Kala Sangam is becoming Bradford Arts Centre

Published by KalaSangam on

In May 2022 we announced our intention to find a new name for Kala Sangam. Since their appointment in August 2022, our agency partners Out of Place have been hard at work delivering an engagement programme that has seen hundreds of people feed into this rebranding process.

Over several months, Out of Place delivered a programme of focus groups with a wide range of people – from Classical Indian dance artists based across the UK to a mother & toddler group at one of our local community centres. This programme was supported by a public questionnaire that gathered feedback from participants from across West Yorkshire and beyond.

We promised that our rebranding process would be open and transparent, so today we are making public the Brand Report they have produced. Download the Brand Report.

We’re hugely grateful to everyone who took part in this consultation and to Out of Place for delivering such a thorough, conscientious piece of work. The report is packed with comments and thoughts and contains recommendations that we have already begun to act upon – such as being clearer about our Pay What You Decide ticketing and looking at how our café offer can better match the rest of our activity.

The consultation was focused on our current brand and identity but through these conversations, in almost every session, the same potential new name for our organisation kept being suggested. It’s a name that participants felt would be more easily understandable, inclusive and representative of our work. It was suggested by groups from many different heritages and faiths, including South Asian communities, as a name they felt would include them and not exclude others. We listened, and at our April 2023 Board meeting our Trustees, with the support of the full staff team, unanimously agreed that this should be our new name.

We are excited to share that, from 2025, Kala Sangam will become Bradford Arts Centre.

From older users of Womenzone Community Centre to Primary school children in BD3, both focus groups and questionnaire respondents felt we should be proud and shout about the fact that we are in Bradford. By including Bradford in our name, participants felt all communities and the diversity of the city would be represented and that our programme of activity would be better reflected.

We recognise that including our city in our name comes with increased expectations. You can expect us to be an even more professional, accessible and welcoming organisation as we go forward.

Having listened to these conversations, we believe that becoming Bradford Arts Centre will help us reduce barriers to access. The change will enable more of Bradford’s diverse population – including our many South Asian communities – to have ownership over our publicly funded space.

We recognise that this change sees us move from a Sanskrit name to an English one, and this raises legitimate questions about colonialism and whitewashing. Kala Sangam has always been a place that has amplified South Asian voices and allowed important, sometimes uncomfortable, discussions around race and faith to take place. We support South Asian artists to create authentic work based on their own lived experience and heritage – work that can be challenging and questioning as well as celebratory.

This will not change once we become Bradford Arts Centre.

By changing our name, we hope to better represent and engage ALL Bradford’s South Asian communities. Work by South Asian artists will remain at the core of our performance programme. Thanks to the recent 255% increase in our National Portfolio Funding from Arts Council England, our support for South Asian artists will increase. Later this year we will launch the company’s largest ever commission – specifically focused on Indian Classical performance. We are proud to be a home for diverse, South Asian led festivals such as South Asian Heritage Festival and Intercultured Festival and cannot wait to use our redeveloped building to help them grow and thrive from 2025 onwards.

The consultation highlighted that, whilst the word ‘Kala’ was problematic for many communities – including those of South Asian heritage – the word ‘Sangam’ was thought of fondly, particularly by those with a long connection to the company. Although we are changing our name, we will continue to be proud of our company’s rich history and we have already begun the process of identifying a new prominent space in our redeveloped building to carry the Sangam name.

Now we have decided on a name, we can begin the process of working with Out of Place to design a brand for Bradford Arts Centre. Feedback from both our questionnaire and focus groups was that our current brand is outdated, inconsistent and needs to be more modern, fresh, and accessible. Participants liked that the name Bradford Arts Centre was simple and easy to understand, but were keen that our new brand helped it feel exciting, bright and colourful.

We want to keep the conversation alive and will be returning to many focus groups to get their thoughts and feedback as we go through this design process to make sure our new brand is accessible, avoids cliches and reflects our history and Programming Strands. We’ll also be looking for new voices to be part of this process – if you are interested in being involved at this stage please email bradfordartscentre@kalasangam.org and we will get back to you with details of the sessions Out of Place will be running.

We are committed to having an open, honest dialogue with people around this process so you can also use the above email address to ask us any questions about our name change. We are making this change to include people rather than exclude, so your thoughts, particularly about our future visual identity, will be welcomed.

Planning is well underway for Bradford district to deliver an incredible year as UK City of Culture in 2025. We will be proud to carry the city in our name from that point and we look forward to welcoming you ALL to the redeveloped, accessible Bradford Arts Centre when we open during that year.

Kala Sangam’s Board of Trustees and Staff Team.

Kala Sangam’s Board of Trustees:

Jas Athwal DL – Chair | Sufyan Abid Dogra | Amrit Gata-Aura | Caroline Harrison |
Sameena Hussain | Jenny Jowle | Marie O’Reilly | Rashmi Sudhir | Manjit Virdee | James Wilson

Kala Sangam’s Staff Team:

Jez Arrow | Fay Beesley | Sidra Bi | Alex Corwin | Alex Croft | Dave Dearlove | Philip Henegan | Nighat Hussain | Mohammed Iftikar | Mo Khan | Haider Mahboob | Steve O’Connell | Amer Sarai

Categories: General News

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