. 'RUN! RUN! RUN! International Festival of Running 2014 (interdisciplinary programme that I conceptualised, founded, curated and contributed to)'.