Indian-American fund supports South Asian Artists during pandemic

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Photos of some of the creative artists who received grants from the India Center Foundation’s South Asian Artists Resiliency Fund. (Photo: courtesy ICF)

The India Center Foundation’s fund for supporting South Asian artists has so far given a helping hand to the arts world which is among the most affected by COVID-19, following cancellations of gigs around the country.

A total of 24 South Asian artists from various disciplines, including dance, visual art, theatre, film and design, have been awarded grants by the The South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund(SAARF) created by the India Center Foundation (ICF), over two rounds since mid-April, a June 12, 2020, press release from ICF said.

A third round is currently underway with an application deadline of June 15th.

The SAARF is open to South Asian-American artists and arts workers has already raised about $40,000, which is being rapidly distributed to grantees, organizers said.

“The money is being donated mostly by individuals who are passionate about the arts and want to support those who dedicate their lives to it,” Raoul Bhavnani, one of ICF’s co-founders is quoted saying in the pres release.

“From filmmakers to performance artists, visual artists, writers and musicians, the grantees hail from across South Asian countries of origin who represent its culture through their art here in the U.S.” Bhavnani added.

“This grant is very important for me because as a musician from Nepal living in the U.S., I am here not just for me, but as an ambassador wanting to give Nepali music a wider audience,” said. Nepali musician and grant winner Shyam Nepali, adding that focusing on creative work was not easy without financial support when gigs have been canceled.I now have time to work on my Sarangi tutorial materials, and the grant allows me the freedom and time to focus on that,” Nepali added.

Despite many of the applicants being accomplished in their fields, they are finding it hard to fund their work during this pandemic, the ICF says.

Round two grantees include artists like sitarist and teacher Abhik Mukherjee from New York, who has received a scholarship from India’s Ministry of Culture and is a member of the immensely popular Brooklyn Raga Massive.

Awardee Sanjib Bhattacharya from Ohio is a globally recognized Manipuri dancer who is also an award recipient from former Indian President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Illinois arts worker and artist Tulika Ladsariya’s paintings have been written about in publications such as Elle and Time Out.

Despite the easing of lockdowns around the country, artists are likely to see restrictions on the ability to practice their crafts for many more months, Bhavnani said, urging those interested to give them the resources to create the memories about this time of trial.

A full list of awardees and a link to donate to the Fund can be found on the ICF website, TheIndiaCenter.us.

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