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Kala Sangam Appoints Arts and Heritage Officers to work across Bradford district

As part of an ambitious two-year engagement project, Kala Sangam and partners Keighley CreativeSouth Square Centre and Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company have appointed four Arts and Heritage Officers to deliver a programme of activities with communities across Bradford district.

The four partners will form a network of creative venues, with each organisation having an Arts & Heritage Officer embedded in their team to work with local communities to build a programme of activities inspired by their heritages. The unique model sees the four Arts and Heritage Officers employed by lead organisation Kala Sangam, but jointly managed with their parent hub.

The four Arts & Heritage Officers are Claire Hudson, Lauren Kelly, Amarjit Singh Bath and Gemma Bailey.

Claire will be based at Kala Sangam and will be working with diverse community groups from Womenzone, The New Libya Society, u3a Bradford, and the Rohingya Centre UK. In Keighley, Lauren will partner with Keighley Neighbourhood Office to identify and work in four residential sites of community interest across the Keighley Wards. Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company run the Rockwell Centre in Thorpe Edge and this is where Amarjit will engage a range of users of the community centre, including their men’s mental health group. At South Square Centre, Gemma will be developing projects with both current building users and local communities including residents from two supported living communities.

Amer Sarai, Head of Community Engagement at Kala Sangam and project manager said: ‘I am so excited to be launching this Arts and Heritage project. We have appointed a brilliant group of talented, diverse officers, who will work closely with their local communities to create bespoke programmes of creative work that capture and celebrate their heritages.

Kala Sangam logo

‘The work developed at each hub will truly be led by the communities they are working with and will really reflect the breadth of experiences, cultures and stories of the people of Bradford.’

Alice Withers from South Square said, ‘We are really looking forward to being part of this project which connects disparate parts of Bradford, together with the Hubs. The project will enable us to build on existing relationships with communities in West Bradford and give us a really exciting opportunity to develop exciting outcomes for communities over a long period of time.’

Gemma Hobbs for Keighley Creative said, ‘I’m really excited by the opportunities this project opens up. Having a new member of the team, with us for the next two years – with her whole role being to go and listen to people about what they want, share stories, and work with local groups to turn these personal histories into great art will be a big boost for the town. As an organisation, the learning this project offers by linking us up with other centres across the district, to share best practice and tour work, is fantastic.’

Katie Mahon from Bloomin’ Buds Theatre Company said, ‘Bloomin’ Buds are delighted to be involved as a community hub as part of this incredible project. It is a huge stepping stone for us to spend time engaging with vulnerable groups to increase access to arts and cultural opportunity with more support and resource. It is also great to be a part of this network at a time of exciting change and opportunity in Bradford. 

This arts and heritage project has been made possible thanks to funding from both the Arts Council administered Department for Culture Media and Sport’s Cultural Development Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

(Image c. Karol Wyszynski. L – R Claire Hudson, Amarjit Singh Bath, Amer Sarai, Lauren Kelly, Gemma Bailey)

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National Lottery Heritage Fund logo
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Work with us

Keighley Creative are currently looking for a new Executive Director to join our team. Could it be you?!

With Bradford’s year as UK City of Culture on the horizon, and a transformational capital project ready to be delivered, Keighley Creative is looking for an exceptional individual to lead the organisation through to its next chapter.

Employed by Kala Sangam but seconded to Keighley Creative, the successful candidate will provide inspirational leadership for Keighley Creative, holding and shaping the organisation’s vision whilst developing a sustainable future for the company.

This is an exciting opportunity to play a leadership role in one of Bradford district’s key cultural organisations in the run up to, during and beyond the City of Culture year. It is a great opportunity for either an experienced leader looking for a new challenge, or an aspiring cultural leader to make a huge impact.

With Keighley Creative due to become the Anchor Tenant in new East Street Arts building in Keighley in 2026, a key responsibility of the role will be working with East Street Arts, Architects and Bradford 2025 to ensure the new building supports and enables the vision of Keighley Creative to be realised.

Alongside leading and managing the staff team at Keighley Creative, the Executive Director will be responsible for building and maintain strategic relationships across Bradford district, including funders such as Arts Council England as Keighley Creative looks to secure National portfolio status from 2027.

Kala Sangam is an equal opportunities employer with a diverse staff team and Board. We would be particularly interested in receiving applications from people from non-traditional arts backgrounds.

