Black creative talent in Scotland gets board level boost as charity Be United adds four new Trustees

Be United is a charity advocating, nurturing and championing Black people working in the performing arts, screen and events sectors in Scotland.

A woman with long dark curly hair wearing a bright blue patterned jacket (Veronique AA Lapeyre), a man in black and white with short dark hair and a beard wearing a shirt (Louis Parker-Evans), a man in a bright yellow and blue checkered shirt, dark curly hair and beard (Ben Chinchen) and a woman with long dark hair in braids wearing a dress in an intricate red, white and black pattern (Olubukola Popoola).

New Be United Trustees L-R: Veronique AA Lapeyre, Louis Parker-Evans, Ben Chinchen and Olubukola Popoola.

New board members bring expertise in income generation, strategic planning, environmental expertise and creative development and programming. This compliments the legal, fundraising, funding and social justice and activism that already exists on the Be United Board.

Be United, the Scotland based charity addressing the significant underrepresentation and misrepresentation of Black people within the creative industries has announced the appointment of four new board members. The organisation which also addresses the lack of Black people holding senior positions or positions of authority within the creative sectors, delivers a series of programmes to support, develop and showcase Black creative talent in Scotland. Working with organisations across Scotland including Edinburgh International Festival, Fruitmarket, STV Studios, Amazon Studios, Creative Scotland and The Royal Lyceum Theatre amongst others.

New Trustees joining the Be United Board are Veronique AA Lapeyre, Olubukola Popoola, Ben Chinchen and Louis Parker-Evans. Joining as Chair, Scottish-Mauritian Veronique AA Lapeyre is a new generation leader and multihyphenate who works across strategy, programming, commerce and communications. Following her time as Chair of Scottish Contemporary Art Network, 36 year Lapeyre is one of the youngest experienced Board Chairs working in Scotland today.

Olubukola Popoola is an Environmental Consultant with experience in Environmental management, Climate Change and Sustainability. Ben Chinchen is a digital specialist in marketing and fundraising with experience in delivering successful campaigns in the charitable sector. Ben has helped deliver the highest ever grossing fundraising appeals for a former charity employer and has worked to increase website income by a large UK charity by 54% year on year. Louis Parker-Evans is a contemporary dance artist with experience of touring internationally with award winning dance companies. Alongside performing Louis is an experienced Rehearsal Director and Producer.

Speaking on the announcement of the new trustees Be United Executive Director, Emma Sithole said: “The successful recruitment of four new trustees to join our board reflects a significant point within our organisation’s development and journey. The diversity of skills, experience and perspectives on our board enriches our organisation and ultimately our work. Our board continues to be reflective of the communities that we seek to serve, this remains of paramount importance to us. The development we as an organisation have undergone in the past 12 months, is a testament to the drive and ambition that we have to positively impact and influence the Scottish cultural sectors. We are in a very strong position, which will ensure we can continue to meet the challenges and opportunities that come with our work and continued growth.

What this means going forward, we will reach further across Scotland with our programmes, will launch forth new elements of our creative programme thus empowering us to reach and work with more Black creatives. We will remain committed to our advocacy work and continue to strive for more equitable practices across the sector through our partnerships, collaborations and influence.”

New Chair Veronique AA Lapeyre said: "As I step into the role of chair at this dynamic charity, I am excited by the opportunity to lead during a pivotal moment for Be United. Together with the new and existing board members, Executive Director Emma Sithole and the passionate team, we are igniting a new era of changemaking and impact by supporting Black Scottish creatives and producers to achieve their ambitions. With dedication, empathy, and collective effort, we will empower our community and make a tangible difference in the lives of those we support. I

As someone of mixed heritage, Scottish Mauritian, assuming this role, I am deeply moved by the opportunity to represent and uplift the voices of our diverse community alongside a fully BPOC board. Our organisation's mission to advocate, nurture and champion Black people working in the performing arts, screen and events sectors, resonates profoundly with me, and I am committed to ensuring that our leadership reflects the rich tapestry of identities within our midst. Together, we will harness the power of our shared experiences, perspectives, and strengths to drive meaningful change and address the unique challenges facing our community.”

New Trustee Olubukola Popoola said: “Be United is a place where diversity is core and excellence is evident. I am delighted to join the Board as I want to be a part of a community that promotes culture and creativity, and to give back and improve environmental sustainability.”

New Trustee Ben Chinchen said: “I'm honoured to join the Be United Board at this exciting time, twinning my passions for equity, diversity, and fundraising, with a strong commitment to music and the arts. Joining at this pivotal moment, I'm committed to contributing to Be United's growth, supporting its commercial ventures, and championing a diverse and inclusive creative community."

