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Welcoming our new Exec Director at Keighley Creative

Following a competitive recruitment process, Riaz Meer, one of the founders of Keighley Arts and Film Festival, will take up a post leading creative arts in the town over the next two years.

The experienced film and television editor will oversee Keighley Creative’s organisational development and transition to a permanent base. His brief will include working with East Street Arts, which is due to take over the lease of the former Sunwin House building on Hanover Street, with Keighley Creative as its tenant from 2026. 

Riaz will work to build relationships with organisations including Bradford Council, Keighley Town Council, Keighley Business Improvement District, Bradford 2025, and the Towns Fund board and its long-term plan for the town. He will also develop a fundraising strategy for the organisation that secures its long-term future.

An important part of the role is to ensure Keighley Creative has a sustainable plan for its development. Riaz was previously a trustee of the charity for more than four years. In 2018, he was instrumental in setting up Keighley Creative Space, which became the current charity in 2020. He is currently vice-chair of the Media Reform Coalition and is active in the broadcasting and entertainments union Bectu.

Riaz Meer, Executive Director at Keighley Creative. Photo credit: Bob Smith Photography
Riaz Meer, who has been appointed Kala Sangam’s executive director seconded to Keighley Creative. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

He said: “I’m thrilled to join the team at Keighley Creative. There really is no place like Keighley, and no arts organisation quite like Keighley Creative. I’ve been involved as a trustee in trying to increase arts provision for the people of Keighley. I’m delighted to now step up and play a more active role in the town. 

“The next two years offer an amazing set of challenges and opportunities. Keighley must and will play a vital part in Bradford’s Capital of Culture 2025. At the same time, we will see the complete renovation of Sunwin House and the establishment of a permanent home for Keighley Creative. These are once-in-a-generation opportunities and for the sake of the people of Keighley we must seize them.

“There is no other arts organisation I would consider throwing my lot in with. I am sure there will be testing times ahead, but we have the expertise of East Street Arts, Bradford Council, Bradford 2025 and Kala Sangam to draw on. And I also have the support of our fantastic team of staff and our energetic board of trustees.

“For me, this is the right time and Keighley Creative is the right place.” 

The executive director post has been funded by major Bradford arts organisation Kala Sangam through their Cultural Development Fund award from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The post is the second Kala Sangam appointment to be seconded to Keighley Creative. In April, Lauren Kelly began working as Arts and Heritage Officer with the charity.

Alex Croft, creative director of Kala Sangam, said: “I am so pleased that we’ve been able to appoint such an exceptional candidate to the role of executive director at Keighley Creative. Our Cultural Development Fund project is aiming to make a real difference across Bradford district over the next two years, and a major priority has always been supporting Keighley to ensure arts and cultural provision is protected and grown in the town. I think we’re in safe hands with Riaz at the helm!”

To find out more, please email riaz@keighleycreative.org

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Welcome Lauren!

A major charity has appointed a worker to help Keighley people celebrate their heritage through the arts.

Lauren Kelly will work with community groups in a two-year project run by Kala Sangam. The Bradford-based organisation has appointed four arts and heritage officers, one of whom, Lauren, will be based in Keighley. She will work with Keighley Creative, based at its hub in the former Argos building on Cooke Lane.

Lauren Kelly, who has been appointed arts and heritage officer at Kala Sangam and seconded to Keighley Creative. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Lauren’s brief is to identify and engage with a number of communities over the next two years, as the Keighley heads into Bradford’s City of Culture celebrations in 2025. The Kala Sangam-Keighley Creative project will culminate with an arts event involving a professional artist.


She said: “The whole point of the project is for each of the post holders to get to know their communities, where they’re based. It’s community-led: the heritage stories of the areas and the residents who live here. The
end goal for the two years is to find an artist and commission a massive artistic response to those heritage stories.”


She has already established links with the Sue Belcher Centre in Bracken Bank, having worked with the One In A Million youth group on a mural with Aimee Grundell of Keighley Creative. Lauren has previously worked as a volunteer on several Keighley Creative events.
Over the next few weeks, she will be working with Bradford Council’s ward officers to forge links with communities across the Keighley area.

Lauren Kelly volunteering at Women of the World event at Keighley Creative
Lauren volunteering at a recent event at Keighley Creative. Photo: Beth Nixon


“We want to find preferably four, maybe three key residential sites across the Keighley district where there is specific community interest – maybe areas where they’re a bit underserved at the moment, not getting enough recognition,” she said. “I want to find key community groups of residents from those sites that I can work with. Along the way we can do workshops, events – all heritage-based – talking about their cultural traditions.”

Lauren was educated in Bradford and has a degree in fine arts from Newcastle University. She said she knows Keighley town centre well, having worked in a bank in the town in her first job at the age of 18. She has recently worked as a freelance in the arts and creative sector.
She added she is determined that Keighley plays its part in the City of Culture celebrations. “I want to highlight Bradford 2025. This project is going to happen in that year of culture, so I’ll be saying: ‘don’t forget Keighley’. So much stuff is going to be happening over here too, so we’ll hopefully be bringing people across into the district.”


Gemma Hobbs of 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.”


Kala Sangam, which will shortly rename itself Bradford Arts Centre, was established in 1993. Its based in the former General Post Office in Forster Square, Bradford, which is currently undergoing major redevelopment work.

