Two leading cultural figures have been appointed to lead the development and delivery of Bradford’s UK City of Culture 2025 programme, marking a major milestone in the year-long cultural celebrations that promise a game-changing new chapter for the district.
Shanaz Gulzar, nationally-acclaimed artist, producer, presenter and former chair of Bradford 2025 – who played an instrumental role in the district’s winning bid campaign – has been appointed as Creative Director.
Shanaz will lead on creating the cultural programme; working with local, national and international partners to produce an ambitious programme of work rooted in the unique heritage and character of Bradford district.
Shanaz, whose career spans film, visual arts, theatre, public art and media, most recently worked as a producer at Manchester International Festival (MIF) and has fronted a number of BBC television programmes including ‘Yorkshire Walks’ and the documentary film ‘Hidden Histories: The Lost Portraits of Bradford’.
Shanaz said: “I’ve been on Bradford’s UK City of Culture journey for more than two years, so to be able to develop it and see it through to delivery itself is a fantastic opportunity and a huge honour.
“I’m of Bradford, a Keighley lass, and having been part of the cultural community here for over 25 years, I know the passion and potential of the brilliant artists and creative communities in the district.
“I will be drawing on my years at MIF, producing events and experiences that have an international outlook whilst shining a light on homegrown stories and talent.
“Our winning bid was shaped by thousands of conversations with our many, diverse communities and our extraordinary young population across the district.
“I’m thrilled to be working alongside Dan to bring the ambition of our bid to life in our mills, across our hills, in our towns and streets from Haworth to Keighley, Bingley to Bradford city centre. We’re ready to write a new narrative for the next chapter of Bradford’s story. I can’t wait to get started.”
Dan Bates will take up the role of Executive Director of Bradford 2025, joining Bradford Culture Company – the charitable organisation delivering Bradford 2025 – from his current role as Chief Executive of Sheffield Theatres.
Dan, who trained as a Stage Manager at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, will draw on his expertise developing world-class programmes for a number of major cultural institutions including the Theatre Royal in Windsor, West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and York Theatre Royal. He will lead on the recruitment of wider delivery team – with roles in marketing, financial management, HR and administration being recruited over the coming months.
Dan said: “I have had the most amazing 13 years at Sheffield Theatres and I’m incredibly proud to have helped nurture and showcase South Yorkshire talent across the city.
“When I heard that Bradford had won the title of UK City of Culture 2025, I was so excited for what an opportunity a year of culture can bring to the district and its people; I am even more so now to deliver this for the district, alongside working with Shanaz and can’t wait to get to work.
“Throughout the recruitment process and my many visits, it has been wonderful to meet the people behind the bid, to hear their stories and their passion, and it is a real honour to work alongside the many partners, supporters and sponsors who have already pledged their support.
“I’m also thrilled about the opportunities we will create for young people to develop their skills and to have lasting careers in creativity and culture way beyond 2025.”
Bradford district was named UK City of Culture 2025 in May, beating a record number of more than 20 locations who entered the hotly contested competition. The district received £275,000 in initial seed funding from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to hit the ground running, paving the way for a year of unforgettable cultural activities and events. It is estimated that UK City of Culture 2025 title could bring an extra £700m into Bradford district, creating 3,000 jobs and attracting around 1.1m visitors by 2030.