Community Design Agency (CDA) in association with British Council has launched the unique Govandi Arts Festival at Mumbai’s Natwar Parekh Compound to showcase the remarkable creativity and skills of the community in a new and exciting way. Govandi Arts Festival is part of the ‘India/UK Together, a Season of Culture’.
The Govandi Art Festival uses inclusive strategies to highlight the skills of underrepresented communities. It is the culmination of a six-month mentorship programme in which 45 young people from Govandi learned from well-known Mumbai-based artists. The mentorship included a variety of artistic mediums, including rap, public art, photography, film and theatre.
After the lamp- lighting ceremony, Day 1 of the highly anticipated event saw visitors being treated to a display of photography and public art exhibitions, as well as artist residency projects. The captivating work of young and talented photography mentees showcased their unique and diverse perspectives on the world. The “Matargashti Public Art Mentorship Exhibition” was an inspiring show of the creative expression of young artists who had honed their skills by learning to use various materials and techniques with mastery. Two of the artist residency exhibits were also the highlights of the day, featuring works of the talented Nisha Nair Gupta and visual communicator Jerry Antony. Their work was done over the course of three months with the local residents. Gupta, with her mentorship skills, had guided 10 residents of the Natwar Parekh Compound to create intimate portraits that reflected their experiences in the neighbourhood. Jerry Antony’s film, “Afsana,” was a stunning journey through the stories of the residents of Govandi, presented through the imaginative medium of an animated film projected on a building. After a day filled with introspection on Govandi, the visitors were treated to electrifying performances by the gifted rap mentees, with songs touching upon the various sides of growing up in the area.
The season celebrates and strengthens the bilateral relationship, friendship and vibrant cultural bonds between the two countries and also marks India’s 75th anniversary. Organised in partnership with UK-based Lamplighter Arts CIC and Streets Reimagined, the festival was inaugurated by Mithilesh Tiwari and Parveen Shaikh, representing the Govandi community, Rashi Jain, Director West India, from the British Council, Sandhya Naidu Janardhan, Founder and Managing Director of Community Design Agency, Dee Moxon, Director, Lamplighter Arts CIC, and dignitaries from government agencies: Shri Ramamoorthy S., IAS, Joint Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, Rais Shaikh, MLA, Bhiwandi West, Arjun Rajane, Senior Police Inspector, Shivaji Nagar Police Station, Govandi West and Akhtar Quereshi, Municipal Councilor, M-East Ward, MCGM.
Commenting on the launch, Sandhya Naidu, Founder and Managing Director of Community Design Agency says, “We are elated to present the Govandi Arts Festival, a celebration of the passion and dedication of our artist mentors and mentees. Our goal is for visitors to experience the vibrant and diverse creative expressions of the Govandi community. At CDA, we firmly believe in the transformative power of art and have been honoured to work with the residents of Govandi for over six years to enhance the spaces they call home. We are confident that this festival will leave a lasting impact, both on the community and on all who attend.”
Rashi Jain, Director West India, British Council, said, “The India/ UK Together Season of Culture is a platform for emerging artists to showcase their skills and talents, alongside established artists, to audiences at an unprecedented scale. Our Season of Culture enables undiscovered and underrepresented artists to connect with local, national and international audiences. The Govandi Arts Festival is one of the standout projects of the Season and a shining example of inclusion in the creative sectors, and of the arts & artists connecting the community of Govandi in Mumbai with Bristol in the UK. The showstopper street procession of spectacular hand-made lanterns by the UK’s Lamplighter Arts bringing their iconic lantern parade to India, is especially exciting!”
She added, “Govandi Arts Festival is also a meeting point of our larger arts work in India to upskill India’s future festival sector professionals. We are glad that alumni from our festival’s programmes have been actively engaged in the development of the Govandi Arts Festival, making it a model festival for community-focused culture festivals in the future. Audiences are in for a truly international festival right in the heart of Mumbai’s suburbs.”
The art festival will present all of the mentees’ creative endeavours over the course of the following four days through a variety of photography exhibitions, theatrical productions, and rap performances. The festival strives to honour the neighbourhood and provide local artists a chance to show off their abilities and gain exposure. The event will use art to dispel misconceptions and prejudices by assisting residents of Mumbai’s other neighbourhoods in understanding and appreciating the nuances of the region. The audience will have the opportunity to view various artistic mediums created by Govandi locals, which will deepen their awareness of marginalised people’s lives.