India Visit Prompts Next Stage of International Arts Project

Arts organisations in Derby are forging ahead with their plans to set up an innovative international exchange with counterparts in India following a successful exploration visit.

Representatives from regional dance house Déda, Normanton-based visual arts charity Artcore and the University of Derby spent ten days meeting with artists, organisations and university leaders in Vadodara, thanks to a £30,000 Arts Council England (ACE) grant.

They now plan to develop a further bid to ACE and the British Council to develop the project ‘Derby to Vadodara and Back’ which will commemorate seventy years of Indian independence in 2017.

The aim of the project is to develop an international exchange programme between universities, visual artists, dance artists and festivals. There will be many opportunities within the programme for exhibitions and performances, with Derby Festé 2017 and the Navratri Festival 2017 in Vadodara being central to these presentations. The ambition is also to create new performance work which brings together dance, visual arts and digital technology to mark this unique project.

Artcore’s building in Charnwood Street, University of Derby premises in the city and Déda’s expanded studio and exhibition space on Chapel Street will be the main hubs for the Derby-based exhibitions and performances. The partners will be working with other organisations in the city to share and expand the scope of the work created.

Déda Director Stephen Munn explained: “The trip to Vadodara and the response from everyone we met was amazing. There is a real appetite both in Derby and Vadodara to work together to produce some really exciting work.

“At Déda, this will include a selection of our dance artists traveling to India as well as us hosting residencies for groups from Vadodara. We met some incredibly talented dancers from many different styles on our visit and if our bid is successful I am keen to get them to Derby to share their talent with our Academy and Degree students.

“We also hope to work closely with local businesses – particularly Bombardier which is based in both Derby and Vadodara – to reflect the industrial heritage that both cities share and are so proud of.

“Derby’s reputation as a festival city is gaining momentum and it was particularly interesting to see the excitement and engagement of people for the annual outdoor festival there.

“Seeing more than 45,000 people at the Dussehra celebrations on the streets enjoying and participating in dance, performances and pyrotechnic displays was a real spectacle.”

Ruchita Shaikh, Artistic Director at Artcore and a graduate of the University of Vadodara, explained: “Derby and Vadodara have a lot in common.

“Both have a strong industrial heritage, are well connected and have been built around rivers.  They also have strong traditions of festivals and there is therefore a great deal of common ground to build on for some exciting partnership work.

“As an organisation that was born in India and grew up in Derby, we aim to work even more closely with the art community in both cities to provide a platform for young and talented artists and merge both cultures to create some innovative and exciting work.”

Professor Huw Davies, Dean of College of Art at the University of Derby concluded: “The University of Vadodara is well respected internationally and has produced some renowned artists.

“It will therefore be a wonderful opportunity for our staff and students to work together both in a creative context and on research projects.”

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