India’s Community Design Agency presents Govandi Arts Festival along with Bristol based Lamplighters Art CIC and Streets Reimagined as part of the India/UK Together Season of Culture
13th October ,2022, Mumbai: Community Design Agency (CDA), Lamplighter Arts CIC (UK), and Streets Reimagined (UK) come together to create the first of its kind “Govandi Arts Festival”. Starting in August, 2022 with six months of artist mentorships and residencies within the neighbourhood, the Festival culminates on 15th February 2023 till 19th February, 2023 with an array of events open to the public. Govandi Art Festival has a robust arts-based framework focussed on building and showcasing the skills/talents of spatially/culturally marginalised communities through inclusive processes. Supported by the British Council, Govandi Arts Festival is part of the ‘India/UK Together, a Season of Culture’. The season celebrates and strengthens the bilateral relationship, friendship and vibrant cultural bonds between the two countries and also marks India’s 75th anniversary.
Govandi, one of the most densely populated and polluted areas of Mumbai, the city of dreams, has been living in the shadows for very long. In addition to the refineries and thermal powers in its vicinity impacting the average life expectancy in the area, the lack of sanitation and cramped housing made it even more difficult for the residents of Govandi during the pandemic. Despite its challenges, Govandi is brimming with talent that seeks a chance to express itself. The Govandi Arts Festival will be one step in the direction of celebrating the neighbourhood and giving access, exposure and agency to the artists coming out of this area.
The Govandi Arts Festival has two overarching goals. First to provide residents—especially youth, with access to high-quality artistic mentorship and a public platform to express themselves joyfully; without minimising their lived experiences. The second is to use art as a gateway for those outside the neighbourhood to understand its human joys and complexities, washing away entrenched stigma and judgement.
Jonathan Kennedy, Director Arts India, British Council says: “India/UK Together, a Season of Culture will establish a network of Indian and British artists to support a more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable creative sector. The must-see Govandi Arts Festival will celebrate the resilience, inspiration, and creativity of young people in both countries.”
Sandhya Naidu, Founder and Managing Director of Community Design Agency says, “Community Design Agency has engaged with Govandi residents since 2016, working alongside them to support social cohesion and reimagine inadequate built spaces. Art and creativity are central to our work there, so launching an arts festival feels like a natural, exciting evolution that will have long-term, positive impact.”
Co-Curator Bhawna Jaimini (Lead, Community Development, Community Design Agency) says: “Govandi is a neighbourhood often identified by its structural inadequacies but it is home to a vibrant community that continues to thrive and find joy because of their sheer resilience. Govandi Arts Festival is an incredible opportunity for the people of Govandi to define themselves and create their own identity which is rooted in their culture, beliefs, talents and way of life. This will lead to a significant shift in the public perception of the neighbourhood and its people.”
Co-Curator Natasha Sharma (Lead, Public Arts and Design, Community Design Agency) says: “We are developing an alternative method of engagement by using arts as a tool to create safe and creative spaces of expression for the budding youth artists of Govandi. Our intensive mentorship program gives mentees the opportunity to share their stories and experiences through multiple artistic mediums. I have no doubt that this one-of-a-kind neighborhood-based arts festival will bring people of different communities together to celebrate and have meaningful social exchanges.”
Festival activities include:
Mentorship Program- Forty-five youth were selected to work with Mumbai based artists for a six-month period, from August, 2022 to February 2023. Areas of focus include Theatre, Filmmaking, Photography, Public Art, and Rap and Music. The resulting work will be featured in the public festival in February.
Some of the key Mentors at the Govandi Arts Festival will be
- Pankaj Rishi Kumar, an FTII graduate, has made numerous documentaries and TV series. He is recipient of Asia Society fellowship at Harvard Asia Centre (2003) and an alumnus of Asian Film Academy (Busan) and Berlin Talents (2016). Pankaj is mentoring a cohort of young filmmaking enthusiasts from the neighbourhood of Govandi to make their own films.
