A couple who moved from India to Derby had a dream to improve people’s lives through art.
Nine years on Ruchita Shaikh and her husband Zahir have reached out to thousands with their creative, city-based charity, Artcore.
The charity runs regular workshops and there is a contemporary gallery space which regularly showcases work by local artists.
Artcore also engages with people with learning difficulties and mental health issues as well as migrants and asylum seekers.
Ruchita, 43, said: “Whilst we are inclusive to all – we particularly wanted to give socially disadvantaged people the chance to enjoy art and help nurture their talents, health and well-being.”
The couple first started the charity back in India and when they migrated to Britain they started work in other fields and were soon back to doing what they loved.
“Something in our hearts kept telling us go back to doing what what came to us naturally – using art to better the local community. And we soon realised there was nothing in Derby in terms of visual arts and we developed from there.
“Our families told us we were crazy and I admit it was hard especially as we had not long been living in the country. But we are both determined people even if it does mean staying up until 2am at night.”
The couple, who have two children, first went to work in schools, before growing to a point where they help up to 10,000 people a year. They also work with local artists – around 80 a year – promoting their work and helping with everything from mentoring to marketing.
“We aim to operate as a cultural hub, fuelling active engagement for a diverse range of communities in Derby, East Midlands and beyond. Our long-term objective is to use arts and crafts as a vehicle to strengthen community cohesion, educate, raise awareness and provide a platform for development.
“We are committed to bringing change into the lives of people of all ages, abilities, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through creative activities.”