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Season 3, Episode 9: Arts Amid the Pandemic

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On this episode, Priya talks to a panel of three queer South Asian artists about their work and how the arts have been affected by the pandemic — as well as one very unique fund that is working to support South Asian artists and arts workers in the U.S.:

  • Bhumi Patel an artist, activist and dancer

  • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto a visual artist, performer and curator

  • and Ashok Sinha, a board member of the India Center Foundation, which started the South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund.

Bhumi and Zulfikar talk about their art, including how their experiences have informed their work and how this crisis has affected them. Ashok adds perspective on ICF, and why this fund was created. Later, all three weigh in on how we can support the queer artists, and the arts, during and after these difficult times.

About the fund:

The South Asian Arts Resiliency Fund is a direct response by the India Center Foundation to offer support to South Asian arts workers impacted by COVID-19. The fund will distribute project grants of at least $1000 to assist United States based arts workers of South Asian descent in performing arts, film, visual arts, and/or literature.

About the guests:

Bhumi B. Patel is a queer, desi artist/activist who creates intersectionally feminist, multidisciplinary art to explore the contradictions of her inner landscape where she is brown, queer, working class, and a woman. As a dancer, choreographer, curator, educator, writer, and historian, she works from a trauma informed, social justice oriented perspective. Her work traverses dancing, choreographing, curating, educating, writing, and scholarship. She earned her MA in American Dance Studies from Florida State University and her MFA in Dance from Mills College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and English Literature - Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College. Patel is on faculty at West Valley College, Lone Mountain Children’s Center, and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. Patel has curated “fem(me),” a performance of femme-identified, radical queers, for SAFEhouse Arts and the National Queer Arts Festival since 2017 and has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Life as a Modern Dancer. To move through the world as a queer artist of colour, the pursuit of collective safety is both an act of labor and of necessity. Creating is her way of coping with the world at the moment. You can find out more about her on her wesbite and follow her on Instagram.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is a visual artist, performer and curator. Bhutto’s work explores complex histories of colonialism that are exacerbated by contemporary international politics and in the process unpacks the intersections of queerness and Islam through a multi-media practice. Bhutto was curatorial resident at SOMArts Cultural Center where he co-curated, The Third Muslim: Queer and Trans Muslim Narratives of Resistance and Resilience and has shown in galleries, museums and theaters globally. He has spoken extensively on the intersections of faith, radical thought and futurity at Columbia University, UC Berkeley, and The California College of the Arts and Mills College. Bhutto is currently based in San Francisco, California where he received an MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2016. You can find out more about his work on his website and follow him on Instagram.

Ashok Sinha is a corporate communications and brand marketing executive, with expertise in media relations, crisis communications, event marketing, social media strategy and internal communications. He has held leadership positions at media, marketing and entertainment companies including Publicis Media, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Product (RED) and others. Ashok holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in Theatre from the California Institute of the Arts and the University of Maryland, College Park. Trained as an actor and director, he moved to New York City to work in off and off-off Broadway theatre with arts organizations like the Lark Playwrights Theatre, Desipina Productions and others. Ashok resides in New York City and the Berkshires with his partner.


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