Kala Sangam building Bradford arts hub
Kala Sangam (Bradford Arts Centre) is currently undergoing major renovation.


Lauren’s arts and heritage colleagues, Claire Hudson, Amarjit Singh Bath and Gemma Bailey will be based at Kala Sangam, the Rockwell Centre in Thorpe Edge and the South Square Centre, Thornton.


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.

New Arts and Heritage Officers employed by Kala Sangam in Bradford
R to L: Claire Hudson, Amarjit Singh Bath, Amer Sarai, Lauren Kelly and Gemma Bailey.


“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.”


Keighley Creative was formed as a charity in 2020, originally operating from the former Sunwin House department store building on Hanover Street. It currently occupies a temporary base in the ex-Argos store on
the edge of the Airedale Shopping Centre.

Keighley Creative's building on Cooke Lane
Keighley Creative’s temporary home – 3-7, Cooke Lane. Photo: Bob Smith Photography


The arts and heritage project has received funding from both the Arts Council-administered Department for Culture Media and Sport’s cultural development fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Arts Council logo
National Lottery Heritage Fund logo
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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)

Arts Council logo
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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Social event welcomes artists from across Bradford

Tuesday night was the Bradford Visual Arts Social run by Bradford Producing Hub. This time it was held at Keighley Creative and what an honour it was!

Bradford Visual Arts Social at KEighley Creative

The event was a great success with lots of positive feedback. Attendees came from across the district to meet other artists, social, network and hear more about opportunities for creatives in our local area.

Bradford Visual Arts Social at KEighley Creative

The focus of the event was on local and national support organisations for visual artists and they explained more about what they do and how they can help. The organisations included ourselves, Bradford Producing Hub, Yorkshire and Humber Visual Arts Network, Axis Web, Curator Space and Keighley Photo Hub.

Bradford Visual Arts Social at KEighley Creative

We shared wonderful food together courtesy of Caterpillar Catering alongside taking part in some creative activities run by one of our studio artists, Carole Griffiths. Attendees got a tour of our building, seeing our artist studios and enjoying the comfort of the fabulous Stockroom Cinema.

Bradford Visual Arts Social at KEighley Creative

We can’t wait to host our next social event for local creatives. Watch this space for more info!

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Keighley families think disco is truly brill!

Last Friday was the I Am Brill disco, a free family event organised by us and held at Victoria Hall in Keighley.

The event welcomed 100s of local families and the aim was to encourage Keighley kids to come together and celebrate their brilliance.  The I Am Brill disco was the culmination of numerous creative workshops that we have held around town over the previous few months, where local children were encouraged to make their own unique creations.

Red carpet entrance at I Am Brill disco
A red carpet welcome at I Am Brill Disco. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The I Am Brill project has been inspired by the work of local artist, Letty McHugh, and her piece “Let Brilliant Talents Shine Forth”, which is currently installed on the front of the library and recognises the important history of the Keighley’s original Mechanics Institute.

Let Brilliant Talents Shine Forth Letty McHugh Keighley
Letty McHugh’s art installation, “Let Brilliant Talents Shine Forth”.

The disco was thoroughly enjoyed by attendees who described it as “excellent” “energetic” and “inclusive” as the event was designed to welcome everyone, whatever their age, ethnicity or if they are neurodiverse.

Children made “disco sticks” for I Am Brill Disco. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Party-goers were greeted on arrival with snowfall, balloons and a red carpet and then spent the evening dancing, crafting, drawing, fishing and limboing.

Limbo I am brill disco Keighley
Limboing at I Am Brill Disco. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Children were eligible to win prizes for their achievements which included unique I Am Brill T-shirts and posters and sweets donated by ASDA. Performers included drummers, Punjabi Roots, stilt-walkers, Chicks on Sticks, DJs, and local dancers from Unique Cheer and Dance.

Unique Cheer and Dance Keighley Brill disco
Unique Cheer and Dance at I Am Brill Disco. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

Our team used the work of Dr Seuss to inspire the decorations around Victoria Hall and “Seussian” themed snacks were provided by Caterpillar Catering.

Caterpillar Catering Dr Seuss buns
Dr Seuss themed snacks from Caterpillar Catering. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The event was manned by our team alongside lots of enthusiastic volunteers, who provided their time for free. The event was funded by Bradford Council, the Leap, Levelling Up Fund and Toy Lab.

Event Director, Aimee Grundell, said:

“The I Am Brill disco was everything we hoped it would be: fun, inspiring and celebratory. It created an opportunity for local children and families to feel confident, get creative, and recognise that they are brilliant!”

Boy with balloon at I Am Brill Disco. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive with one attendee saying:

“Thank you for such an amazing disco. My seven year old and I loved it! It was such a great way to spend a miserable Friday night in January. You could see so much hard work went into it! As a single parent to two, and a mature student it was nice to be able to do something that good locally that was free also. Thank you :)”

Girl enjoying I Am Brill Disco. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

For more information on our upcoming events and projects, please sign up to our mailing list and follow us on social media.

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Bradford won the City of Culture 2025!

Bradford won City of Culture 2025, known as BD25 you will hear lots more about it and how it can benefit the city, and our towns within it. We are very proud to be supporting this work, with a BIG focus on Keighley. For more information visit https://bradford2025.co.uk