brown man with grey beard performing in a production called Tanashah
 Navtej Singh Johar performing in Tanashah (2018)  ©

Simrat Dugal 

We are funding six new projects between artists, art organisations and festivals in Wales and India for 2021- 2022.  

Connections Through Culture: India-Wales is a grant scheme by the British Council supported by Wales Arts International/Arts Council of Wales to develop co-created projects between artists, arts organisations and festivals in both India and Wales. 

The scheme is designed to embed creative skills and develop capacity for artists and festivals in both India and Wales, and to develop long-lasting relationships between these regions. Celebrating the diverse cultural expression in both regions, grantees from Wales and India benefit from the inspiration gained from exchanging ideas and sharing their cultural history.

This grant scheme is an opportunity to build on the success of India Wales, the joint funding programme between the British Council and Wales Arts International/Arts Council of Wales, and Wales’ involvement in the UK-India Year of Culture in 2017, that marked the 70 anniversary of independence in India. India Wales was an ambitious programme that supported more than 2000 participants across 13 projects, within theatre, dance, film, literature, music and visual and applied arts, engaged more than 80,000 audience members in Wales and India and reached over 4.9 million people through social media. 

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Meet the recipients of the Connections Through Culture: India-Wales funding  

2021 - 2022 projects, research and development phase: 

Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Dream a Dream

A Thriving Future for Us is a creative collaboration between Aberystwyth Arts Centre a multi-use arts space in west Wales and Dream a Dream in Bangalore India who work with young people to develop their skills. The project will give a platform for young people age 12 - 18 from both countries to collaborate on a digital art project focusing on creating a sustainable and thriving future.  

Community artists in both countries will support young people to explore their personal connection to the idea of a sustainable future, using the tools of creative storytelling and digital technologies. The young people will explore, process and express their hopes and fears for a future that belongs to them. They will jointly edit a short film that can be showcased at events and festivals. 

Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Science Gallery, Bangaluru

This project will explore art and industry in India and Wales. The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea, South Wales will collaborate with organisations and individuals in India; the Science Gallery Bengaluru, a space for engaging young adults with science and the art, as well as the Museum Society of Mumbai (under the stewardship of Pheroza Godrej) and art historian Zehra Jumabhoy.

Industrial connections between India and Wales stretch from the imperial era to the present day. The Glynn Vivian family made their money manufacturing copper, shipped throughout the British Empire. 

Today, the steel works in Port Talbot in South Wales are owned by an Indian family: the Tatas. This project will explore these enmeshed industrial histories and contemporary concerns through interdisciplinary digital events which will explore the inter-relations between art, science and industry; bringing together artists, curators, writers, art historians, historians, scientists and economists from India and Wales.

Jonny Cotsen and Access For ALL

Deaf performer and creative consultant, Jonny Cotsen based in Wales and arts accessibility consultancy Access For ALL based in India will collaborate to develop a manifesto for accessible art (MAAF) where accessibility is at the apex of planning an all-inclusive arts festival celebrating artists and audiences with disabilities. 

The aim is to move away from ableism in the art world, which is often led by non-disabled persons for the people with disabilities, and to empower those with varied abilities. 

This collaborative bipartite project focuses on a digital artists’ residency for six artists with disabilities from both countries. Together they will create a toolkit about the complex issues around scouting disabled talent, provide a platform and representation of artists with disabilities, and design accessible spaces (physical and digital) for audiences with disabilities. There will also be an outreach program to create awareness for key stakeholders.

Kaite O’Reilly and Navtej Singh Johar

Kaite O'Reilly a playwright, radio dramatist, writer, and dramaturg who works in disability arts and culture and mainstream culture based in Wales will collaborate with award winning choreographer Navtej Johar based in India.

The Land is calling through the body is a sharing of practice, traditions, and processes, exploring the connections between culture, body, voice, tradition and the wounded land – how it calls, shapes, and speaks through us. Two central concepts will be the Welsh hiraeth; a deep longing and yearning for the land and the Punjabi biraha; the call of the heart in separation. 

Artists from India and Wales will explore these concepts with stimulus arising from the sharing of Punjabi Sufi poetry/song and traditional Indian instruments; the sarod and tabla, and traditional Welsh instruments; the harp and the crwth, alongside song. The collaboration will culminate in a live performance to an Indian audience and available digitally for Welsh audiences. They will work in translation through Welsh, English and Punjabi. They intend to tour the work across festivals in Wales and India. 

