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New producers join our creative team for City of Culture 2021

Posted on 22 November 2019

Following the appointment of Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen as our three Co-Artistic Directors for 2021, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the latest additions to our 2021 team, supporting our delivery of an exciting programme for Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.

Joining the Belgrade as Senior Producer is Sâmir Bhamra, Artistic Director and CEO of Phizzical, a Midlands-based production company creating adventurous touring work with a focus on South Asian and British Asian perspectives. Previous Phizzical productions staged at the Belgrade Theatre have included a South Asian reimagining of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline in 2013, the warmly received romantic comedy musical Bring on the Bollywood and more recently, the groundbreaking LGBT love story Stardust.

A writer, producer, director and designer, Sâmir developed his directing skills at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, learning from the likes of Nelson Fernandez OBE and RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran. He was also an Associate Artist on the Indian adaptation of King Lear for Sky Arts.

Other directing credits include Circle of Lights for Vivacity Arts and Culture in Peterborough, an outdoor dance production of Ram Lila for Leicester City Council’s Diwali celebrations, the site-specific promenade production Ticket 2 Bollywood, the Pulitzer Prize nominated play A Perfect Ganesh, Romeo + Laila, Anjali and the Enchanted Anklet and the national tour of Precious Bazaar.

Writing credits include Stardust, Bring on the Bollywood, Big B the Musical, Bombay Superstar, The Nautch Girl and Precious Bazaar. As a producer, he delivered three large-scale projects during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was Executive Producer of Leicester’s International Dance Festival.

In addition to his theatre work, he is also Creative Director of the UK Asian Film Festival, and recently designed and directed the short musical film Mad About the Boy, which has been screened at festivals around the world, picking up awards including Best Composer at the Youth Music Awards, Bronze Prize for Music at the Queen Palm International Film Festival in LA and Best Director and Best Costume Design at the Asian Festival in Manila.

Other accolades include the 2016 Arts and Culture Award and two high commendations for his work in design from the Windrush Awards in 2003 and 2004.

Sâmir Bhamra said: “Through my work with Phizzical, I have developed a great relationship with the Belgrade Theatre, and I am delighted to be joining its staff full-time as it prepares for one of its most exciting years yet.

“Coventry’s diversity was central to its bid to become UK City of Culture, and it’s fantastic to see that reflected in the Belgrade’s commitment ensuring diverse voices are at the heart of the team leading its produced programme for 2021. I look forward to working closely with Corey, Balisha and Justine to shape that programme over the coming months.”

Krysztina Winkel

Supporting the 2021 creative team will be emerging producer Krysztina Winkel, whose role as Embedded Community Producer will focus on outreach and participation. Originally from Germany, Krysztina worked as Education and Outreach Officer for Deutsche Oper am Rhein for four years, where she was responsible for running inclusive youth dance and theatre ensembles, as well as facilitating opera and dance outreach programmes.

She has gone on to work around the world, working with community theatre group Barefeet Theatre in Zambia, as well as on social inclusion projects in countries ranging from Italy to Iraq. She is currently studying for a Masters in Arts Enterprise and Development alongside her work at the Belgrade.

Krysztina Winkel said: “Through my role as Embedded Community Producer, I hope to widen the reach of the Belgrade’s engagement work, strengthening existing relationships with artists and communities in the city, as well as brokering new ones, by creating inspiring platforms for dialogue, wonder and creativity.”

In addition to bringing on board new staff to help us prepare for a busy year ahead, we’ve also been taking steps to get our wonderful theatre building ready for 2021. Following the completion of the first stage of our 2020 Redevelopment Project with the refurbishment of our 1958 Main House auditorium, work will continue in summer 2020 with the linking of our ground floor café and first floor Burbidge Room into a self-contained destination café bar. The third phase of the project will involve the transformation of the nearby Jaguar pub into a new meeting and rehearsal space, perfect for our youth, community and talent development projects.

To complete this work, we have already secured £3.7m thanks to a generous funding package from Coventry City Council, Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, but are still seeking support to help us reach our £4.8m funding target. Find out how you can Play Your Part here.