FOUNDERS \\ MISSION AND VISION
history \\ MISSION AND VISION
ArtWallah's mission is to empower voices of the South Asian diaspora by creating a platform through which new and established artists can express the expanding frontiers of South Asian culture, politics and identity through their art.
Founded in 1998 by a group of artists and activists, ArtWallah was an annual festival that expressed the multidimensionality of the South Asian diasporic experience through music, dance, theater, literature, film, the visual arts, spoken word, comedy, and workshops.
Originating in a small venue in the heart of downtown LA, ArtWallah partnered with venerable artistic organizations across the city to attract South Asian artists and audiences from around the world to weave together a vibrant, interactive, socially, culturally, and artistically conscious community in Southern California.
In recent years, the festival has taken a hiatus, but many have missed the presence of a unified artistic and activist base and have called for its return.
In this spirit, ArtWallah rebuilt itself on May 6, 2017 with "ARTWALLAH: Resistance, Resilience, Resonance" - a day-long festival held at Cross Campus DTLA featuring panels, performances and film. In 2018, ArtWallah continues to THRIVE as a platform through which new and established artists can express the expanding frontiers of South Asian culture, politics, and identity through their art.
ArtWallah was the brainchild of and product of an incredible labor of love. Many of its initial founders are thriving artists in California and at large... and all of them have a deep and profound adoration for what ArtWallah once was and what it can be again.
ArtWallah LA would like to thank the original founders, including members of the South Asian Artists Collective and the Indo-American Cultural Center, for their original mission and vision and their support in the revival process!
Note from the Artistic Director
Hello. I'm Sheetal. I'm a director, choreographer and multi-hyphenated artist. I've had the pleasure of performing in several past Artwallah's and Co-Directed the Artwallah in 2010 with Shishir Kurup. In 2017, Manju Kulkarni and Radhika Khandelwal were a tremendous force in resuscitating Artwallah in 2017. When I found out that they wouldn't be able to produce the festival again, I decided that rather then allow ArtWallah to fall back into hibernation, I would take the baton and continue this absolutely wonderful festival to survive and thrive in the years to come.
My hopes and future plans for Artwallah include more than just a yearly festival. I'd love to see smaller salons, once every couple of months, to really support aspects of art-making that are very important to me: collaboration and process. Too often we go about our lives, artistic and personal, in a vacuum. With the pressure to create and to make a living through our art, we often don't have the space to experiment, to expand beyond what we know. Unless in a college program or attending workshops, we rarely have the opportunity to bounce our ideas off of other artists and to experience the critical factor that allows many artists to transcend the limitations of what they know and what they do: a feedback process, another set of eyes and ears to help us see and hear what we cannot. As an interdisciplinary artist, I am fascinated by the innovations that occur when we blur the lines between disciplines. Incredible projects come out of collaborations. There are also the practical needs that we have as artists. Dancers need composers and musicians for their original choreographic projects, musicians need visual artists for their projections, visual artists need writers for their graphic novels, writers need actors, actors need writers, musicians need dancers, dancers need...
Frankly, we need each other. The idea being that we are movers, shakers, artists, activists and that we are stronger in community than we are on our own. I was blessed, absolutely blessed, to grow up in the SF Bay Area within a tight community of South Asian family friends. As new immigrants, our parents formed these connections and saw the value of developing them. They are my sisters and brothers my uncles and aunties and the bonds now include a third generation of our kids. Through dinner parties, Diwali programs, camping, weddings, and funerals, the bonds of love and respect are real. Friends that are like family without all the drama. This kind of community has been one of the healthiest things in my life. But, I live here in Los Angeles, far away from my community up north, and so it is more important than ever for me to create something here. This is my selfish reason for wanting Artwallah to thrive.
The feeling in my heart at the 2017 Artwallah and the 2018 Artwallah which I produced, was one that I won't forget: it was a remembering of my roots, my home. It was comforting and invigorating to be around other South Asian folks - good, creative people. If you're new to ArtWallah, I encourage you to join the fold, see what's possible. I look forward to what we inspire in each other and to what - together - we can create again.
Always as ever,