Lauren Kelly at Keighley Creative

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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Lauren Kelly at Keighley Creative

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

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