Indo-American Arts Council Records

Date Range: 19982010
Survey Conducted: Tue, 2010-02-02
Creator: Indo-American Arts Council

History: The Indo-American Arts Council is a not-for-profit resource arts organization that provides platforms for artists, filmmakers, dancers, and writers of Indian origin to showcase their work to audiences across the United States. Through arts-based events, programming, and festivals, the organization works to support the creation and dissemination of work by Indian artists from around the world.

The IAAC was founded in 1998 to address the lack of arts-focused organizations in New York City supporting the work of and providing opportunities for Indian artists. The organization aimed to expose American audiences to works of cultural production from India and its diaspora in order to raise awareness about the nation’s rich and complex history and artistic traditions. In the fall of 1998, the IAAC hosted its first public event in New York City, premiering Earth, a film by Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta and based on Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking Earth. In 2000, the IAAC inaugurated its annual film festival, which, in 2009 screened 47 films including independent, diasporic, art house, and documentary films and shorts. IAAC branched into the theatre arts, partnering with the Lark Play Development Center 2001 to produce an annual South Asian Diaspora Playwrights Festival. Erasing Borders, an annual traveling visual arts exhibition, began in 2004 and has featured pieces by artists such as Reeta Karmarkar and Vijay Kumar. Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance was inaugurated as an annual event in 2007 and has received unprecedented accolades since. The IAAC also presents music concerts, book launches, and fashion shows. With the increased population and visibility of Indians in the United States, IAAC has seen its audiences and influence grow as it continues to support the production and circulation of art by Indian artists of all mediums.

Sources: Chhabra, Aseem. “The Making Of The Mahatma.” India Abroad, September 28, 1999. Accessed February 3, 2015.

Indo-American Arts Council. “About Us.” Accessed February 3, 2015.

Indo-American Arts Council. “Events Archive.” Accessed February 3, 2015.

Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival. “Press Release 2009.” Accessed February 3, 2015.

Shivdasani, Aroon. Conversation with Amita Manghnani and Nancy Ng Tam. New York, NY, February 2, 2010.

Summary: The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) Records total 90.5 feet and include promotional materials, administrative files, and documentation related to the organization’s various public events, including its annual Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council (MIAAC) Film Festival. In addition, the IACC maintains a library of films, artwork, and books by filmmakers, artists, and writers of Indian origin from around the world. Additional materials are kept in an offsite storage facility. IAAC’s multi-media library totals 33.5 linear feet. Of this, approximately 10.5 linear feet are screeners sent to IAAC (both DVDs and DigiBeta films). 8.0 linear feet consist of a diverse range of books (some with multiple copies) by authors from India and the diaspora that include Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India, Shah Rukh Khan’s King of Bollywood, and Marina Budhos’s Ask Me No Questions. Books, brochures, magazines, journals (2004-2008), and catalogs on the performing arts, visual arts, filmmaking, film festivals (2000-2009), and other forms of media make up an additional 12.5 linear feet. A collection of comics based on Hindu mythology totals 2.5 linear feet and includes Tales of Krishna, Bengali Classics, and the Mahabharata. Several of these comics are reprints from 2000-2004 of the 1970s originals.

Measuring 13.0 linear feet are event binders (1998-2010) which contain press coverage, venue information, event photos, and outreach materials for IAAC’s various public events including premieres (Mira Nair’s The Namesake and Monsoon Wedding and Deepa Mehta’s Earth, Fire, and Water all premiered with IAAC), the MIACC Film Festival (including submission applications), and various benefits and parties. Also in the collection is a binder on IAAC’s board, members of which include novelist Sir Salman Rushdie, activist and actor Shabana Azmi, and actor, author, and director Madhur Jaffrey. Much of this documentation also exists in electronic form. Promotional materials such as postcards, posters, and brochures total 22.0 linear feet and document IAAC’s past events including a 2005 dance festival entitled “Hot Talas, Cool Rasas” and 2009’s Asian Contemporary Art Week. IAAC’s onsite artwork collection measures 1.0 linear feet and contains paintings and photographs. The organization’s active administration records measure 21.0 linear feet.

Total Size: 90.5 linear feet, electronic files
APA-related Size: 90.5 linear feet, electronic files
Languages of materials: English
Arrangement: other
Conditions Governing Access: Available by appointment only. Researchers wishing to view materials must contact Aroon Shivdasani.

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