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Dr Kai Syng Tan FRSA PFHEA

Programme Leader, MA Creative Arts Leadership

Kai (she/her/they) is an award-winning artist-curator and experienced academic developer (Principal Fellow, Advance HE 2022), research innovator and EDI consultant (National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement Culture Change Award; San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate New Visions Award). Hyperactive and tentacular, Kai is best known for generating novel connections and productive antagonisms with diverse and divergent body-minds and bodies of knowledge across disciplinary/geopolitical/cultural boundaries. Kai has been featured on 900 platforms worldwide (including How to Thrive in 2050, now playing on BBC iPlayer), taught/consulted at 100 Higher Educational Institutions (such as University of Helsinki, Tama University and Australian National University), and delivered multiple keynote lectures, masterclasses and CPD globally (including to 870 mental health specialists from 17 countries at the 14th International Conference on ADHD in Berlin 2021). She is the first artist on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Psychiatry Bulletin, the first Creative and Cultural Consultant for UK Adult ADHD Network. Apart from these pro bono roles, Kai is also an active community volunteer, (un-)learning from everyday leaders. What/how/why/whom with and for Kai teaches seeks to catalyse pathways for a (co-)creative and equitable future, with new, diverse and diversified notions of leadership, and new, diverse role models. This is driven by her background as a migrant from a working class household with parents who both dropped out of school by 16. She joined the ManMet in 09/2019 as Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader to develop the new Creative Arts Leadership MA (09/2023). Enquiries about the MA, as well as PhD and Postdoctoral research, are welcome.

*Creative Arts Leadership MA:
*Working with Kai:


-UK Research Innovation (UKRI) Talents, and Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College Member (since 2018 and 2014 respectively, renewed regularly)

-Founder and co-chair Neurodiversity In/And Creative Research Network, of 370 innovators, academics, researchers and practitioners from across creative, cultural, psych-sciences, tech and more sectors, in UK, US, Canada, Australia, India and more:

-Co-curator of the 4-day Pan African Congress 75th Anniversary Celebrations 2020 with Professor of Architecture Ola Uduku and 11 partner organisations including AIU RACE Centre, University of Manchester and Manchester Poetry Library which reached 18.2 million people worldwide. Story: BBC Radio 4 Another story: Resources: YouTube: More Resources

-Co-founder and Co-chair of 55-person Race Equality Activities Planning Group (REAP), which led cultural activities for Black History Month 2021

-EDI Co-lead (Department of Art and Performance) and E&D Group member (Faculty of Arts and Humanities) and helped organise Faculty's first LGBTQIA+ History Month Festival 2021

-Disabled Role Model 2020


- Principal Supervisor for critically-acclaimed composer Daniel Kidane (BBC Proms 2019) 2021-. 'The Sound of Decolonisation'. With Royal College of Northern Music.  

- Principal Supervisor for Erika Conchis 2021-2024:'Can Design Anthropology and co-creative mapping approaches support residents in navigating urban air pollution?' Part of £1.35m LEVERHULME UNIT FOR THE DESIGN OF CITIES OF THE FUTURE (LUDEC) full studentship scheme. Prior to this, Erika worked with Kai as Research Assistant and delivered PAC@75 and a BBC film commission.

- First Supervisor for Anne-Marie Atkinson 2018-: 'Challenging Outsider Art: How are learning disabled artists informing contemporary art?' With Venture Arts.

- Second Supervisor for Olivia Rowland 2020-: 'Articulation ≠ Liberation: Automatic Drawing, Anxiety and Agency'.

Kai welcomes new PhD and post-doctoral researchers, especially in:

-innovative, inter-/transdisciplinary, inclusive thinking, making and change making, creative and liberal arts and humanities, teaching, research & knowledge exchange, collaboration and co-creation
-EDI, particularly neurodiversity, disability, anti-racism & anti-colonialism
-new, critical & creative modalities of leadership; diversifying and widening ‘leadership’; reframing leadership as EDI-centred creative practice
-mobilities, borders, place & geopolitics
-running as an arts & humanities discourse
-neurodivergent leadership, EDI-centred and inclusive research and practice
-Fine/visual art(s)
-public engagement; public/community art; socially-engaged art; art for social change; social art
-Live/performance art
-curatorial research & practice
-art writing; writing as art
-arts-psychiatry, arts-health & art-science
-running as creative arts & humanities discourse
-film/video/media and locative art


Says Kai (statement as of 12/2019): ‘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'. Enquiries welcome. See summary


Kai Syng Tan is a member of the Art and Performance Research Hub.


