Representatives from Déda, Normanton-based 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 grant.
They now plan to develop a further bid to the Arts Council and the British Council to develop the project ‘Derby to Vadodara and Back’ to commemorate 70 years of Indian independence in 2017.
The project aims to develop an exchange programme between universities, visual artists, dance artists and festivals.
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 travelling 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.
“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 on the streets at the Dussehra celebrations, enjoying and participating in dance, performances and pyrotechnic displays was a real spectacle.”
There will be many opportunities for exhibitions and performances, including Derby Festé 2017 and the Navratri Festival 2017 in Vadodara.
The ambition is also to create new performance work which brings together dance, visual arts and digital technology.
Artcore’s building in Charnwood Street, University of Derby premises in the city and Déda’s expanded studio and exhibition space in Chapel Street will be the main hubs for the Derby-based exhibitions and performances.
Stephen said: “We 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.
Ruchita Shaikh, artistic director at Artcore and a graduate of the University of Vadodara, who knows both cities well said: “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.
“As an organisation that was born in India and grew up in Derby, we aim to work closely with the art community in both cities to provide a platform for young and talented artists and merge both cultures to create innovative and exciting work.”
Professor Huw Davies, Dean of College of Art at the University of Derby is also very keen to develop the project and said: “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.”