Jitin Hingorani, founder and director of the DFW South Asian Film Festival, has been tracking the shifting demographics of visitors to his 4-year-old festival. This year’s event, expanded to four days, was the biggest to date, and Hingorani says nearly a quarter of visitors came from outside of Dallas’ South Asian communities. This shift has inspired a joint effort between a local entrepreneur and a craftsman, Anu Agarwal and Hingorani, both of whom aim to further expand the spread of South Asian art in Dallas.
“As the years went by and we saw the festival growing and the numbers increasing and the people really enjoying the programming, we saw that there was really a need for more than just film from the Indian subcontinent,” Hingorani says.
Together, they have formed a multidisciplinary, nonprofit group centered on bringing Indian and South Asian art of all forms to a much larger stage. The Dallas Indian Arts Collective will kick off its formation with a performance of Isheeta Ganguly’s Three Women from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at the Marshal Family Performance Arts Center at Greenhill School.
The play, which Agarwal says is close to the organizers' hearts, is a modern twist on the lives of three female characters inspired by the work of Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali author and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature.
“We feel like that’s so symbolic of what we’re trying to do,” Hingorani says. “We are taking ancient art, and we’re retelling it for Dallas with a modern twist.”
Agarwal says the purchase of warehouse space in Dallas’ Design District was part of the impetus to create the group. Their 11,000-square-foot location is still under renovation but will likely be ready by their second event this August. While art collectives have been calling warehouses and old storefronts home in Dallas for years, DIAC’s goals of breaking down cultural boundaries certainly seem more ambitious.
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“We didn’t want to make this Indian center out in Plano or Richardson or Las Colinas where all the Indians live,” Hingorani says. “We wanted it to be in the heart of Dallas because we wanted it to be our gift to the community, and we wanted this to be something that everyone can enjoy.”
DIAC will also offer performance and gallery space to other groups in Dallas once its location is complete and plans to showcase art of all forms from both local and international artists. The follow-up show in August will feature a Kathak performance. The narrative dance style was derived from traveling bards in ancient Northern India. Both Hingorani and Agarwal are already scouting for future events.
“It’s not just for our Indian artists from DIAC who are going to come and have a home there,” Hingorani says. “We want this to be a space for all artists.”
Tickets and information can be found on DIAC’s website.