South Asian community adds to the diverse and vibrate life of UK very much and among that Punjabi people leading the way. South Asian music also creating waves in the British nation so as the Asian Arts Agency. Jaswinder Singh, CEO of the Asian Arts Agency, opens up on his plans to carry forward the South Asian Art and music
Why &When was Asian Art Agency set up
Initially, the Agency was set up to promote South Asian arts and music in Bristol. The new vision was created in 2006.From there we grew the company to work in the South West area, expanding to national and international markets over the last 10 years.
Tell us a bit about yourself from your education, family.
My background is in music and film. I have always enjoyed being involved with music and film in different capacities whether its making or consuming. I studied at the National Film and Television School, Beaconsfield and University of West London, where I completed my Masters degree in Film studies and video production.
How did you become CEO of the Asian Arts Agency
In 2006 I was appointed to this new role of CEO to take the organisation to the next development levels. At that time I was producing music/film festivals, creating new international projects, events etc. It was the right moment for me to consolidate different projects under one banner.
As CEO of the Asian Arts Agency what have been lowest and highest points
Highest- seeing the organisation going from strength to strength and being recognised as one of the premier South Asian Arts Agency companies at an international level in the last 10 years. We have delivered some incredibly succesful projects including sold out national tours, international commissions, creating new work, working with the London 2012 Olympics festival.
Lowest point- fortunately nothing!
What is the vision for the Asian Arts Agency
To mainstream South Asian arts and music nationally. We do this by presenting the best of South Asian arts and music to mainstream venues and festivals across the world. For instance, working with festivals like Glastonbury, WOMAD, Edinburgh, Chicago World Music Festival, Global Fest New York. Similarly, venues like Barbican Centre London, Symphony and Town Hall Birmingham, Colston/St Georges Hall in Bristol, Lincon Center New York, Kennedy Center Washington DC. In the last 10 years, we have worked with some 100 plus venues and festivals, delivering 500 plus events, reaching millions of live and online audiences.
Which have been the major project you have worked on
There are so many…most recently, the Rizwam-Muazzam UK tour, which was sold out at most of the national venues including at Barbican London; bringing New York based high energy music band Red Baraat to WOMAD and being featured as the discovery of the 2015 festival by the Telegraph newpaper; working with the official London 2012 Olympics Festival, delivering a new music national tour.
Tell us about the some of the clients you have supported via Asian Arts Agency
Dhol Foundation, Talvin Singh, Zakir Hussain, Malkit Singh, DJ SWAMI, Rizwan-Muazzam,Niladri Kumar, Amjad Ali Khan (India) Sain Zahoor (Pakistan). Venues include Barbican London, St George’s Bristol and strategic bodies like Arts Council England and British Council.
Do you engage with artists/groups from diverse backgrounds, if yes why?
Yes, I believe diversity is a most important component for any organisation and society. We work with artist from the UK, India, Pakistan, USA, Europe, Canada from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
What makes Asian Arts Agency different to any other organisation?
Our dyanamic work, which includes national touring, international showcasing, creating new work through commissions, always thinking about the next big project and open to a change.
You have also done some international collaborations/projects, name a few and please write how the concept of these projects came together
Showcasing British band Dhol Foundation at 16 venues in North America and selected for the high profle New York based “Global Fest”. The concept was to showcase the best of British Asian music for international market. We were successfully selected to showcase in New York, it was an interesting process from then onwards, performing in front of 500 plus delegates made of music festivals, presenters, press etc. Post showcase, we managed to book a North American tour in 2016. They will be going back to North America in2018 for their next tour.
In the UK, we have delivered a number of tours with international artists, most recent is our new commission “Punjab tronix’ which is a collaboration between British Asian music producer SWAMI with some of the best musicans from Punjab. Creating high energy work where music meets technology.
You have worked on projects abroad, how do these differ to the UK
I find them really inspiring, you really learn a lot – different styles of working, meeting international artists and audiences. I have just come back from Los Angeles, taking part in a music sync mission. These projects open a whole new market and opportunities for us as a company to our artists.
What obstacles have you faced with some of the project you have worked on
Making sure the final delivery of projects represents the vision we set out in the beginning. We have been fortunate to achieve this in most cases which is a testament to our strong team here in the UK and internationally.
You work with a lot of east meets west projects, do you create these as CEO or do artists/group approach you with project idea’s
It’s a bit of both, as a CEO of the organisation I strive to curate global influcences in our programme, similarly I like to challenge our artists to create work that has a global appeal.
You have also worked with some of the legends in the Asian music industry, name few of these, did you enjoy working with them. Why did the Asian Arts agency decide to do projects with them
Alaap, Malkit Singh, Zakir Hussain, Gurdas Maan, Dhol Foundation, Talvin Singh, SWAMI, Panjabi MC, Amjad Ali Khan. I have enjoyed working with all of them! It’s important to present the world class talent, this strengthens our relationships with the local communities and act as a role model for young people.
How was the PUNJABTRONIX – UK TOUR concept created, what Is the vision behind it
The idea was conceived to respond to the the Arts and British Council’s Reimagine India programme, which is to celebrate India’s 70th Independence Anniversary. Due to the Punjabi Diaspora in the UK, we wanted to create a hybrid, progressive music and technology music project which features a collaboration between the best of Punjabi folk music and instruments with the current electronic and digital technology. We are already seeing enormous interest from international markets for PUNJABTRONIX. I am really looking forward to our UK tour in July and have no doubt we will be taking this project to India and North America soon.
What future projects do you have planned
We are always working on a number of exciting projects: currently we are planning national music tours for 2018; a North American 8 city music tour with British Asian sitar player Roopa Panesar in September 2017; a live concert with Malkit Singh in Bristol;offering bursaries to British Asian musicans to attend WOMEX 2017 in Poland; Punjabtonix tour in India 2017/18.
Finally, how can individuals and business contact you if they want to be part the Asian Arts Agency
They can contact us through our website (www.asianartsagency.co.uk) and social media channels. We are also pleased to hear from businesses who are interested in supporting our work.