Witnessing the hardship endured by dancers during the Covid-19 lockdown, Founder Producer Anand Bhatt joined forces with Artistic Director Aakash Odedra and HR Consultant Risha Budhdeo to raise funds in celebration of their birthdays. Friends, family and supporters of the company generously gifted £5500.
Between them, they each decided to use the funds to make awards to artists and dancers who have a relationship with Aakash Odedra Company and without whom the company would not have been able to develop its work over the last 10 years, and into the next 10 years.
It was decided that part of the fund should be distributed to the #ArtMatters initiative, set up to help create awareness about the new reality of various art communities across India, action change and develop support channels for them. This funding will help provide immediate relief to artists and their families. The initiative has been set up and administered by Aakash Odedra’s long-term collaborator, supporter and friend Aditi Mangaldas and supports artists in India who have directly had an impact on the development of Aakash Odedra Company’s work.
Our Artistic Director Aakash Odedra felt very strongly that as the company does not employ full-time dancers we needed to reach out and support freelance dancers we have worked with who may not have the support of a government scheme. To this end we have supported each of the eight dancers based in Turkey who contributed to the development and performance of the company’s first ensemble production, #JeSuis.
Aakash Odedra said:
“It’s important to me that during this time of global uncertainty we continue to support each other where we can. This hardship fund has enabled me to support artists in need, many of whom I have worked with in the past to create a repertoire I am proud of; and those who I consider to be the future of the artform. We need to consider the future of the arts and support artists so we can work together again.”
The fund has also enabled the company to look to the future, by supporting dancers and artists we work with through our apprentice company Aakash Odedra 2. With 50% of the funds raised distributed to six dancers we have been working with over the last 18 months. Each of the six recipients have recently begun their careers in dance as performers, teachers and makers and for all of them, COVID-19 has put a pause on their emerging talents and voices.
"It has been motivating and encouraging to know that we as freelance dancers are being looked out for during this challenging time. Throughout the lockdown, as a member of AO2 we have received a lot of support through online classes continuing, learning more about the organisational aspect of the company, having a safe space to connect with one another and receiving encouragement and guidance from Aakash, other tutors and the Aakash Odedra Company team. For me, this generosity echoes the company's ethos and the values Aakash holds of nurturing young dancers like myself and supporting freelancers in the wider dance industry.”
"In the midst of this uncertain time, it's encouraging and strengthening to witness the dance community extending help to one another and looking out for and after each other.”
“Although some classes are back up and running, it is expensive to continuously travel and pay for class/membership fees etc. especially when there has been a lack of opportunities for work recently. That’s why I was absolutely delighted to receive the hardship fund as now I have the means to go and take class with inspiring teachers again and expand my knowledge and creativity. I am beyond grateful for the generosity from Aakash Odedra Company and their continuous support not only now but throughout the entire year.”
For further information, including high-res images please contact Katie Paling firstname.lastname@example.org