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Theatre figures and Asian dance teacher recognised in New Year’s Honours List

Theatre figures and Asian dance teacher recognised in New Year’s Honours List

January 2 2017

Three artists saluted as wider Asian community gets many more nonours…

TWO LEADING Asian theatre figures have been recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours List.

Indhu Rubasingham, director the Tricycle Theatre in London, and Jatinder Verma, founder and director of Tara Arts in South London, have both been awarded MBEs.

Veteran dancer and teacher Sunita Golvala also receives an MBE.

While the mainstream arts community can take pride in knighthoods for actors Mark Rylance and Patricia Routledge, and entertainer, Ken Dodd, not very many artists of colour have been recognised. These are the only three we could clearly identify from the Asian arts community.

The wider Asian contribution, however, to British medicine, sport, diversity, education and the civil service, has been better recognised, and there are more than a dozen award recipients, including a knighthood for Professor Shankar Balasubramanian, Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, at the University of Cambridge and MBEs for founder of the City Sikh Network, Jasvir Singh and footballer and diversity champion, Manisha Tailor, among several others who also received MBEs.

Rubasingham and Verma have both been prominent figures within the British drama scene for some time.

Verma said in a blog post on the Tara website: “I am honoured and delighted to have received the MBE for Tara Arts and its services to diversity in the Arts, particularly drama. It is particularly pleasing that it comes as we mark 40 years of Tara Arts.

“Over four decades the company has consistently sought to make connections across cultures, a mission now enshrined in the new Tara Theatre – Britain’s first dedicated multi-cultural theatre building – which completed its renovations in 2016. In accepting the honour, I am mindful of the great strides artists and audiences have together taken over the past four decades to ensure multi-culturalism remains an inspiring and enduring vision of modern Britain.”

Naresh Aggarwal, chairman of Tara’s Board, said that Verma had been a beacon for ethnic communities looking to break into theatre.

He added: “He is passionate about the impact that theatre can have on our society and for many years has championed the importance of a diverse theatre ecosystem as a key platform for inclusion and tolerance in the UK.”

Tara is currently in still in panto mode with “Bollywood Jack” and acknowledged Verma’s achievement on Twitter.

Verma set up Tara in 1977 as a local community theatre group that covered an area around Tooting and Wimbledon. It moved to a permanent home in 1983 close to Earlsfield Station and the theatre was recently re-opened after a £2.7 million refurbishment programme, which has already won an award and has been nominated for more.

It has plans to celebrate its 40 years in existence this year and you can read more about the honours blog post and its 40th celebrations by clicking on the link below.

Rubasingham’s citation was for ‘services to the theatre’, while Verma’s was ‘services to diversity and the arts, particularly drama’.

Rubasingham has yet comment publicly on her Twitter feed and the Tricycle has not posted about her MBE.

She has been the artistic director since 2012 and last year bagged an Olivier Award for her theatre’s production of Moira Buffini’s West End smash, “Handbagged”. The award was presented for ‘outstanding achievements in affiliate theatre’.

Her first directorial work at the Tricycle, which has a world renowned reputation for innovation and championing minority work and causes, “Red Velvet” about Britain’s first black theatre celebrity, Ira Aldridge, written by Lolita Chakrabarti and starring her husband Adrian Lester, played to packed houses in 2012 and went onto conquer New York as well. It was a critical and commercial smash.

Born to Tamil Sri Lankan parents in Sheffield, Rubasingham did a drama degree at Hull University and went onto become assistant director at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and then worked as a freelance for many of the country’s leading theatres.

Golvala is a ‘disciple’ and a colleague of the man who is widely credited with bringing Indian dance to the UK – Ram Gopal. She was unavailable for comment when www.asianculturevulture.com tried to contact her.

Among the other prominent non-white artists to be recognised are actor Naomie Harris (OBE), and writer Aminatta Forna (OBE).

Main picture caption: Jatinder Verma, Indhu Rubasingham, Sunita Golvala (screenshot)

Most recently
Tara – http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/tara-arts-two-awards-annual-stage-awards-2017-star-calls-colour-blind-casting/
Indhu Rubasingham
http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/evening-standard-theatre-awards-2015-sparkling-nominations/

Tara Honours Blog Post
https://www.tara-arts.com/news-blog/news/jatinder-verma-awarded-mbe-in-new-year-honours

More on Sunita Golvala

Full honours list
http://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/580999/new-years-honours-2017-full-list.pdf

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture