New Chair for Liverpool Arab Arts Festival as founding member steps down after 20 years

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival will return this summer with a new chair at the helm.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF), has appointed a new Chair after founding member, Taher Qassim MBE, announced he is to step down after a 20-year tenure. Former Vice Chair, Mustapha Koriba, takes up the position from the start of the 2019 programme, with Taher remaining a committed and active member of the board of trustees.

Taher revealed he was to step down from his long-held role following LAAF’s successful 20th anniversary festival in 2018.  The decision was taken to allow the public health practitioner to focus more time on vital health projects including the Yemen Special Interests Group (Yemen SIG), chaired by Dr. Ann Hoskins within the Faculty of Public Health UK.

The newly established organisation will contribute to the rebuilding of the country’s health system, which has been destroyed by the four-year war in Yemen, along with more than half of its health facilities. Taher will also be working on a significant project, currently in development, that is using mobile technology to address cholera, which has affected more than a million people.

Taher said: “Standing down as LAAF Chair was a very difficult decision to make. The board, the artists we work with, our staff and volunteers are like a family and I have worked with many of them for a long time.

“However, the time felt right, with the organisation in a stronger position than ever. Following our 20th anniversary festival last year we received excellent feedback from Arts Council England (ACE) and we have secured funding for the next four years.

“What’s more it has a stable and dedicated board, committed staff members and under Mustapha’s leadership I am confident that the festival will continue to grow.

“His deep understanding of the festival and its boundless potential, combined with his international expertise and ability to communicate with and motivate people from all walks of life, will be invaluable to LAAF in the next phase of its evolution.”

A global consultant in strategy, operations and leadership, Mustapha has sat on LAAF’s board since 2013, after he was introduced to the organisation by Business in the Arts. Prior to his consultancy work he held senior positions in a number of global companies, working in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

His global business expertise has already been leveraged to extend the reach of LAAF and help it to evolve into an internationally acclaimed arts and culture festival.

Speaking of his appointment, Mustapha said: “Taher is the heart and soul of LAAF, having nurtured it from its inception to what it is today.

“It has been an enormous joy, privilege and humbling experience to work with him and it is an honour to be appointed to the position of LAAF Chair. I am grateful that Taher remains on our board, as his knowledge and support are invaluable assets.

“I am excited to take on the challenge of growing the festival beyond its northern roots and helping it to reach even more people than we do now, both in terms of our audiences and the exciting artists and performers that we engage.

“I am passionate about the rich and diverse arts that the Arab world and its diaspora have to offer and I am committed to continuing the work that Taher and the team have done in bringing these experiences to local communities, making the arts more approachable and accessible.

“We are a small team, but we have always punched above our weight and I have no doubt that our collective drive, expertise and passion will ensure that LAAF thrives and touches the lives of even more people across the globe.”

In 2018 LAAF saw an estimated footfall of nearly 31,000 people over 41 events and 72 performances, welcoming 128 UK-based and international artists to Liverpool during the 10-day festival. LAAF returns 5 – 14 July 2019, with a full programme of events to be revealed in coming months. 


LAAF is supported by Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council Festival Enhancement Funding (www.liverpoolfestivalcity.com). For all the latest news and announcements regarding LAAF 2019 visit www.arabartsfestival.com

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