A LOCAL artist and the co-founder of the Bradford Literature Festival have both made the shortlist for a top national award.

Syima Aslam, who established the festival in 2014, and portrait artist Simone Malik have both made the Arts and Culture category of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards.

The awards are run by the Women of the Future Ltd team and they are sponsored by NatWest, and celebrate Asian women across the UK who are making important contributions to British life.

The awards patrons are Cherie Blair and HRH Princess Badiya bint El Hassan, and this year the ceremony will be held on May 9.

Mrs Aslam established Bradford Literature Festival to boost Bradford’s economic growth through cultural regeneration.

It started as a two-day festival with 25 events and 968 attendees in 2014 and last year grew to 350 events across 10 days , attracting more than 50,000 attendees.

It is also the most culturally diverse festival in the UK, reaching a 49 per cent diverse audience, and featuring programme speakers with a 42 per cent diversity rate.

Mrs Aslam said: “I am delighted to have been nominated. It is a privilege to be amongst the incredible women nominated and made all the more special by the nomination coming from one of BLF’s funding partners, Amal.

“The nomination is a testament to the national profile, artistic integrity and social impact of the BLF programme as well the commitment of our sponsors and partners over the last four years. I’m really looking forward to meeting all of the other nominees on the night and celebrating the fantastic work we have all been a part of.”

Miss Malik has recently received acclaim for her paintings including one of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Kurdish boy, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2015 during the Syrian refugee crisis.

She also hit the news recently after creating an image of a man wanted for a murder in Pakistan. She had felt the original image produced by Pakistani police looked nothing like the suspect seen in CCTV footage.

After making the shortlist she said: “I’m proud to be on the list. It is the first time I have put myself forward for the award.


“There are several big names on the judging panel.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted, regardless of the outcome. I’m proud to be among that list of women, it is tremendous.”

Other women to make the arts and culture shortlist are author Ayisha Malik, comedian Esther Manito, novelist and film director Shamim Sarif and novelist Felicia Yap.

Other categories at the awards include sport, media, science and technology and business.