Pukaar News speaks to Jiten Anand, Director of An Indian Summer about the success of Leicester’s flourishing arts and culture festival.
A colourful feast for the eyes, An Indian Summer has become a permanent fixture in the city’s calendar. Established in 2011 by a group of friends who wanted to bring together communities through a unique and expressive way, the event has grown into a successful celebration of South Asia.
The 28-year-old was born in Leicester into a traditional Indian family and encouraged to learn about his culture and Gujarati heritage. It wasn’t until years later that he realised not only the importance of culture, but how vital it is to share it with others.
The idea for An Indian Summer stemmed from the 2006/07 French festival, Bombaysers de Lille, a remarkable three-month spectacle that celebrated the culture and arts of one of India’s most vibrant cities: “It was an exploration of South Asian culture in a way that had never been done before. We thought that it was time for something unique and different to take place in Leicester as its one of the most diverse cities in the country. We wanted to create something that would essentially inspire people from different backgrounds and ages to learn about South Asian arts and culture.”
Over the years, Jiten and his team have established partnerships, sponsorships and programming collaborations with local, national and international organisations including Curve, Leicester City Council, Metro-Boulot-Dodo and Sony TV.
What started as a weekend event has now evolved into a three-month extravaganza, filled with a variety of live shows, films, workshops, exhibitions and talks. Running from August-October 2017, this year is also a crucial one, as it marks the 70th anniversary of Pakistan and India’s independence: “The last several years have very much led us to this point. 2017 and the 70th anniversary was always going to be a platform to capitalise on everything An Indian Summer has brought to Leicester.
“There’s been an exciting opportunity to collaborate in ways that we haven’t done before. For example, Curve was awarded funding to put on the incredible Pink Sari Revolution and we’re delighted to have that as part of the festival.”
Through passion and determination, the colourful celebration has earned its rightful place among the city’s most notable events. It has grown its audience from 2,000 people back in 2011 to 12,000 in 2016 and is expecting over 30,000 people this year. So what does the future hold? “One of the things we want to do over the next 2-3 years is tour the festival around different cities in the UK, and eventually expand into Europe,” says Jiten.
“Beyond the fun element of running a festival, An Indian Summer was created as a means to educate people. We want to continue using it as a way to unite communities and for them to learn about South Asian culture in an exciting way.”
An Indian Summer kicks off this weekend. For more information and the full event guide visit, www.indiansummer.org.uk
By Jessica Challoner-Sterland