Mandeep Sethi, Joti Singh Named Winners of Arts Innovation Fund

AIF is pleased to announce hip-hop artist and filmmaker Mandeep Sethi and dancer Joti Singh as the inaugural grantees of its Arts Innovation Fund, created to catalyze cultural inquiry and diversity and to create new approaches to problem-solving. The Fund, crafted to mobilize the work of the “Our Family, Our Neighborhood, Our World” (O3) project, advances AIF’s longstanding vision to build a lasting bridge – of meaningful relationships and innovative approaches – between the United States and India.

An innovative intercultural education project fostering collaboration, understanding, and social action through the power of multimedia, music, dance, and theatre, O3 unlocks the potential of imagination and creativity to help young people fuel positive change within their families, neighborhoods, and our world.

MandeepMandeep Sethi is a California-grown recording artist and filmmaker who uses media for social change, acting as a storyteller of the people. Under the Fund, Mandeep will be creating “Folk Lokh”, a cross-cultural and intergenerational multimedia project about the preservation of traditional Punjabi folk music through the lens of 21st century producers and musicians, with a specific focus on Punjabi hip-hop. Working primarily through the mediums of film and music, Mandeep’s contributions to his local and global community are focused around working alongside youth to inspire and cultivate change.

Among his many projects include the documentary “SIKLIGAR”, an incisive testimonial on the weapons makers of the Sikhs and their current living conditions. Recently, he performed on MTV Coke Studios India with internationally renowned producer Karsh Kale and at the HBO South Asian International Film Festival in New York City.

JyotiJoti Singh is a choreographer, performer, and instructor of Bhangra and Bollywood dances from India and Guinea, West Africa. She is the Artistic Director and founder of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. Her project, “Red, Saffron, and Green,” is a multidisciplinary performance piece about the fight for Indian independence in both California and India, as seen through the eyes of the Ghadar party in California. The work will layer choreography, music, and stories in an intricate interweaving of past Punjabi generations fighting for independence and contemporary experiences fighting for equal opportunities.

Joti has a deep background in large-scale, socially engaged work, including “Half and Halves,” a performance about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California featuring more than 30 dancers and 10 musicians, funded by the Creative Work Fund and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Joti is currently an Artist in Residence at CounterPULSE, an instructor at Dance Mission and ODC, and a recipient of numerous grants and awards such as the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Along with her husband, Bongo Sidibe, Duniya’s Musical Director, Joti leads a group of dance and drum students to West Africa every year. They recently constructed the Duniya Center for Arts and Education in Guinea, which will officially open in Spring 2013.

The world premiere performances will debut in the San Francisco Bay Area in early 2014. Stay tuned for updates inside the artists’ studios on this blog! Mandeep will be in Amrtisar, Punjab, to lead workshops, perform, and collaborate with O3 project participants next month.

AIF’s Arts Innovation Fund, an initiative of the “Our Family, Our Neighborhood, Our World” (O3) cultural diplomacy project is made possible in part through the U.S. Department of State.

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