- Tejinder Singh, an independent photographer and researcher, has documented the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, IIHS Urban Lens Film Festival, Swaraj Abhiyaan’s Jai Kisan Andolan and many grassroots movements and events in India. Tejinder is mentoring a cohort of young photography enthusiasts from the neighbourhood of Govandi in the art of making photographs.
- Niharika Lyra Dutt, an alumnus of the Drama School of Mumbai, has worked with Faezeh Jalali, Atul Kumar, Manav Kaul, among others. Her recent screen work includes, Eternally Confused and Eager for love on Netflix, and Sutliyaan on Zee5. Her most critically acclaimed role is Sara Matthews in Paatal Lok, which streams on Amazon Prime Video. Lyra is mentoring a cohort of young theatre enthusiasts from the neighbourhood of Govandi in theatre practice.
- Sanskar Sawant AKA Chew’d Perfect, a visual artist and illustrator based out of Bombay, runs a design studio called Homework Coolkids which specialises in environmental fashion, installation
- art and audiovisual experiences. Sanskar is mentoring a cohort of teenagers and youth of Govandi in the practice of public art.
- Danish, a rapper, beatboxer, singer, shaayar/poet has done national and international gigs and performed for well-known rappers like MC Altaf and Kaam Bhari.
- Sohail Shaikh better known by his stage name DRJ Sohail, is an Indian record producer, DJ and audio engineer. DRJ has worked with top artists from India such as Divine, Mc Altaf, 7bantaiz, Dopeadelicz, Munawar Faruqui and more.
- Tash, an underground beatboxer, organises hip-hop cyphers every Sunday, where the most talented rappers come and showcase their talent. He has performed all over the country at various events and venues. Danish, DRJ Sohail and Tash are mentoring a cohort of rap enthusiasts of Govandi to create and produce an album of rap numbers.
Artist Neighbourhood Residency- Four emerging and established Indian artists were selected through an Open Call for a 4-month residency within the neighbourhood. These artists will draw inspiration from, and collaborate with, Govandi-based artisans to create new work.
Lamplighters Residency- A component of the festival grant from the British Arts Council is a collaboration with Lamplighters, a Bristol, UK based artist collective that creates work that encourages social interaction. Lamplighters will work alongside Govandi Arts Festival to create giant illuminated sculptural lanterns. These will be brought to life in a spectacular parade orchestrated by members of Lamplighters and Govandi residents.
About Community Design Agency: Community Design Agency is democratising access to architecture and design by working alongside marginalised communities to reimagine and improve their homes, neighbourhoods, and workspaces. The result directly and measurably impacts key humanitarian indicators including climate resilience, financial and social inclusion, gender equity, health and well-being. This work is carried out in collaboration with diverse stakeholders, starting with the community itself. Other partners include civic and government bodies, corporations and local and international NGOs.
About the British Council: The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021–22 we reached 650 million people.
About Lamplighters: The Lamplighters are a group of artists who formed to create Church Road Lantern Parade in Inner East Bristol where they live. Their work brings people together across diverse and divided neighbourhoods – with the street as the common meeting point.
About Streets Reimagined: Streets Reimagined is a creative urbanism practice based in Bristol, UK. Their mission is to nurture more inclusive, sustainable and liveable neighbourhoods. They do this through human-centred research and collaborative design.
About India/UK Together, a Season of Culture:
India/UK Together, a Season of Culture is a year-long celebration of the long-standing relationship between India and the UK. Marking India’s 75th anniversary, it will see a vast programme of creative collaboration, education and cultural exchange take place online, and in cities across both countries. Working with a number of partners and institutions in the field of Arts, Education and English, the British Council is developing a programme of cultural activity which will bring together people in both countries, raise awareness around key real-world issues, and strengthen and celebrate the UK and India’s educational and cultural ties. For more information on India/UK Together, a Season of Culture, please visit www.britishcouncil.in
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