Enjoying the Freedom: Kash Arshad

From one artistic discipline to the next, Kash Arshad has found himself taking on new challenges at Freedom Studios. From scouring spreadsheets to driving ice-cream vans, we caught up with Kash to get the scoop on life as a Trainee Artistic Director.

Trainee Artistic Director – holy moly. Who’da thought it? It feels very strange but so very cool. Before this I was actor for 15 years (until I finally realised that I wasn’t anywhere near as good as I thought I was) and decided that directing was more my cup of tea. And it’s something I enjoy more than I ever did acting. Even as an actor all I ever wanted to do was run my own theatre company, and now I get the chance to learn how to do that – it’s just brilliant, if a little scary.

So far my time as TAD for Freedom Studios has involved a lot (and I mean a lot) of reading. I’ve been working my way through policies and procedures, funding applications, potential funding streams, familiarising myself with what Freedom are all about, their mission statement and their values.

Even though it’s been two months, it’s been a steep learning curve – running a theatre company is so much more that making shows/work! I guess I always kind of knew that, but doing it is something different. It’s made me realise that to run a successful company, you need to be much more than creative, and that if I want to be a future leader, I have rise to that challenge.

In amongst the mind-boggling array of numbers and figures, board meetings and budgets, I’ve had the chance to be involved with some of the creative stuff – I helped out on Ice Cream: The Opera, a brand new opera, written by Ian MacMillan, which was performed as part of the Bradford Festival – (I got to drive an Ice Cream van, see below if you don’t believe me). I’m also involved with A Happier Valley and in September I’m going to be assisting David Thacker on Threepenny Opera, with Freedom Studios partner organisation Octagon Theatre Bolton. In addition, I’m going to be working on a piece for the Royal Exchange Theatre called Come Closer – Memories of Partition, about the partition of India and Pakistan. I’ll also be running a workshop on Classical Texts as part of the free summer school for 20 Bradford kids. We also have other workshops run by the former Artistic Director of Mind the Gap, Tim Wheeler and playwright Tajinder Singh Hayer.

So, at the beginning of my second month as Freedom Studios as Trainee Artistic Director, I feel, among many other things, very lucky and honoured to be part of the Artistic Directors Leadership Programme with Freedom Studios. ADLP is so important, especially right now – the arts is heavily weighted in one direction, which we are all aware of, but progress has been painfully slow in addressing this imbalance. The only way this is going to change is when the leaders in the arts reflect the communities they serve as well as the country. ADLP is the first step in making these necessary changes, and bringing this issue to the fore. It also gives people like myself the opportunity to rise through the ranks of the theatre world, which to a lot of us, seems impenetrable, to become leaders and move the arts ecology forward, to be more inclusive, reflect this country, inspire future leaders from under represented backgrounds and show them that it is possible.

No pressure then.

When he's not serving up Flake 99's in Freedom Studios, you can find Kash directing shows for his own company, Rogue Bones.

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