The Story So Far...
Conceptualised in early 2006, ArtsEkta was born as result of local experiences on the ground. The founding members of the organisation include Nisha Tandon (Director, ArtsEkta), Mukesh Sharma (Managing Director, McNeil & Thriftway Travel Ltd), Pritam Sridhar (Local artist), Julie-Anne McCormick (Festivals Co-Ordinator, Belfast City Council), John McCann (Drama facilitator) and Heather Floyd (Director, Community Arts Forum).
They believed it was important to form a progressive group that works towards achieving integration and cohesion by promoting equality and an understanding of different minority cultures using the arts. They felt the mechanism for achieving this was by developing the presence of local minority ethnic artists at a grassroots level.
ArtsEkta began as a pilot project funded by UnLtd, which is a charity that supports social entrepreneurs. The development of the ArtsEkta was spearheaded by Nisha Tandon who formally constituted the organisation as a charity and company limited by guarantee in 2006 with many of the original founding members forming the board of directors. Her vision was for the creation of a mixed economy organisation to ensure self-sustainability.
Following this, Nisha, continued working as a development manager for ArtsEkta funded by UnLtd with the voluntary assistance of colleague Pritam Sridhar and established the company as an innovative and refreshing offering in the community, voluntary, arts and corporate sectors throughout Northern Ireland.
The Growth of ArtsEkta
During 2007, ArtsEkta began to strategically develop with the support of Belfast City Council and Newtownabbey Borough Council. Access to various streams of project funding allowed for the delivery of an original outreach programme, now ‘Cultural Coach, celebrations of Diwali and the development of Belfast Mela, now Northern Ireland’s largest multi-cultural festival.
Alongside this the organisation continued to recruit and develop new ethnic artists, who became deliveries for the programme of work.
Over the last five years ArtsEkta has flourished and is now recognised as the regions leading ethnic arts organisation, widely considered as a pioneer in the development of intercultural arts for Northern Ireland. The organisation currently employs three full time and one part time staff members aswell as 50+ artists.
With an expanded service delivery, major investors in ArtsEkta now include Office of the First & deputy First Minister, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Aswell as continuing its core work, ArtsEkta recently incorporated a sister company - 'Ekta Events' to drive forward the organisation's social economy business model.