Founding Organization:  South Asian Arts Society
Co-Creators & Co-Producers:  Gurpreet Sian and Rohit Chokhani

 

Gurpreet Sian is a Dancer, Musician, TV/Radio Personality, Arts Producer and the Executive Director of South Asian Arts Society, an organization he co-founded with Raakhi Sinha in 2005. As a performer, he participated in dozens of international Bhangra competitions, the 2009 JUNO Awards with Russell Peters, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the Bollywood TOIFA Awards in 2013. Gurp continues to teach Bhangra dance & Dhol drumming to adults and children at his own studio and at festivals, schools and universities across BC, including North America's first ever University accredited Bhangra dance course at Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. His production credits include: Fish Eyes (2006) – co-presented with Neworld Theatre & the National Theatre School of Canada; The Misfit (2008) – presented at the PuSh Festival; I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Chicken! (2010-2013) – co-presented with Bollywood Shenanigans; Stand Up! The Original Tandoori Kings of Comedy (2014); Mrs. Singh & Me (2015) – presented at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Most notably, in 2009, Gurpreet & Raakhi created a one-of-a-kind, comedic, dance musical called Bollywood Wedding. The show was co-produced by New Works and was voted the "Best Outdoor Interactive Theatre Event" of the year by The Georgia Straight. In July 2013 it was independently remounted by South Asian Arts Society. Gurpreet is committed to raising the profile of South Asian performing arts in Vancouver and across Canada. In August 2016, Gurpreet and newly hired Artistic Producer Rohit Chokhani launched the Monsoon Festival for Performing Arts.

 

Rohit Chokhani is a Jessie award-winning mid-career arts curator, writer, producer and a cultural leader.  Rohit was recently awarded the prestigious Jessie Richardson Theatre Award in the Large Theatre Category for “Significant Artistic Achievement in Expanding the Diversification of Vancouver Theatre” and was also nominated for the “Vancouver Now Representation and Inclusion Award” for his leadership in the theatre community in expanding the representation of cultural diversity. Currently, he is the Artistic Associate/Digital Theatre Producer for Bard on the Beach and Artistic Director for Diwali In BC based out of Vancouver/Surrey, BC. He is also Artistic Producer at South Asian Arts Society. Prior, he was a Producer for Diwali Fest for four years. He recently launched a sector development initiative called Project SAT (South Asian Theatre project) to create a network for developing, touring, producing and presenting national and international South Asian themed theatre projects in Canada. He is one of the most sought after multicultural voices nationally and internationally with work around inclusivity and equity with organizations such as The Cultch, GVPTA and numerous sector development initiatives. He serves as a board member for Alliance for Arts and Culture specifically advocating a voice for diversity as well as a member of the culturally diverse committee at PACT.  He has served on numerous diversity-related panels and participated at festivals such as IMPACT Festival (Ontario), Prismatic Festival (Halifax), Magnetic North Festival (Ottawa), BC Cultural Roundtable conference called re: generation, Making a scene conference and was most recently invited to the Canadian Arts Summit, Culture NEXT in Charlottetown as the future leader for Arts and Culture in our country. Rohit grew up in Bombay (Mumbai), home to Bollywood, the centre of the Indian subcontinent’s vibrant performing arts industry. He is highly passionate about making performing arts equitable and sustainable.

 

The welcoming of the captivating and spiritual force of the monsoon dates back thousands of years in India.  Vancouver is also known for its heavy rainfall. With the intersection of these two natural phenomena, the goal is to celebrate the monsoon here in the Lower Mainland by welcoming the storm with the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts, presented by South Asian Arts Society.

Now in it's second year, The Monsoon Arts Festival runs from August 6-13 in Vancouver and Surrey, with a deliberate spotlight on South Asian theatre. South Asian Canadians are the largest visible minority group in Canada, yet a simple scan of Vancouver’s performing arts community suggests that there are very few South Asian theatre professionals currently working in our industry.

This festival is unique, given that no other broadly-focused South Asian performing arts festival exists in Canada. During a span of 8 days, festival highlights include; a critically acclaimed, one-woman play, Burq Off! (New York), which has toured internationally; an Indian musical dance drama Malavika performed in Hindi at Surrey Arts Centre, presented in partnership with dance troupe Nrityenakatha; an Industry Series featuring readings and development workshops on dramaturging, playwriting, directing and acting.

In future years, audiences can look forward to a multidisciplinary arts festival inclusive of dance, music, visual, experimental and interdisciplinary arts, showcasing both Canadian and international South Asian artists and talents.