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The What if Experiment supports organisations to build cultures of accountability with an anti-racist lens.

We are a team of Associates who share a hunger for disrupting the power structures at play in the creative and culture sectors, creating spaces to imagine and practice alternatives. 

We are facilitators, thinkers, innovators, artists, activists and community organisers. 

Our specialism is anti-Blackness, and the intersectionality of our team allows us to apply multiple lenses to our approach and respond to what we find. 

The What If Experiment is an evolution of Sour Lemons, 2016-2021, created to disrupt decision making tables in the creative and cultural sectors with leaders who happened to be diverse. Sour Lemons was funded by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Fund, National Lottery Community Fund’s Leaders with Lived Experience Fund and Esmée Fairbairn’s Open Funding for organisations addressing systemic racism. Its legacy is being played out in The What If Experiment’s ongoing commitment to creating anti-racist and human centred practices.

What If… was founded in Dec 2021 by Sade Banks-Tubi and Chloe Osborne.

Sade Banks-Tubi



Sade is a Disrupter, a Dreamer and a Doer who believes that power can and should be dismantled with kindness and compassion.

She creates opportunities that support people to know better, so they can do better. Sade is guided by an abundant imagination that understands there is never one way of doing things, that there are always more questions than answers, and that failure comes with the gift of starting again.

Sade works collaboratively to create safe spaces for herself and others to grow, evolve and unlearn. She moves with tenacity and care. With radical generosity at the heart of her practice, she advocates fiercely for the safety of Black and Global Majority folx.

At The What If Experiment, Sade listens deeply to understand where harm is being caused, what needs to change, and creates strategies that build cultures of belonging.

Chantel Akworkor Thompson


Chantel is an educator, creative and life-long learner who is continuously exploring the world and learning in order to move closer towards a society of people who feel whole as they strive to reach self actualisation and liberation. She is an advocate of creativity who believes that everybody should have an equal opportunity to live, learn and love in a nurturing environment that supports their growth.
Fuelled by a wealth of rich experiences garnered from years traveling the globe to far flung places, living amongst unique societies, she sees the beauty of people feeling free to live life on their own terms, free from the shackles of social injustice and in the light of the effulgence of existence.
At the What If Experiment Chantel offers a safe space where people can feel supported and thrive as they journey towards creating an environment that promotes belonging and supports growth.

Simone Watson-Brown



Simone is a creative architect, process deviser and personal connector with a methodology that brings engaging and experiential learning into the training room.

Simone is intrigued by the human experience - the intricate details that influence our habits, decision-making and behaviours.

At its core, Simone’s practice is people. She came into this practice through creativity. Fuelled by the radical and generous possibilities that rehearsal can afford us as a space to try, and fail until we succeed.

Within the rehearsal space for real life, Simone works with people to lead more impactful professional lives - whether that be by developing the self-esteem of young adults, building trust amongst board members or supporting leaders to be authentic and impactful communicators.

At the What If Experiment, Simone guides organisations through discomfort into accountable action, so that Black and Global Majority People can thrive in their creative endeavours and professional careers.

Alex Ruhland-Syquia



Alex is a passionate and persistent doer, collaborator, and strategist. Fuelled by the potency and potential of collective liberation, they are driven to disrupt and rebuild systems in service of our shared liberation. Alex approaches the work of building an antiracist future as both a human challenge and an infrastructural one. Their particular focus is on the organisational, institutional, and economic forces which reproduce inequity. Calling on diverse experience from across disciplines and sectors, they deploy the lens of their mixed heritage and white passing to scrutinise — and, ultimately, to help reimagine — the hidden structures of oppression.

In their work with What If, Alex holds the process of auditing organisational policies and procedures, working collaboratively with the team to imagine and create institutional alternatives.

Sharan Jaswal



Sharan is an educator, facilitator & changemaker passionate about empowering individuals and communities through transformational learning. She dreams of a world that is equitable and abundant, where power is in the hands of the good, gracious and great.

With a background in youth and education work, Sharan designs and facilitates programmes on gender & racial justice, wellbeing and leadership, and believes in the magic of creative and inclusive learning environments. She enjoys sparking curiosity and powerful conversation to affect meaningful change, and comes with a playful toolkit of strategies to empower groups to journey, learn and grow together.