Tan, KS., 2021. Running Artfully Network: curatorial intervention and creative research, Online, 26/2/2021 - 26/2/2021.

Tan, KS., Uduku, O., 2020. PAC@75: The Fifth Pan-African Conference 75th Anniversary Celebrations, Manchester Metropolitan University, 15/10/2020 - 18/10/2020.

Townsend, P., Tan, K., 2019. Psychoanalysis and the Creative Process, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, KIng's College London, 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. 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., 2018. We sat on a mat and had a chat and made maps! #MagicCarpet (Exhibition of tapestry art and film, Southbank Centre), Southbank Centre, 5/9/2018 - 9/9/2018.

Tan, KS., 2017. Monologue Dialogue 4: Mysticism and Insecurity, Koppel Project Baker Street, 3/5/2017 - 1/7/2017.


Tan, KS., 2021. 'A Neuro-Futuristic 2050', Attenborough Arts Centre.

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., 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., 2023. 'A 'Tentacular Pedagogy' to Lead 2050', European League of Institutes of the Arts' Teachers Academy (ELIA) Academy bootcamp, 24/11/2021 - 4/2/2022.

Tan, KS., 2021. '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, 3/7/2018 - 3/7/2018.

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

Tan, KS., 2019. 'Cat(suit)s and Caring in the Time of COVID-19'.

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., 2019. 'Running Artfully Across Disciplines', St Georges University London & Birkbeck, University of London.

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., 2023. 'An exploration of running as metaphor, methodology, material through the RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale #r3fest 2016'. In Long, J., Sandle, D. (eds.) Interrelationships Between Sport and the Arts, Routledge.

Tan, KS., 2020. 'Run Riot! On Mobilities, Life, and Death (of Civilisation), and the Reveries of Running Artfully'. In Büscher, M., Freudendal-Pedersen, M., Kesselring, S., Kristensen, NG. (eds.) Handbook on Research Methods and Applications for Mobilities, pp. 303-314, Edward Elgar Publishing.

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.


Tan, KS., 2021. 'How to Thrive in 2050'.

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

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


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., 2022. 'Art and psychiatry in the 21st century: here's to more messy - and magical - entanglements', BJPsych Bulletin, 46 (2), pp. 105-108.

Gallo, LMH., Giampietro, V., Zunszain, PA., Tan, KS., 2021. 'Covid-19 and Mental Health: Could Visual Art Exposure Help?', Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

Tan, KS., 2021. 'The artful agile atypical octopussy', Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts, 26 (4), pp. 128-129.

Tan, KS., 2021. 'Towards an anti-racist Fine Art Ph.D.: 'Anti-racism productive antagonisms' (ARPA) for the supervisor, student and examiner', Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 20 (1), pp. 49-63.

Tan, KS., 2020. 'Power, Play and Pedagogy through the PowerPoint Performance-Lecture', International Journal of Management and Applied Research, 7 (3), pp. 382-394.

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.

Kai Syng Tan, 2012. 'MONSTER', Cultural Critique, 80, pp. 105-105.

Tan, KS., 2012. 'Monster: A Work by Kai Syng Tan (Singapore, 2009)', Cultural Critique, 80 (1), pp. 105-106.

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., 2020. '2020: Ten Reasons to Collaborate with Neurodiverse & Creative Allies', Frankfurt University Hospital.

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., 2022. 'An exploration of running as metaphor, methodology, material through the RUN! RUN! RUN! Biennale #r3fest 2016'.

Tan, KS., 2022. 'Using Tentacular Pedagogy to change the HE culture'.

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., Southern, J., 2018. 'The Art & Mobilities Network Inaugural Symposium Instant Journal'.

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)'.