Asia Society Conference on Indo-US Cultural Collaboration

Madhuvanti Ghose and Homi K. Bhabha


NEW DELHI, June 25-27, 2011 — A distinguished group of 16 arts professionals from India and the United States met here for three days of intensive closed-door sessions on developing arts collaborations between visual and performing arts institutions in their two countries.

Harvard University Professor Homi K. Bhabha launched the conference with an inspiring keynote address in which he encouraged participants to approach collaboration in the spirit of "neighborliness" — building mutually respectful, side-by-side relationships in a digitally networked, globalized environment.

Private workshops focused on the unprecedented opportunities for transnational collaboration along with the accompanying obstacles and challenges. In identifying a set of best practices for the future, participants shared candid insights into the logistical, political, and fundraising issues they face in vastly differing Indian and American contexts.

On the one hand, recurrent themes of trust and deep respect for one another's expectations arose throughout the three-day conference. At the same time, participants also focused on more practical concerns such as cultural policy issues at a state level and idiosyncratic procedural barriers in each country.

Ultimately, the group envisioned new models for cultural collaboration in the 21st century, a time when resources for cultural programming are limited, yet interest and curiosity in visual and performing arts are booming.

The three-day conference culminated in a public event. Arts in a Globalizing World: Collaboration or Competition? was a two-hour panel discussion moderated by Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai and featuring speakers Dr. Homi K. Bhabha (Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of Humanities, Harvard University, Cambridge), Joseph Melillo (Executive Producer, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York), Rajeev Sethi (Chairman, The Asian Heritage Foundation, New Delhi), and Dr. Julián Zugazagoitia (Director, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri).  

A report condensing the recommendations and findings of the participants is now available from Asia Society India Centre.
More information
Download the report (PDF)




Bunty Chand
Asia Society India Centre, Mumbai

Rajeev Lochan
National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi

Sabyasachi Mukherjee
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

Rajeev Sethi
The Asian Heritage Foundation, New Delhi

Ranvir Shah
Prakriti Foundation, Chennai

Anmol Vellani
India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore

United States

Homi K. Bhabha
Harvard University, Cambridge

Philip Bither
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Melissa Chiu
Asia Society, New York

Rachel Cooper
Asia Society, New York

Vishakha N. Desai
Asia Society, New York

Kristy Edmunds
UCLA Live, Los Angeles, and Park Avenue Armory, New York

Olga Garay
Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles

Madhuvanti Ghose
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

Joseph Melillo
Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York

Julián Zugazagoitia
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City



This conference was fully supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State. It was organized by a team of individuals working in New York and Mumbai, led by Vishakha N. Desai, President of the Asia Society (New York), and Bunty Chand, Executive Director of the Asia Society India Centre (Mumbai).