Kully Thiarai


Kully Thiarai is Creative Director and CEO of Leeds 2023 – the city’s international year of culture. Having worked with prestigious arts organisations across the UK, Kully is renowned for her bold and ground-breaking work in the performing arts.

Kully’s extensive experience includes commissioning, producing and directing work nationally and internationally, developing and nurturing talent and creating opportunities for those who may have little or no access to the arts. She has created a diverse range of work that spans communities, cultures and performance styles; has directed large-scale epics, new plays and made work in non-theatre spaces.

Before taking up her position at Leeds 2023, Kully was Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre Wales. Her 30 year career also includes being the founding Director of Cast – a £22 million performance venue in Doncaster; Co-Artistic Director of the Leicester Haymarket Theatre; Artistic Director and CEO of Contact Theatre Manchester, Theatre Writing Partnership and Red Ladder Theatre Company. She is a Trustee of Manchester International Festival (MIF), The Art Foundation and Artistic Advisor of Leeds based theatre company Slung Low. Kully is Honorary Fellow of Central School of Speech and Drama and a fellow of the RSA. She was also the winner of the 2020 Cultural Icon Award in The Inaugural Northern Asian powerlist.