Festival Team

Nisha Tandon

Founder & Director

Nisha is a social entrepreneur, founder and CEO of ArtsEkta – a social enterprise that works to platform minority ethnic communities through arts and culture. She founded this organisation in 2006 following two decades of experience in the community sector and after discovering a critical gap for promoting cultural diversity in NI. Originally from India, she has a degree from the National School of Drama in New-Delhi and a trained Bharatanatyam Indian classical dancer. She is currently a board member of Community Relations Council providing governance, advice and expertise on a wide range of societal issues and administering public funding. In addition she is board member of Creative Lives UK. In 2013, she was appointed by the Minister for Communities to the executive board of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland - the regional development agency for the arts in Northern Ireland, and is also a member of the Deliberative Arts Forum established to increase the profile of migrant communities in the arts. In addition, she has been non-executive director of Cahoots NI Theatre Company, member of UTV Regional Advisory Board, co-chair of Belfast City Council's Festival Forum and a member of the European Mela Network. I am a founding member of 'Stronger Together', a collaboration of organisations working in the field of racial equality. From 2002-2005, she was the driving force behind the development of the Indian Community Centre, leading the integration of the Indian community through creating a regional hub for Indian arts, culture and heritage, and in 2007 initiated Northern Ireland's first multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary arts festival Belfast Mela now attracting annual audiences of up to 60,000 people. In June 2014, she was the first Asian women from Northern Ireland to be awarded the prestigious UK Asian Women of Achievement Award for contribution to arts and culture, and later that month was awarded an OBE for services to the minority ethnic sector in the 2014 Queen's Honours List. In 2015, she won the British Indian Award for 'Indian Spirit in the Community' presented by Trade Next and BDO. In 2023, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Queens University Belfast for distinction in public service

Krishan Tandon

Creative Producer

Krishan has worked Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural sector for over a decade following graduating from Queens University in 2009. Krishan joined ArtsEkta in 2009 as a volunteer, and after some time working across the cultural sector in London, he took up post as Project Manager in 2015, responsible for all the company’s major cultural programmes. In 2010, he was selected as part of Belfast Media Group's Top 40 under 40 celebrating those that contribute to the social, economic and political life of Belfast. Krishan currently works on the development and production of participatory creative arts projects, events and festivals, particularly in the outdoor arts sector. Since 2014, he has been Creative Producer of the Belfast Mela - the largest festival of world cultures in Ireland – and has led its growth to a signature event for the city, with an annual budget of over £350,000 and audiences of over 60,000 people. In 2015 he was responsible for co-producing one of the largest outdoor theatre events ever to take place in Belfast - 'Nine Nights' which played out to an audience of 7,000 people. Krishan currently works with Arts Council Ireland to offer mentoring support for emerging festival producers and organisations across the island as part of the Arts Agility Scheme.

Aoife McCrory


Aoife has worked Northern Ireland’s arts and cultural sector for the last eight years following graduating from University of Ulster in 2009. Before joining the ArtsEkta team in April 2017 Aoife worked as Tourist Officer for Cultúrlann and as Project Manager of the Creative Belfast Farset - a major cross-community arts project commissioned by Belfast City Council and delivered between 2014-2016. She currently manages - Cultural Coach - a region wide intercultural arts outreach programme with an annual budget of £70,000 and works as a senior producer for ArtsEkta with specific expertise in co-design and co-creation. She has worked on community based arts, cultural and social history projects. Aoife is a highly experienced project manager, having implemented project plans for community arts programmes in excess of £300,000.

Nabeela Yasin-Ianneli

Assistant Producer

Nabeela graduated from Bradford University in Community Studies with Social & Public Policy and after which she completed a research project funded by the Kings Fund based in Huddersfield exploring the mental health needs and facilities available for the south Asian community and the African/Caribbean communities that lived in the area. From there she developed the Sheffield Community Access and Interpreting Service which is now based in the Public Health Department and is one of the largest interpreting and translation services in Yorkshire. Nabeela worked with the the South Asian community in Wakefield as community services manager and then with the Primary Care Trust as a community health development manager and ultimately ended up working for Wakefield local authority managing their interpreting and translating service. During her time in Yorkshire she was chair of DIVA (Development Initiative for Voluntary Arts) and sat as a Non-Executive Director for Wakefield Primary Care Trust as Vice Chair. In 2011, Nabeela moved home to Belfast where she worked as community development worker in the Dunmurry area with the BME community and has been extensively involved in cross community work. Before becoming employed with ArtsEkta she worked as a freelance facilitator for our One World Day programme focusing on cultural awareness on Pakistan and Islam.

Catherine McGivern

Assistant Producer

Catherine is currently the Finance & Administration Assistant for ArtsEkta and has been in post since January 2020. Before joining the ArtsEkta team, Catherine worked in an administration role for Theatre and Dance NI and as a professional musician, piano tutor and most recently, a performing arts lecturer. After obtaining a Bachelor of Music degree and a master's degree in arts management from Queen's University, Catherine developed a passion for supporting the delivery of accessible and diverse community arts projects

Lindsey Mairs

Business Development Officer

Having recently joined ArtsEkta in the newly created Business Development Officer role, Lindsey is responsible for driving business growth strategies and new market opportunities forward. Lindsey has over 15 years of experience in Business Development, Sales, Marketing, and Events. Previous roles have included Conference Sales Manager at Visit Belfast, responsible for bidding for large International Conferences. Having spent the last five years working within the VSE sector, Lindsey is passionate about social enterprise and loves working with our corporate partners to help them achieve their goals for diversity and inclusion. Lindsey has also previously worked as Business Development Officer for the £23m Skainos Centre in East Belfast. As part of the Mela 2023 festival team, Lindsey is your contact for the Friends of Mela initiative which enables organisations to positively demonstrate their support for promoting cultural diversity across Northern Ireland.

Ashling Hegearty

Finance & Administration Officer

Ashling has just recently joined ArtsEkta as Finance Officer. She has been working within finance for over 14 years with the past 5 years in the charity sector with The Bytes Project. Here she gained valuable experience of managing and administering public funding from local authorities, central government and at a European level. She is currently studying a Degree in Social Psychology as she has a great interest in the Human Mind and Behaviour. She is also currently setting up a new business (GG’s Little Creations) where she will provide handmade household creations and also personal self-love crystal items and sets for children and adults with the intentions of mindfulness through creativity and beauty.

Sonia McCourt

Marketing & Design Assistant

Sonia has a wealth of experience and expertise in the design and marketing industry. Sonia graduated from the University of Ulster in 2004, since then she has worked in some of the top design and advertising agencies in Belfast. In 2011 Sonia set up her own graphic design business with key clients including ArtsEkta; Women in Business, JMB, The Sound Healing Spa, Derry City & Strabane Council and Lisburn City and Castlereagh Council. Sonia has built consortiums and lead a team of photographers, printers and videographers. Most recently Sonia joined ArtsEkta as Design and Marketing assistant. Her key roles are inhouse print and web design along with delivery of the social media strategy.

Orla McKibbin

Marketing & Communications

Orla is a highly experienced communications professional based in Belfast with unrivalled expertise of working at a senior level in communications and broadcasting on the island of Ireland for the past 25 years. Current clients include, Waddell Media, Belfast Media Festival, Royal Television Society NI, Belfast Mela, Sheridan Tongue, ArtsEkta, Film Hub NI and Women in Film and TV (NI). Former Director of Communications at UTV, Orla has extensive experience in all areas of communications, media relations, publicity, internal communications, content creation, issue management, event planning, scripting, external affairs, media partnerships, advertising, sponsorship and bespoke media training.