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Keighley Arts and Film Festival founder takes up key creative role ahead of Bradford 2025

Following a competitive recruitment process, Riaz Meer, one of the founders of Keighley Arts and Film Festival, will take up a post leading creative arts in the town over the next two years.

The experienced film and television editor will oversee Keighley Creative’s organisational development and transition to a permanent base. His brief will include working with East Street Arts, which is due to take over the lease of the former Sunwin House building on Hanover Street, with Keighley Creative as its tenant from 2026.

Meer will work to build relationships with organisations including Bradford Council, Keighley Town Council, Keighley Business Improvement District, Bradford 2025, and the Towns Fund board and its long-term plan for the town. He will also develop a fundraising strategy for the organisation that secures its long-term future.

An important part of the role is to ensure Keighley Creative has a sustainable plan for its development. Meer was previously a trustee of the charity for more than four years. In 2018, he was instrumental in setting up Keighley Creative Space, which became the current charity in 2020. He is currently vice-chair of the Media Reform Coalition and is active in the broadcasting and entertainments union Bectu.

He said: “I’m thrilled to join the team at Keighley Creative. There really is no place like Keighley, and no arts organisation quite like Keighley Creative. I’ve been involved as a trustee in trying to increase arts provision for the people of Keighley. I’m delighted to now step up and play a more active role in the town.

“The next two years offer an amazing set of challenges and opportunities. Keighley must and will play a vital part in Bradford’s UK City of Culture 2025. At the same time, we will see the complete renovation of Sunwin House and the establishment of a permanent home for Keighley Creative. These are once-in-a-generation opportunities and for the sake of the people of Keighley we must seize them.

“There is no other arts organisation I would consider throwing my lot in with. I am sure there will be testing times ahead, but we have the expertise of East Street Arts, Bradford Council, Bradford 2025 and Kala Sangam to draw on. And I also have the support of our fantastic team of staff and our energetic board of trustees.

“For me, this is the right time and Keighley Creative is the right place.”

The executive director post has been funded by major Bradford arts organisation Kala Sangam through their Cultural Development Fund award from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The post is the second Kala Sangam appointment to be seconded to Keighley Creative. In April, Lauren Kelly began working as Arts and Heritage Officer with the charity.

Alex Croft, creative director of Kala Sangam, said: “I am so pleased that we’ve been able to appoint such an exceptional candidate to the role of executive director at Keighley Creative. Our Cultural Development Fund project is aiming to make a real difference across Bradford district over the next two years, and a major priority has always been supporting Keighley to ensure arts and cultural provision is protected and grown in the town. I think we’re in safe hands with Riaz at the helm”

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