News: Abdul Shayek announced as new Artistic Director of Tara Arts

Tara Arts’ Board of Trustees today announce the appointment of Abdul Shayek as the new Artistic Director & Joint CEO.

Under Shayek’s artistic leadership Tara Arts will be a world class creative voice for the largest minority group in the UK. Platforming a blend of new and old voices, supporting emerging and established artists. Presenting traditional and innovative new forms of performance which will be accessible to all.

Shayek’s focus in the coming weeks will be meeting our local Wandsworth community, listening to the needs of artists and establishing a space for debate and action to address the burning issues of our day.

Shayek’s first piece of work, A Final Farewell, will explore how the people of Wandsworth say a proper goodbye to loved ones lost during COVID 19. Audiences will hear the stories of members of our communities, whilst tracing their steps on journeys across the borough. The event will culminate in a celebratory finale at Tara each night.

During Autumn 2020 Abdul is inviting residents to come and join him on walks across Wandsworth to share stories and places of interest. He is inviting artists to join the company’s online forum Tea with Tara as a space to listen to their needs post pandemic, with a particular focus on supporting South Asian artists.

He is inviting leading thinkers, artists and community leaders to explore urgent global questions around race, climate emergency and class in a series of curated panel discussions. The first of these will be a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

We look forward to announcing further details of Abdul’s forthcoming artistic programme in due course.

Tara Arts: Founded in 1977, Tara Arts and its award-winning theatre in Wandsworth, was the first Asian, Black and ethnically diverse led theatre company in the UK. To this day it is the only such company which has its own building. Tara Arts has delivered numerous world class productions, worked with a range of partners, from the grassroots to cultural powerhouses. In its work it has endeavoured to challenge the status quo, support and develop artists with a particular focus on those of South Asian heritage.

Abdul Shayek, said: “Tara Arts was born in response to the racist murder of a young man. Over 40 years later, in response to yet another murder, we find ourselves asking the same questions about our society, both here in the UK and across the world. Historic injustices and the distorting of narratives have led us to a point of unequivocal consensus on the need for change. As we move into this next chapter, Tara Arts will honour what came before, whilst throwing ourselves into the future and opening our doors wide. We will listen to those who have been affected most by this current crisis to tell us how best we can serve them. We understand our sector and society is in the midst of challenging times. We will rise to this challenge. We will seize this moment of opportunity to listen to the needs of our sector, our community, our audiences, our artists and we will support and nourish them. We will serve our local, national and global communities, develop new audiences through the work we make, challenge what theatre can be, who is making it and most importantly who has access to it. Now is the time for change.”

Helen Jeffreys, Executive Director and Joint CEO said: “On behalf of the entire Tara Arts team, I am delighted to welcome Abdul Shayek as our new Artistic Director and Joint CEO. I am hugely excited to begin working with him. With Abdul’s exceptional vision, experience, artistic talent and energy we will bring about change, serve our artists, audiences and communities and build a bright future for Tara Arts.”

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, added: “This is a really important step in a new era for Tara Arts. Abdul brings a wealth of experience to the role, as well as some exciting and ambitious ideas on how the organisation can make a difference, not just in showcasing great work and supporting artists, but also in its local community.”

Alison Woods, Chair of Fio Board, commented: “After his many successful years in Wales, Fio is enormously proud that our founder and Artistic Director is moving on to lead such a prestigious company. Abdul has been an inspirational figure in Cardiff and we know how much he will bring to the role of Artistic Director and Joint CEO at Tara Arts. We wish him every success as he continues his journey.”

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