Community arts organisation Artcore opened a new arts space in Derby City Centre today – a day that marks India Independence Day – and celebrated togetherness, common threads of cultural heritage and building connections.
When Ruchita Shaikh and her husband, Zahir, moved from India to Derby they had a dream – to improve people’s lives through art.
Ten years on, they’ve reached out to thousands thanks to their creative, Derby-based charity, Artcore – a contemporary arts space that celebrates the cultural richness and diversity of Derby, the East Midlands and beyond.
They present an ever-changing programme of art exhibitions, creative activities for adults and young people, film screenings, artist residencies, talks, and festivals.
The opening of their new city centre location will allow them to further impact and thrive their community through visual art.
“All we ever wanted was to give socially disadvantaged people the chance to enjoy art and help nurture their talents, health and well-being,” explains Ruchita, Artcore’s executive director.
“Since the start, by offering inspirational creative art programmes, we’ve successfully engaged with some of society’s most vulnerable people. And today, I think we can say that we’ve achieved what we set out to do.”
The next six months will see the new building, which is in Albert Street (in the former Laura Ashley building) used as a project exploration space.
Artcore’s ambitions will see the space transformed into a modern gallery exhibiting local, national and international contemporary art as well as supporting and showcasing local artists.
The building will be a vibrant venue for art workshops for all ages, family activities, events, talks and performances from internationally renowned artists, and also has a cafe. The in house craft shop which will be populated by artworks from the newly created studio spaces where local artists will make, create and experiment.
Ruchita and Zahir are both art graduates and studied in India before deciding to relocate to Derby.
“While we lived and studied in Vadodara, the third largest city in the western Indian state of Gujarat, we set up an art gallery so graduates could show their work. Instead of artists getting their degrees and leaving the area, we tried to keep them local and promote their talent in a more structured way. What we did impacted the local art scene enormously and when we moved to Derby, I suppose you could say we had a similar vision,” said Zahir, art director of Artcore.
When the determined couple settled in Derby they launched Artcore and immediately started working on ways to improve cultural richness and diversity through art. Similar to the project in India, they wanted to reach out to people and celebrate art in their own unique way and their success in India was a testament to that.
“It’s been a journey, I can tell you that. But ten years on, we could not be happier,” added Zahir.