'Southall and Beyond' - An Exhibition and Festival of British Asian Culture in Delhi, and community engagement workshops in Bangkok

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Drama


The project is aimed at creating significant and innovative engagement and impact activities with new international audiences, following-on from the activities and outputs of the AHRC-funded project 'The Southall Story: a cultural history of Britain's "Little India"'. The project is to tour the 'Southall Story' exhibition to the India International Centre (IIC) in Delhi, in November 2013. Additionally, to curate an international festival: 'Southall and Beyond: A Festival of British Asian Culture' at the IIC, of which the exhibition is a part. The Festival will include a special festival of British Asian films; a concert featuring musicians from the UK and India performing together, including a new piece commissioned especially for the event by Kuljit Bhamra; and a series of workshops. The exhibition will additionally include daily 'Southall Stories' events, where community and school groups will have direct engagement and interaction with the three consultants from the 'Southall Story' project, who will guide them around the exhibition and tell them stories about Southall and its culture. There will be a high-profile opening event to the Festival with 80 invited guests, including government officials and the British High Commissioner. Partner organisations working on the project are the India International Centre; the British Council office in India; and the Asian Arts Agency in the UK.

In addition to these activities in Delhi, the project's PI and the three consultants for the 'Southall Story' have been invited by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to undertake a series of community engagement workshops with diasporic Indian communities in Bangkok. The workshops will begin to assist the communities to create an oral history project using the 'Southall Story' project as a model, empowering the communities to reflect on and communicate their own history.

These activities will benefit a great number of user groups, and will ensure longevity of the project. Further tours of the exhibition and events from the Festival are currently being planned with the partner organisations.

Planned Impact

Who might benefit from the research?
There are many potential beneficiaries from the activities of the proposed project in the UK and internationally:
1. Public audiences and communities visiting the events of the Festival of British Asian Culture and the Southall Story exhibition at the IIC in Delhi.
2. Community and school groups taking part in the daily Southall Stories events.
3. The partner organisations of the IIC in Delhi, who are hosting the Festival and exhibition; the British Council office in India, and the Asian Arts Agency in the UK.
4. The local musicians and assistant in Delhi who will be working on the Festival and exhibition, and the UK musicians.
5. National and regional government officials and policy makers, who will be invited to the opening event of the exhibition and Festival in Delhi.
6. Local community groups of diasporic Indians in Bangkok.
7. The three consultants.
8. Community members; businesses; public sector agencies; social organisations and local artists in Southall, who will be represented in the exhibition and Festival events.
9. British Asian artists across music, film, theatre, writing and visual arts, whose work will be represented through events at the Festival and exhibition.

How might they benefit?
1. Through visiting the exhibition, the members of the public will learn about the culture and history of the diaspora; see new films in the film festival, hear new music played by UK and Indian musicians in the concert, and take part in the workshops, thus increasing their knowledge and awareness of the history and culture of the diaspora, as well as learning new skills.
2. Groups will benefit through direct personal engagement with the consultants which will enhance education and knowledge about life in the diaspora, as well as the arts and culture of Southall.
3. The organisations will benefit from the enhanced exposure of this high profile event in Delhi. The IIC will benefit greatly from hosting the Festival and exhibition which will add to their own profile of events.
4. The senior music students will have the opportunity to perform in a high-profile concert with professional musicians from the UK, and potentially perform again in the UK. The assistant in Delhi will be an arts student, and will benefit from the experience of working on the Festival which will enhance their employability potential. The UK musicians will benefit from performing in India, increasing their international profile.
5. The government officials and policy makers invited to the opening event will benefit from increased knowledge of and engagement with the history and culture of the British Asian diaspora and flow of culture between India and the UK. This may lead to the furthering of the current policy of enhancing business, educational and cultural exchange with the UK.
6. The community engagement workshops in Bangkok will allow for learning and reflection on the history of the diaspora, and empower the communities to begin to create their own oral history project.
7. The consultants will benefit from seeing their work on the project realised in the Festival and exhibition, leading to international exposure and engagement with the Southall Story organisation. They will benefit artistically from their work on the film festival, concert and workshop, which will increase their international profile as artists.
8. The events in Delhi and Bangkok will promote the work of the communities, businesses, organisations and artists in Southall, so leading to greater public awareness of Southall, enhanced pride in the history and culture of their town being placed on an international stage, as well as potential economic benefit through increased visitors to Southall.
9. International exposure of the work of British Asian artists not normally placed in the mainstream will benefit them from greater knowledge and awareness of their work, and their unique contribution to British culture.


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Title 'The Silk Road' - a new musical composition commissioned as part of the Southall Story Follow-on project 
Description A new musical composition by Kuljit Bhamra, commissioned by the Arts Council UK, and the Asian Arts Agency in Bristol, coming out of the project. It was premiered in Delhi in 2013, and will be performed again in the UK in 2015. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Impact was generated for Kuljit Bhamra as the composer; the three UK performers who travelled to Delhi to perform the work; the IIC in Delhi in having a premier of a new piece; the Asian Arts Agency in Bristol through having one of their commissions performed internationally. 
Description Touring the exhibition and festival to India and Thailand have opened up new areas of research about the relationship between the 'homeland' of India, and the diaspora communities in both the UK and Thailand.
Exploitation Route The exhibition and digital archive of interview from the project are now available for permanent public viewing in the Dominion Centre in Southall. This gives access to the material gahtered during the project.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Exhibition, concert, workshops.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

Description International symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I co-organised an international public symposium on transnational performance, with a focus on the performance and culture of the Indian communities in the diasporas of South East Asia and the UK. This event took place in Bangkok in February 2016, and included public events of a music workshop and concert. It involved the Indian Cultural Centre in Thailand, as well as Chulalongkorn University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016