Groundbreaking New Work, Touring and Artist Development: Celebrating a Year as Tara Theatre

25 July 2022

It’s been a mammoth year here at Tara Theatre and we just want to share, recap and reflect on what we’ve been up to since last summer when we emerged from lockdown with a new name, new ambitions and an epic history to build on.

In our first year, as we transitioned from Tara Arts to Tara Theatre, we have achieved some incredible things, all thanks to our excellent team, the foundations we are built on, our talented pool of freelancers, brilliant performers, board of trustees and enthusiastic audiences.

We have greatly increased access to and participation in our work for our communities of audiences, participants and co-creators:

• This includes touring our show Final Farewell, across the UK to outdoor festivals and taking our show Dawaat to outdoor sites across London.
• We have worked on 5 co-created productions with 13 local residents and 81 elder women from diaspora communities in Leeds, Manchester, Walsall, Kings Cross.
• Co-created productions with 21 young people.
• We have grown our artist and stakeholder networks, including regular opportunities to engage in our space and sharing regular artist opportunity bulletins

Dawaat. Photo by Rishi Rai

When asked about the biggest thing that they think has changed over the year for Tara Theatre, Ellie, our administrator, said,

The scale of the productions, from building a HUGE tree, a round table and touring them both, has been amazing!”

Final Farewell in Brighton

We’ve worked hard at building Tara Theatre as a welcoming and nurturing space for anyone who crosses our threshold and our General Manager, Devashree Pande described the best thing about working at Tara Theatre as:

The people and the positive, inclusive, collaborative working environment” and our team has grown from 3 to 9 in the last 12 months. 

We are committed to supporting South Asian practitioners to begin and build sustainable careers, our Artistic Associate, Natasha Kathi- Chandra said,

“Artist development has become a large part of Tara Theatre’s heart. Finding those contemporary voices, opening our doors & providing platforms and safe spaces for artists of south Asian backgrounds or connections to speak to us and work with us. All the work over the year has paved the way for how we strategise what we can provide for artists, by listening to them!” 

2020: Collection Two. Photo by Bettina Adela

In 2020, we consulted 119 artists and freelance practitioners to understand their needs and inform our artist development programme and this year we:

• Engaged 157 freelance creatives, performers and production teams
• Embarked on our major international collaboration Artists Make Space, working with 14 artists from the UK and Bangladesh
• Hosted regular workshops and South Asian Play Reading Groups
• Commissioned 25 writers
• Secured funding to engage 2 South Asian Artistic Associates to develop artistic leadership skills and experience in a producing theatre
Delivered Cultivate and Change Your Lens, a season of cross-discipline paid artist development opportunities reaching 84 artists
Launched our Seed Commission programme for writers, NOVA

Florence Collenette, our Head of Development reflected that:

“While our building was closed we did a lot of listening to our communities and artists. I think since the building reopened we have really shown that we took to heart everything that was shared with us. Launching NOVA, Our Streets… it’s all a response to what people told us they needed.” 

We also asked our team what they think will happen next for Tara Theatre and they almost all said:

A much bigger public presence for Tara Theatre, across the UK and internationally!”

Our Streets. Photo by Harry Elletson

And commenting on what is next for Tara Theatre, our artistic Director and Joint CEO, Abdul Shayek said:

“Without doubt, we have proof of concept and our offer is unique and much needed within our sector, we are a company which is now both the historic and contemporary home for South Asian artists, stories and audiences in the UK and internationally. This is evident from the impact of the projects delivered and the numerous projects we have in the pipeline. We now need the continued and increased support of our stakeholders, partners and supporters to build on everything achieved in the past 12 months.

In the future, you will be seeing Tara Theatre in buildings and festivals nationally and internationally, connecting with a range of communities and engaging audiences on digital platforms, making work which challenges and provokes whilst pushing the boundaries of what, who, why, where and how theatre speaks to and about contemporary society!”

If you’d like to explore what’s coming up in 2022, check out our What’s On page for more details and if you’re interested in opportunities to take part, explore our Artist Development and Participate pages. 

And we can’t wait for you to see what’s next!