Job title: Executive Director, Keighley Creative

Salary: £40,000 gross per annum

Period: Fixed Term contract, end date 31st March 2026.

The post holder will be employed by Kala Sangam and seconded to Keighley Creative.

Hours of work: This is a full-time post (37.5 hours) and will involve flexible working patterns with some evening and weekend work likely.

Closing date: Wednesday 01 May (midday)

Interviews: Thursday 9th May at Keighley Creative, 3-7 Cooke Lane, Keighley, BD21 3PF

Start dateL From July 2024 – contract end date end date 31st March 2026

To apply please visit the Kala Sangam website via the link:

https://www.kalasangam.org/work-with-us/
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Would you like to have your say on Keighley?

Keighley Town’s Fund is seeking new board members and they are looking for more local folk to join the team and provide input on behalf of the people of Keighley.

The board in charge of an ambitious multi-million pound plan to regenerate Keighley is looking for a new Chair and for new members to join them.

As part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda, Keighley was awarded £33.6m via Towns Fund for its Town Investment Plan in 2021, and has since has been allocated up to £20m to deliver a Long Term Plan. 

The Keighley Town Board is hoping to recruit volunteers who can use their skills and local knowledge to deliver these plans which will improve the town centre, boost local infrastructure, provide jobs and training opportunities, as well as bringing wider cultural and social benefits to the town and local area. Though projects such as the major industrial hub at Providence Park are now in delivery stage for the Keighley Towns Fund, the Long Term Plan is in its infancy.

The board will deliver both plans and is made up of representatives from local businesses as well as charitable and voluntary organisations, with our support.

To find out more on this exciting opportunity, please follow the link below:

https://news.bradford.gov.uk/press-releases/e4f7854f-3067-46d4-ac86-694d8ab7d4af/keighley-town-s-fund-seeks-board-members?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

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Wowing the people of Keighley

Last Sunday, Keighley people were wowed by an event inspired by the work of an international women’s organisation.

The Women of the World (WOW) Foundation wanted to bring their WOW Girls Festival bus to town; this has been designed to celebrate and motivate young women, girls and non-binary people with a range of interactive activities.

This news led to local arts charity, Keighley Creative, organising a number of workshops that they hoped would inspire and empower the young women of Keighley. The charity wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day whilst complimenting the work of the WOW Foundation. The event was supported by Bradford Council and funded by the Keighley Town’s Fund.

Almost 400 people attended the event on Sunday 3rd March and the feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive with comments including: “Well done. Fantastic event and well attended.” “What an awesome event.” and “Kids loved it, thanks so much.”

Activities within Keighley Creative offered a host of interesting opportunities for visitors.

A tattoo design workshop encouraged attendees to think about their identity, get creative and draw whilst local self-harm charity, Scar Cover Up Freedom Fund (SCUFF), were on-hand to provide mental health guidance.

Geo Dench tattoo drawing

A fully booked DJ workshop gave participants a taster of mixing music and the Yorkshire Sound Women Network (YSWN) gave children and young people a chance to try looping and use sound making technology.

Live music from young female rock musicians, Sorelle, wowed the crowds with their covers of songs from inspirational female musicians like Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Gwen Stefani and Miley Cyrus.

Sorelle band performing at Keighley Creative
Sorelle perform at Keighley Creative.

Local entrepreneur, Leanne Wright-Byrne of The Kindred Bizzare, ran a hugely popular workshop encouraging visitors to make “blessing bundles” which looked and smelt beautiful.

Well-known local historian and actor, Irene Lofthouse, told the story of an inspiring woman from Keighley’s past, Amyl Jenny Field, “The Red Devil” of Keighley.

Irene Lofthouse outside Keighley Creative
Irene Lofthouse performs. Credit: Beth Nixon

Local community associations also got involved in the day with women from the Eden Community Association providing henna and Highfield offering relaxing and therapeutic hand massages.

Event director, Aimee Grundell, said:

“WOW! What more can we say?! Hundreds of people came and got stuck into a huge range of activities, many of which they had never tried before. We were really impressed with the enthusiasm and positivity from the people of Keighley. We hope that we have given them some great memories and that the event will go on to inspire local people to be even more creative in the future!”

