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New era for Kala Sangam as it launches national centre for excellence

  • Date: 5 April 2012
  • Area: North
woman painting wall

Akari Maharani wall paintings. Credit: Courtesy of Kala Sangam

South Asian arts organisation Kala Sangam celebrated the official launch of its newly renovated St Peter’s House headquarters in style last month – opening the building to the public for a full day of free arts activities, workshops, events and performances.

The Bradford-based organisation moved into the stunning Grade II listed building on Forster Square in 2008, and has successfully transformed the former General Post Office into a National Centre for Excellence for South Asian arts, culture and heritage, supported by funds from the National Lottery awarded through Arts Council England.

The official launch is a landmark achievement for the company which has worked hard over the past four years to repair and refurbish the arts centre, now home to a 112-seat performance hall, theatre and lecture hall, plus a host of further spaces for workshops, rehearsals, film screenings, exhibitions, educational activities and conferences. The new national hub is designed to celebrate the very best of South Asian arts both nationally and internationally – attracting organisations from neighbouring regions and across the world.

As well as free activities including Kathak dance and glass painting, Kala Sangam commissioned two new artworks to mark the opening. Yorkshire-based arts collective Amorphous Orchestra previewed its cutting edge interactive installation Flux – a digital flow of ribbons that uses the human body as a musical instrument. Meanwhile, Akari Maharani’s first major commission – a series of intricate visual artworks covering the walls of St Peter’s House – will remain a permanent feature of the building for future visitors to enjoy. 

Geetha Upadhyaya, Artistic Director at Kala Sangam, said: ‘The generous support of the Arts Council has made it possible for us to celebrate a huge achievement for both South Asian arts and Kala Sangam. The company will now embark on a new journey, establishing a beacon for South Asian arts, culture and heritage in the North which will become the pride of Yorkshire and beyond.’

Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: ‘Kala Sangam should be immensely proud of what it has achieved. The new centre for excellence is something for the whole region to be proud of, and for the arts community nationwide to admire – because of how it promotes both international artists of the highest calibre, and local engagement. It’s a joy to have Kala Sangam in our region, and we are proud to have supported the company in developing St Peter’s House.’

Kala Sangam is a leading South Asian arts and cultural organisation and an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation. It works to increase understanding and appreciation of the cultural traditions of South Asia, while improving awareness of racial, cultural and social issues. Through its work with local and international artists it offers a host of ways for local communities, schools and national and international participants to take part – including dance, music, talks, exhibitions, workshops, performances and outreach work.