Shirley Elghanian



Shirley Elghanian

Shirley Elghanian was born in 1952 in Iran. She attended George Washington University and received her BA from The Corcoron College of Art & Design in 1972. After several years living in New York with her husband and daughter, Shirley relocated to London with her daughter where she continues to live today. She has two children, Roya, 39 and Michael-Henry, 29. Shirleys children had very limited knowledge about their culture and heritage and her son Michael-Henry had never been to Iran. She felt it was imperative for them to know how culturally rich and diverse their heritage is as it is an essential part of their identity. Shirley started researching various charities and youth focused events and found that there was a large gap in youth focused events for the Persian Diaspora. It was in the process of organising a fundraising event for the Encyclopaedia Iranica that she decided to set up Magic of Persia. This was a major undertaking without any kind of sponsorship or history or experience in the charity sector. It was with the sheer drive, determination and generosity of a handful of friends and family that Magic of Persia came to fruition in 2004. 13 years on, the charity has become one of the most important and influential platforms for promoting and supporting Persian arts and culture. With an emphasis on contemporary art, one of Magic of Persias many art initiatives is the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP), which was founded in 2009. The charity continues to work in partnership with leading institutions and organisations such as Christies, the British Museum, the Saatchi Gallery, and the Delfina Foundation. Shirley is also a member of the Tate Modern Middle East and North Africa accusation committee (MENAAC). The charity is run from Shirleys home by a group of young professionals with Shirley as their Chief Executive.


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