Cat Foley, the Young People’s Producer at The WOW Foundation, said:

“We welcomed almost 400 people into the WOW Bus on Sunday. We loved meeting people of all generations – on some occasions, three generations at a time! Young people used their creativity to tell us a little bit about their identity, their dreams and passions and how we can make the world a fairer and more equal place for all – not to mention having a go in the driver’s seat. Many of them wrote messages for the next young people who will get on the bus to read – so many of these messages were those of kindness, of supporting and uplifting one another and allowing people of all genders to have their voice heard.”

Bradford Council’s Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Transport and Planning Councillor, Alex Ross-Shaw said:

“We were delighted to support the WOW Girls Festival bus, through Bradford Council and the Keighley Towns Fund. The incredible turnout and fantastic feedback shows how well it was received. It is brilliant to see that it has clearly inspired so many of those who were involved.”

For more information on the WOW Foundation, please visit their website or follow their social media.

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Another Merry Maker Faire

This Christmas, Keighley Creative hosted another successful Maker Faire and Open Artist Studios event.

Saturday 16th December was the date chosen to welcome local artists and makers to come and sell their handmade wares from our premises on Cooke Lane in the centre of Keighley. We also opened the upstairs art studios to allow members of the public to look around.

The event was organised by local maker and artist, Leonie Briggs, and was a great success.

Leonie Briggs Keighley artist
Leonie Briggs – Keighley artist and maker. Photo credit: Bob Smith Photography

Stallholders included Twiggy Curly Creations, Charles Humphreys, Rebecca Buchanan, Black Craft by CK, The Happy Turner, Martin Rose, Missing Peace Wellbeing, Anna Gouws and Curiously Colourful whom sold gifts, artworks and jewellery.

Studio artists Dripsy, Martin Cosgrove, Anji Timlin, Jon Britten, Rambling Art and Pippa Croft welcomed visitors and gave them tours around the 1st floor. This was a great opportunity for local people to find out more about what the artists get up to and how they create their unique works.

The fair was held in collaboration with a festive crafts workshop in Keighley Market and a Christmas event at Keighley’s historical Royal Arcade which included a market, Santa’s grotto and underground tours.

For more information on our next Maker Faire, please email admin@keighleycreative.org, visit our What’s On webpage or follow our social media.

All photo credits: Bob Smith Photography

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Let Brilliant Talents Shine Forth

You may have noticed something illuminating in Keighley today. A quote has appeared on the front of Keighley Library that is taken from a document from the original Mechanics Institute that was on North Street.

The idea of the Mechanics Institute was to educate Keighley folk, to let their brilliant talents shine forth, and bring positive change to town by increasing opportunities. An amazing and inspiring message.

The artwork has been designed by local artist Letty McHugh as part of the BDisLiT festival and Keighley’s winter celebrations.

The library was chosen as the location for this non-permanent art installation as it is a place for learning and because of its links to the Mechanics Institute.

We think it’s brill!

Thank you to local Dan Jerwood for the photo.

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We’re Hiring! Festival & Events Director

Festival and Events Director

Full Time (37.5 Hours a Week)
Job Shares Considered

Come and join our small, dynamic team to lead and deliver a year round programme of events, and our annual festival (known locally as KAFF!) All with a focus on arts, film and community.

Closing Date: 17th April

To find out more or to apply, download the forms above, or email: admin@keighleycreative.org

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K-Town Shopper Video added to YouTube

We’ve just added the K-Town Shopper Video to our Youtube channel! Many thanks to filmmaker Danny Hardaker for this fantastic piece of work, it’s a great memory of a fantastic weekend.

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Welcome to Javed Bashir!

Javed has joined our team as Keighley Creative’s new Cultural Heritage and Diversity Lead. He has a rich and varied career to date working to support community cohesion; building inter-faith partnerships; doing lots of work helping up-skill organisations about their Safeguarding practices; as well as helping Supplementary Schools to make sure they have all the guidance they need to thrive.

Although Javed has lived in Keighley for most of his live, much of his work has seen him work Regionally and Nationally, and so this is his opportunity to bring his knowledge home and help make sure that we’re putting on a great mix of events and opportunities for all our communities.

P.S. We are also going to give Javed some drawing lessons… Because he joked about it at interview, and now we want to make that happen 🙂

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Gallery Open over the Summer

Whether you would like to exhibit your work, or join in with creative family activities, Our Hanover Street Gallery is open Wednesdays and Fridays, 10:30am – 3:30pm.

On Wednesdays you can drop in to fun art and craft activities for all the family, and on Fridays you can bring one piece of your work to exhibit in the Gallery until 2nd September, when we will have a big closing event!