South Asian Arts UK, a Leeds based charity focused on promoting South Asian arts in Leeds and the UK, observed 25 years of its service, with a grand Annual General Meeting, held at the Leeds Corn Exchange, on Monday 26, June.
The grand event was studded with classical Kathak dance and musical performances by the creatives team of SAA-UK, followed by crispy South Asian snacks comprising of samosas and pakoras.
People were mesmerised by a Kathak performance by Jyoti Manral and Shivani Jatar, who showcased through the dance, two women, enjoying the monsoon rains.
The dance performance followed a classical musical performance by Amrita Rathore, Anjali Virdee Jujhar Landa and Sukhraj Singh who performed an ensemble of tabla, sitar and sarangi.
The event, opened by Paul French, former chair of SAA-UK, reflected upon its 25 years and the plan for future.
Inés Soria-Donlan, Research Manager Creativity, Partnerships, Impact for Horizon Institute, University of Leeds was elected as Chair, by the AGM
Speaking to Asian Standard, reflecting what changed in 25 years, Keranjeet Kaur Virdee MBE, CEO and Artistic Director, SAA-UK said: “The challenges hasn’t changed in the sense to getting people to realise, that we exist in this city. The main thing here is growth in population and the growth in opportunities as well. As an organisation we have been steadily building, producing artists and keeping it going. The other change has been the substantial increase in funding, we started at a £10,000 a year, to a slow increase to £50,000 a year; now we have half a million a year”.
Speaking about the roadmap ahead, Keranjeet said, “The future road map, especially for the next two years, would be to do a feasibility study to understand what it is we want to create as a national centre, everything from an auditorium to classes, to recording studios and cafes. We also plan a place for us to see films or arts that are relevant to South Asian culture”.
Speaking about the Solstice festival, held on the night of 21 June, Keranjeet said: “It was the twelfth edition which we held last week. It came through, because I have always listened to artists, who play raag (type of Indian classical singing), so raag is always based on seasons and emotion. I used to always hear those artists complaint, ‘I rehearse raag, but I don’t have any space to perform it’.
“So, I used to hear them speak about this, then I thought to myself, we should look at the shortest night, with just four hours of darkness, 21 June, that would be a great night to celebrate them. So, the Raag associated with that could be played be the artists, those who have always practiced it, but don’t get an opportunity to play it in the UK. I know there are such raag festivals in India and Pakistan, but not in UK. So, this is why we started the event. We wanted to make this one night, where you forget yourself and just immerse in music and enjoy.”