At the What If Experiment, Sharan helps to create brave and compassionate spaces for people to learn in community, connect to their humanity and co-create a better future for us all.

Jane Trowell


Jane is a deep listener, avid collaborator and sober optimist. She is dedicated to co-learning, repair and equity to release each other in becoming our most capable, visionary, thriving, communitarian selves. As a facilitator, she is committed to holding brave conversations that address, delegitimise and undo whiteness, racism and other oppressions, and support those harmed by them. As a white middle-class cis woman, she practices redistributive justice and is constantly evolving understanding of this.
Jane’s background is in artistic and learning methodologies. These underpin her ongoing training in non-violent communication and conflict transformation. Jane offers long experience of intergenerational working, in cultural activist projects and arts organisations led by people younger than her, in settings where colleagues who are Black and of the global majority are the founders and leaders, and in processes of collective problem-solving and creative visioning.

Sophia Mena

Executive Assistant


Sophia is a creator, facilitator and innovative community advocate who works across Fashion, Events and Youth Engagement within the creative and cultural industries. Her own perseverance and ambition has led her to be able to carve out her own place as an Ecuadorian- French Fashion Stylist, Podcaster and Speaker. She is the founder of Somos The Podcast - the first podcast that archives the lives of creatives from the Latin American and Abya Yala Diaspora in the UK. Sophia is held by her community made up of other cultural disruptors. A community that shares her vision that taking up space has to be with one core aim- to make more abundant, safe and well-paid opportunities for the next generation of young creatives.

At The What If Experiment Sophia applies her experience of juggling a million things at once to her role of time management and organisation. She uses her compassionate and forward planning approach to keep the What If Experiment being able to continue effectively and successfully delivering its methodology for dismantling systemic racism in the creative and cultural sector.

Ebony Montague


She / Her / They / Them

Ebony Montague is an HR associate with the What If Experiment, using both her HR and lived experience to support creative organisations to be anti-racist in their workplace practices.

Ebony is the Director & Founder of HR Said That - an affordable HR service for small-to-medium creative businesses. She is a problem-solver, art-lover and deep-thinker.

She started HR Said That after experiencing and witnessing the impact of poor HR on the workforce. Lack of HR initiatives centred on employee development and wellbeing caused discrimination, burnout and high turnover and for Ebony, this resulted in severe depression and anxiety.

As someone in a junior role at the time, Ebony couldn't make any changes to improve the workforce and was dependent on under-resourced HR departments. Wanting to make real change, Ebony started HR Said That to use her lived experiences to provide an accessible HR service that will improve creative businesses whilst ensuring no-one else has to experience poor HR like she did.

Sheila Fearon-McCaulsky



Sheila is an experienced HR professional who has worked in a variety of industries.

She is a problem solver that is decisive, constructive and passionate when advising her clients.

At the What If Experiment, Sheila offers a flexible and pragmatic approach to finding the right solutions. This supports the development of a culture where everyone can flourish.

Cheryl Ndione



Cheryl is a Facilitator, Coach and Writer.

She believes that everyone has something of great value to share and wants to create environments where people feel safe enough to offer up their gifts.

Her practice is wholistic, practical, and deep. As a coach she travels alongside people to facilitate the unconscious becoming conscious, and as an artist she spends her energy finding ways to share the shadow side of adulting so people feel less alone, and less afraid to be their full selves.

Cheryl’s practice is grounded in the desire to boost the self-esteem of the unseen and to celebrate difference.

