National, 3rd July 2023: Queen’s University Belfast, one of the leading universities in the UK and Ireland, and a member of the prestigious Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities awarded Nisha Tandon, founder and Chief Executive of ArtsEkta an Honorary Doctorate for services to the minority ethnic sector in Northern Ireland. ArtEkta set up by Nisha, is one of the only organisations in Ireland promoting intercultural arts, culture, and heritage and is a vibrant social enterprise. The honorary award recognises her significant contributions to ethnic arts, culture, and heritage.
Nisha Tandon, a leading social entrepreneur, has transformed ArtsEkta from a voluntary initiative run from her home into one of Northern Ireland’s leading arts charities, and one of the only organisations on the island of Ireland promoting cultural diversity through arts, culture, and heritage.
Nisha is the founder of the largest cultural diversity celebration on the island of Ireland, the Belfast Mela Festival which has grown from a one-day festival at Botanic Gardens back in 2007 to a nine-day event attended by more than 60,000 people last year. The Mela is now a leading initiative that embodies the collective vision for a shared society in Northern Ireland.
Nisha is a former member of the executive board of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland by appointment from the Minister for Communities and is also a member of the Intercultural Arts Steering Group which oversees the implementation of the Intercultural Arts Strategy developed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In addition, she is a member of Belfast City Council’s Festival Forum strategy sub-group and is a Northern Ireland representative for Voluntary Arts BAME Advisory UK Panel.
Nisha was the first Asian woman from Northern Ireland to be awarded the prestigious UK Asian Women of Achievement Award for contribution to arts and culture, and in the same month was awarded an OBE for services to the minority ethnic sector in the 2014 Queen’s Honours List.
Speaking about the award, Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast, Professor Sir Ian Greer, said: “Nisha has made a significant impact on life in South Belfast, introducing one of the most popular events in our annual calendar which promotes and celebrates diversity across our community. Her dedication and outstanding work toward empowering the minority ethnic sector and promoting Indian arts, culture and heritage have made a positive impact on the lives of many. We are delighted to award Nisha this honour as a recognition of her work in public service in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking on the occasion, Nisha Tandon, Founder and Executive Director, ArtsEkta said “It is a real honour to accept this honorary Doctorate for Public Service from Queen University Belfast. I would like to dedicate it to everyone who has come to Northern Ireland and made it their home and the wonderful people who have helped me celebrate our growing diversity by providing much-needed funding and resources to assist the small and highly dedicated team at ArtsEkta carry out the work we do.
“It has never been more important that we find strength in our diversity and be proud of all communities who make up the unique fabric of Northern Ireland. My vision is a society that respects different cultures and communities and ArtsEkta will continue to play our part in challenging racism and prejudice by using arts and creativity to help us all embrace our differences and celebrate our similarities.”