Northern Asian Powerlist 2020 winners – Kully Thiarai

Kully Thiarai, creative director of Leeds 2023, won the Cultural Icons category of the inaugural Northern Asian Powerlist 2020.

The full list of winners, along with all those shortlisted, was announced on Friday 2 October.

Outlining why they had chosen Thiarai, the judges’ report said: “We found Kully an outstanding candidate. She has over 30 years of experience of working in the performing arts across the UK as a theatre maker, artistic director and arts consultant.

“Since commencing in the post as Leeds Culture Trust Leeds 2023 creative director in January 2020, Kully has used her vast professional experience and prominence and strong social values to advocate the importance of culture in British society.”

Thiarai said: “I am thrilled to have been selected as winner in the Cultural Icons category.

“Leeds and Bradford have played such an important part in enabling me to make a career in the arts and I am grateful for all the support and inspiration I have received over the years.

“The north is rich with talent and creativity. I am delighted to be able to play my part in nurturing talent and unlocking opportunities for others, celebrating the vitality of our diverse cultural heritage across the UK and the Northern Powerhouse.”


Shortlisted for the Cultural Icons category were:

North East – Vikas Kumar MBE, director, GemArts.

North West – Shobna Gulati, actress.

Yorkshire & the Humber – Shanaz Gulzar, artist and producer; Nick Ahad, journalist.