At The What If experiment Cheryl’s work focusses on expanding consciousness and supporting a healthy unveiling of the truth of the society with live in, so we can collectively move towards a greater good for all.

malakaï sargeant


malakaï is an embodied artist, proactive producer and unconventional educator from pre-gentrified Hackney who works across theatre, literature and events. Led by curiosity and care, malakaï creates and interrogates through an unapologetically Afroqueer lens. Currently studying towards an MA in Black British Literature, malakaï draws on a range of Black and queer writers, thinkers, artists and academics to inform their practice.

malakaï is intrigued by the root causes of inequity and oppression, believing deeply in dispelling the myths of a constructed, whitewashed history and pursuing truth whilst prioritising the experiences of people who have lived experience of racism. They are driven by their commitment to amplify the paradoxes and beautifully nuanced, multiplicitous experiences of people racialised as 'Black' who have to survive in cold, grey, hostile places like the UK. malakaï's commitment to this is shown through the bespoke nature of their consultancy work, which they do in tandem with being a practising artist; each hat they wear informs the other, in turn inviting engaging, experimental approaches to catalysing anti-racist thought and compassionate action.

2015 What if we disrupt from the inside-out?
2015 What if we disrupt from the inside-out?

As the Community Engagement Manager at The Barbican, Sade brought Chloe in to collaborate on the legacy planning for the Walthamstow Garden Party. This collaboration led to the development of the Creative Citizens Fellowship - a capacity building programme for community partners, The Walthamstow Ideas Kitchen - a model for participatory grantmaking and prepared the ground for LB Walthamstow Borough of Culture in 2019.  This began our relationship and catalysed Sade’s departure from working within cultural Institutions. From this point onwards, We began to experiment with disrupting institutions from the outside. 

2016 What If we disrupt from the outside-in?
2016 What If we disrupt from the outside-in?

Sour Lemons was conceived to level the playing field for Black, Global Majority and working class young leaders wanting to develop careers in the creative and cultural sectors. The Making LEMONADE programme was developed with support of over 22 industry partners and provided each learning cohort with personal and professional development, as well as access to the social capital their privileged peers inherit. The pilot was crowdfunded which evidenced the appetite and need and inspired us to create a business model not reliant on one source of income.

What if Lived Experience was prioritised?
What if Lived Experience was prioritised?

We developed a consultancy model so that our Young Leaders could get paid to work with cultural and creative organisations who were struggling to access Black, Global Majority and working class talent. For a while it was fun and everyone got paid, but we started to realise the limitations of this model. As long as external consultants could tick the boxes that institutions were failing to meet, there was no accountability for long term, embedded change.  The institutional practices around diverse recruitment are deeply flawed and maintain the status quo of white middle class leadership extracting knowledge from Black, Global Majority and working class communities. 

What if we scaled up?
What if we scaled up?

We received large scale grants to sustain and support Sour Lemons. Building on the learnings from the pilot we experimented with scale, saying no to small consultancy projects that didn't value our lived experience and providing wrap-around support for our alumni to support them as they navigated the sector over a three year period. We learned from our Alumni that we had created a safety net for them to show up as their true selves and when they entered working environments, they were forced to assimilate and reduce themselves in order to ‘fit in’.

What if we worked deeper?
What if we worked deeper?

We created a new strand of work that moved away from developing individual leaders and supported organisations to become enabling environments. Hit by the global pandemic, we spread ourselves thinly in an effort to support the diverse needs of our young leaders navigating uncertainty and increased hardship.   We collectively witnessed racialised murders in the US which amplified the global Black Lives Matter movement and highlighted the racial inequites at play in the UK’s creative and cultural sectors.  Our plans accelerated and we sent a call out for organisations that were serious about addressing systemic racism and began a two year partnership with The Royal Court Theatre and Young Vic.   

What if we shared responsibility?
What if we shared responsibility?

After an exhausting year, we took time to rest and consider how we could model collaborative leadership within Sour Lemons. We paused all delivery, invested in a new team and began experimenting with sharing power and responsibility. The challenges of scaling up fast and bringing on a bigger team to manage two programmes simultaneously gave us an ironic insight: we were unintentionally recreating the systems that we were trying to dismantle externally.  At the end of the year, we took the leap to close Sour Lemons and activated a new, more adaptive organisation. The What If Experiment, free from the charitable constraints of its predecessor, was designed to create more surgical, systemic interventions in the creative and cultural sector.

What if we began again?
What if we began again?

“If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down” - Toni Morrison. The What If Experiment is an experiment.  We exist to ask the questions that the sector needs to hear. We give our energy to people who are exploring the answers.