New Trustee Louis Parker-Evans said: “After meeting Emma Sithole (Executive Director) at Clore Leadership Pulse 2023 and seeing how dedicated, passionate and serious she was about addressing imbalances in the sector, I was keen to join the board of Be United not only to further my own professional development and understanding of governance, but to contribute towards a more equitable landscape for a sector and industry I love dearly. Finding an organisation like Be United with fantastic leadership and morals that align with my own is a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to working with the team in this exciting new chapter for the organisation.”

Equalities & Diversity Officer at Creative Scotland, Graham Reid said: “Be United’s appointment of new trustees shows the importance of EDI in action as we strive for Scotland’s culture and creativity to reflect the diversity of its people. Each new appointment will bring a wealth of knowledge and individual lived experience to the make-up of Be United, allowing them to stronger advocate for Black Scottish creatives.”

With support from The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Be United undertook an extensive 360 board and leadership review with engaged governance consultant Briana Pegado, who specialises in intersectional, anti-racist, feminist governance and inclusive recruitment practices. This approach aligned with the organisation's commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels of the organisation. Taking guidance from Briana, Be United implemented an inclusive 3-month board recruitment period, enhanced internal training and onboarding processes and completed an internal review of the charity’s leadership.

The new Trustees will join existing Board Members Boysie Gumede, Dr Thelma Okey-Adibe, Sathia Chetty and Fiyin Fakunle to deliver Be United’s five-year goal to support 500 Black people into, and up in the creative industries in Scotland. Board recruitment continues in 2024 as Be United searches for a new Treasurer. Applications will open in April of this year.

For further information on Be United and the organisations activity please visit the website or follow on Instagram @beunitedworld.


About Be United

Be United is a Charity at the heart of Scotland's cultural evolution, dedicated to fostering live music collaborations and nurturing Black artists within the vibrant Scottish creative sectors. The organisation’s extensive experience, robust industry connections and dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion have established us as leaders in facilitating meaningful change. Be United continues to strive for a culturally rich and diverse Scottish creative sector. We are committed to providing platforms for Black artists to excel and to ensuring that the next generation of artists are well-equipped to deliver exceptional cultural experiences.

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About Be United Board Members

Boysie Gumede - Co-Founder and Honorary Board Member

Boysie co-founded Be United in 2013, runs the South African branch of the organisation, and serves as a Trustee on the board of Be United’s Scottish branch. Boysie is driven by a desire to motivate people to realise, believe, and achieve greater potential in life. He lives by the mantra “Everyone's thoughts matter." In 2023, Boysie was named a finalist for Social Founder of the Year Africa at the FOYA Awards. With deep roots in his community, Boysie is extensively involved in community work. He serves as Chairperson of AmaZulu FC's Newlands Branch and as SGB Chairperson of Buildings, Grounds, Safety, and Security at Riverdene Secondary School in Newlands West. In addition to his work with Be United, Boysie is a creative himself and has pursued acting, featuring in national TV dramas such as Uzalo on SABC1 and Durban Gen on

Dr Thelma Okey-Adibe - Trustee

Dr Thelma Okey-Adibe (PhD) is the founder of Jezreel Consultancy LTD, a research and training company based in Glasgow and is a Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, where she teaches Risk and Society, Business Research Methods and other courses. She has a PhD in Finance, a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods.

She is a Certified member of Market Research Society (MRS) and member of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, Scotland. She is passionate and committed to empowering local communities, and organisations as a means to improving general wellbeing. Thelma is the current chairperson for the Parent and Carers’ Council (PCC) at Holyrood Secondary School and volunteers with the Glasgow City Parents Group (GCPG). She recently received the Heart of Glasgow Award in recognition of her contribution to community development.

Sathia Chetty - Trustee

Sathia Chetty is a social justice campaigner and activist with a professional background in Education. Born in South Africa under the Apartheid regime, Sathia Chetty grew up in the struggle for South Africa’s freedom. He travelled to the UK and studied in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London where he gained his Bachelor of Science, PGCE. Sathia began his teaching career teaching science whilst in London. His social justice and human rights work also grew during his time in London, he established and ran an Anti-Apartheid group in North London Polytech and became an office bearer for Brent Anti-Apartheid Movement. Returning to Edinburgh Sathia was stated as Head of Physics department in Gracemount High School. Presently he remains active in the social justice arena and is an active supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Fiyin Fakunle - Board Secretary

Fiyin Fakunle is a Law with English Law LLB(Hons) Graduate with experience in professional services at Deloitte, Brown Advisory and State Street. Fiyin is a deep thinker and a multifaceted creative who creates and performs both songs and poetry under the name Faksfiyin. She featured in Be United’s Key Creatives: Edinburgh in 2021 and has performed at King Tut's, Fruitmarket, XFringe, SofarSounds, LeopardArts, PITCHScotland, Be United Presents and for the Scottish Government. She founded and produces the Sunday Reminiscing with Fiyin Podcast.

