The art of helping others

10 October 2018 | Midlands


Meet the inspirational couple using art and creativity to change lives.

Ruchita and Zahir Shaikh are firm believers in the power of art to transform lives and communities. The married couple set up Artcore in Derby nine years ago, and today the creative, city-based charity is helping thousands of people every year.And their impact is tangible proof that when people help people, the communities they live in thrive.

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

“We are committed to bringing change into the lives of people of all ages, abilities, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through creative activities.

“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.”

Ruchita and Zahir, who both hold fine art degrees, first started the charity at home in India. When they moved to Britain nine years ago, they started work in other fields. But it wasn’t long before they were drawn back to their first love.

Ruchita added: “Something in our hearts kept telling us go back to doing 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.”

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.

They currently have two young artists in residence who received a bursary from the charity. At the end of their two-month residency they get a chance to showcase their work.

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