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Artistic duo support thousands of people in Derby – thanks to city-based charity, Artcore

When Ruchita Shaikh and her husband, Zahir, moved from India to Derby they had a dream – to improve people’s lives through art.

Nine years on, they’ve reached out to thousands thanks to their creative, city-based charity, Artcore.

“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.”

Every day, Ruchita and Zahir work at Artcore in Charnwood Street, Derby. They’ve carved out careers for themselves doing what they love best – delivering art and celebrating people’s creativity.

During the week, busy workshops run at the charity’s base and there’s a contemporary gallery space which regularly showcase work by local artists.

Through its classes, Artcore engages with people with learning difficulties and mental health issues as well as migrants and asylum seekers.

It’s always a hive of activity.

Ruchita, 43, said:

“Zahir and I 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.

“We launched Artcore and immediately started working on ways to improve cultural richness and diversity through art. Like the project in India, we wanted to reach out to people and celebrate art in our own unique way.

“It’s been a journey, I can tell you that. But nine years on, we could not be happier.”

Next year, to celebrate the charity’s tenth anniversary, the pair has even bigger plans.

They want to expand Artcore and deliver an even greater programme of events, exhibitions and art talks. What’s important to Ruchita and Zahir is moving with the times and presenting an ever-changing programme of events including cultural festivals.

Zahir said:

“There is so much more we can do to bring people of all backgrounds, cultures, ages and abilities together.

“Over the years we have formed close links with Derby’s Deda, Derby Museums and the Big Lottery Fund and our work is ongoing.

“This year, we celebrated after becoming one of the Arts Council’s England’s new National Portfolio Organisations.

“Our mission remains the same – to be a place where art and culture is accessible to all.

“From day one, we wanted Artcore to be that place and I think it is.”

Ruchita and Zahir love what they’ve achieved at Artcore. It’s a calming place where learning and community cohesion is encouraged.

Building self-confidence, mutual trust and respect means the world to them.

“There’s a constant buzz here,” said Ruchita. “Our journey has involved taking one step at a time and steadily progressing and we are proud of what we have achieved.

“We’re forever grateful to share local artistic talent and promote strong dynamics between the arts, the city and local people.”

Ruchita and Zahir, 46, set up their charity in the centre of Derby so they could be a local force within the community.

After years of hard work and campaigning, Artcore is firmly on the map.

“We need our services to be easily accessible to people from diverse backgrounds and cultures,” said Ruchita. “We welcome people of all ages and ability. We believe in the power of art to build relationships in the community and develop positive social partnerships.

“Engaging people from every strata of the society and developing a harmonious relationship through art means we leave the charity office with smiles on our faces.

“A happy community is what we strive for at Artcore.”

Ruchita and Zahir never know what’s around the corner but they’re certainly not afraid of new challenges. They’re ploughing every ounce of energy they have into their thriving contemporary art space and they are loving life.

“Today, it’s all about what benefits we bring to the city. It’s a safe place for the people who we work with.

“This is what matters. Artcore is the future.”


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