Newly Appointed Board Members

Veronique AA Lapeyre - Chair of the Board

Scottish-Mauritian Veronique AA Lapeyre is a new generation leader and multihyphenate who works across strategy, programming, commerce and communications. Veronique is interested in transcultural conversations & connections, universe building, collectivism, storytelling and has an obsession with archiving as the seeds for our future. Veronique is the Head of Communications & Digital at Craft Scotland (Edinburgh) and sits on the Goldsmiths’ Center (London) Community Advisory Group. Between 2017 - 2022, Veronique was an active member of the Scottish Contemporary Art Network board, including holding the chair role. An advocate for new ways of working and anti-racism action within the arts, Veronique launched her side-project, Project Zanana in 2018, to connect Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and People of Colour working in the creative industries from Scotland, and beyond.

Olubukola Popoola - Trustee

Olubukola Popoola is an Environmental Consultant with experience in Environmental management, Climate Change and Sustainability. She has a Masters Degree in Marine Pollution and Management and another Master Degree in Environmental Management from Glasgow Caledonian University in view. In 2019, Olubukola established U-Environ; an organisation that is concerned about waste management and environmental protection. Under Olubukola's watch, U-Environ has initiated and facilitated various awareness programs to educate local communities on promoting preservation of the environment and cultural diversity amongst different communities and ethnic groups. She's a member of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management (CIWM) and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

Ben Chinchen - Trustee

Ben Chinchen is a digital specialist who’s joined Be United as a Trustee. Ben specialises in marketing and fundraising. Ben has an innovative approach to fundraising and income generation. His experience includes steering digital campaigns to great successes, evident in record-grossing fundraising appeals for two of his former charities. Aside from his professional achievements, Ben is a Politics graduate and holds the IDM Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing.

Louis Parker-Evans - Trustee

Louis is a Contemporary Dance Artist with a Masters Degree from London School of Contemporary Dance and Undergraduate Degree from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. During his professional career he primarily performed and educated nationally and internationally with 2Faced Dance Company and Tavaziva Dance. Touring to Hong Kong, San Francisco, India, Germany and across the UK. Alongside performing Louis is an experienced Rehearsal Director and Producer, responsible for producing Hereford’s first free to access movement and well-being festival, Our City Moves.

Be United Creative Programmes Outline Producing the Future

The Producing the Future programme is designed to equip young individuals, aged 18-25, with skills essential for event production. The curriculum covers creative programming, technical production, project management, budgeting, and marketing, while also targeting career development in the event production industry. Throughout the programme, participants benefited from guest lectures and had the opportunity to plan and execute an original event at Be United. Last June, PTF participants organized a sold-out 'Summer Loving' show at Fruitmarket in Edinburgh, showcasing emerging Black talent based in Scotland.

Be United Presents

Every year since 2021, the Be United Presents programme shines a spotlight on the abundant Black talent in the Scottish music and performance arts scene. Last October, as part of the programme, Be United, in association with Sounds of Soul UK, hosted The Motherland Masquerade Ball at Greyfriars Hall, Virgin Hotels Edinburgh. This extraordinary event served as a platform for raising awareness about the music talent within the Black community.

Collin Hills, Creative Director at Be United, emphasises the programme's mission: 'At Be United, we believe that the true strength of our creative communities lies in their diverse representation, encompassing all backgrounds and experiences. The Motherland Masquerade Ball went beyond a celebration of exceptional talent; it was a powerful statement challenging the status quo by amplifying voices that need to be heard.'

Rise and Shine

Over the coming year, Be United will support the growth and artistic development of a number of talented emerging artists who are committed to careers in the Scottish creative industries. Rise and Shine aspires to make a substantial contribution to the individual and collective growth of the emerging artists it supports. The programme provides a structured yet flexible framework, ensuring that all participants benefit from all the programme has to offer.

Creative Partnerships

Scotland’s First Professional Development and networking event for Black creatives. This event is designed specifically for Black creatives and offers a unique opportunity for people from all creative sectors to network and connect with key industry stakeholders as well as to participate in masterclasses and workshops. It aims to foster the development of industry networks and intercreative connections, while also providing valuable professional development opportunities for Black creatives in Scotland.

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports culture and creativity across all parts of Scotland, distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at Follow us on X, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at

Media contacts

For interview requests and further information please contact Owen O’Leary at [email protected] or call 07815992658.