Professor Marc Rees and the Pickle Factory Dance Foundation

CRO | PAN is a creative collaboration between installation artist Professor Mark Rees based in Wales and the Pickle Factory, a dance venue in Kolkata India. They will work in partnership with the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

They will collaborate digitally to explore festivals in both countries; the National Eisteddfod of Wales; a cultural festival and Durga Puja; a socio-cultural religious community-led festival in Kolkata, India.

CRO | PAN is a conversation between artists in two temporary structures to reflect and comment upon our hybrid times and imagined futures: CROMEN in Wales and PANDAL in India. 

The CROMEN structure will be located at the Eisteddfod site in Tregaron West Wales, where Welsh artists will respond to an immersive digital journey to the Pandals of Durga Puja in India. 

The project will culminate with an installation designed by multiple artists across Wales and India that will become a pop-up venue at a park in Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival, hosting a mix of live and digital programmes involving artists and audiences in both countries.Subsequently CRO | PAN will be created as a venue for the Pickle Factory’s Season three: Take the City, hosting artists and audiences from both countries.

Wales Arts Review and Meta Arts  

Intercut labs is a 10-month research initiative between Wales Arts Review, an arts review website and Meta Arts in India, a cultural organisation who specialise in international work. The project will pair six artists from Wales and India, who will collaborate through three virtual culture labs and create an inter-disciplinary arts production for young people to tour key arts festivals and venues in both countries. At Intercut Labs, the six artists will use various processes to rethink old folk histories written for young people while devising the production. 

The labs are presented with Indian project partners Kaivalya Plays, Delhi (theatre) Littlei, Kolkata (music) and Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation, Leh (Literature). Intercut Labs will culminate in an online event for audiences from Wales and India to interact with the project partners and watch a film made on the project. 

2020 - 2022 projects, delivery phase:

Diffusion festival and Chennai Photo Biennale

A collaborative project and exchange between Diffusion festival in Wales and Chennai Photo Biennale in India with five commissioned photo-artists in Wales and India. The photo-artists are Dipanwita Saha, Palani Kumar, Tarun Bhartiya, Sebastián Bustamante and Huw Alden Davies. By working on cross-cultural dialogues, the artists will explore the theme of 'Nation State' and the surrounding socio-political intersectionality responding to the crises of our time through lens-based art interventions, installations, discussions and talks. This collaboration aims to encourage the sharing of ideas, ideologies and building collective consciousness towards both countries’ histories and cultures and will be showcased at both festivals.

Festival of Voice and Jodhpur RIFF and

Festival of Voice, Cardiff’s international arts festival, in partnership with Jodhpur Riff, an International folk music festival in Rajasthan will develop a collaborative project led by  women artists from Wales and India. The lead artists are Laura Tofarides and Mahima Dayal Mathu. Laura is a Welsh speaking stop-motion animator based in Cardiff, South Wales. Mahima Dayal Mathu, professionally known as Bawari Basanti, is a Hindustani classical and folk singer-songwriter from New Delhi, India.  

The co-developed piece will explore themes of representation and issues directly related to artists’ lived experiences through music, spoken word, animation and language. It will consider challenges of working across borders in different cultural contexts, the use of digital technologies in order to break down barriers to participation for women and to develop long-term sustainable collaboration.

FOCUS Wales and Ziro Festival

Ziro Festival of music in the Arunachal Pradesh region of India partners with Wrexham’s FOCUS Wales for a music exchange programme to develop new collaborative work between Welsh and Indian artists across art forms. Through an online festival, workshops and residency programme focused on knowledge and skills exchange, collaboration, dialogue and showcasing, it aims to build strong cultural relationships and inclusive spaces that celebrate diversity and promote Welsh and Indian independent music.

Gareth Bonello and Jodhpur RIFF

Singer-songwriter and Welsh Music Prize winner Gareth Bonello will work with Jodhpur RIFF roots music festival to develop a three-region collaboration with musicians from Wales, the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and Rajasthan. The project will develop a new piece of music through an online collaboration and a short film that will be  shown at Jodhpur RIFF 

Theatr Iolo and Hyderabad Children’s Theatre Festival

An artist collaboration and development project with Wales based Theatr Iolo, a young-persons’ theatre company in partnership with Hyderabad Children’s Theatre Festival that will engage Indian and Welsh theatre artists through research, mentorship and co-development of a children’s theatre piece. The project includes skills sharing, workshops and will encourage theatre groups and individual practitioners in Hyderabad to create high quality children’s theatre productions and establish a model for collaboration.

It is hoped that Theatr Iolo will be able to visit the Hyderabad Children’s Theatre Festival in 2021 to make connections with practitioners in India and to gain a richer understanding of organising their own future international theatre festival in Wales.

See also