The deadline for this post has now passed.

Job Title :  Administrator (Part Time)

Purpose of the Post :
There is now an exciting opportunity to join GemArts to provide administrative support
and contribute to the smooth running of the organisation.
We are looking for a highly motivated and proactive person. The successful applicant
will report directly to GemArts’ Director and Board of Trustees, and will work closely with the Project Manager, Communications and Development Officer, staff and other

Main Duties and Responsibilities :
The duties and responsibilities outlined below are intended to be an indication of the
scope and nature of the post and are subject to review periodically through staff review
and appraisal;
• Provide support to the Director, Project Manager, Communications and Development
Officer and other members of the trustees, management committee, staff and
volunteers as required.
• Ensure effective and efficient company administration
• Undertake routine office duties, including dealing with the post, mailing, record
keeping and filing, word processing and database maintenance.
• Maintain paper and electronic filing systems
• Be responsible for the organisation’s administration and the implementation and
maintenance of appropriate office systems and up to date financial records.
• Deal effectively and efficiently with enquiries and requests from members of the
public, partner organisations and individual artists.
• Provide specific project support, including appropriate support of the planning
process, contacting artists and participants, preparing schedules and itineraries,
keeping up to date records, managing bookings and assisting at events and
performances as required.
• Provide administrative support to meetings as required including board meetings –
minutes, send out paperwork, diary management, room booking etc.
• Maintain the website/social networking sites/email newsletter and change images
and content as required.
• Accept responsibility for appropriate behaviour regarding Health & Safety, Equality
and Diversity, fair treatment of others and maintenance of high levels of customer
service, as well as compliance with appropriate policies.
• Undertake other duties appropriate to the post and in line with the needs of the

Full job spec : GemArts Administrator Job Spec Jan2018

Location : Based in GemArts office in Gateshead with occasional regional or national travel.

Hours : Part-time, 2 days or 16 hours per week.

Salary : £15,405.00 pro rata plus pension.

Deadline : 2pm Friday 26th January 2018.

How to apply for the post : Please send an up to date CV to  by 2pm on Friday 26th January 2018.



Merry Christmas

Roopa Panesar

Each year when I look back at the previous 12 months, I get a sense of awe at the achievements of our small (but mighty) team, and the wonderful artists, communities, volunteers and organisations GemArts has worked with. It’s also a time for me to consider how generous our donors, funders and audiences are, so thank you for supporting our work in so many ways.

Throughout 2017 we continued to do what we do best, showcasing the best and brightest artistic talent from the UK and abroad, championing creativity and diversity, and always ensuring artists received the support and profile they deserve. GemArts’ audiences were given access to unique cultural experiences, with people of all ages and backgrounds joining us in making exceptional music, dance and art, while developing new skills and building confidence along the way. Communities continue to face inequalities and challenges, but through our arts projects we have seen the people of the North East come together, to inspire and support each other, and celebrate diversity.

This year we strengthened relationships and developed new partnerships, increasing the reach and impact of GemArts work, for which we were recognised with awards and accolades. We’ve picked a few of our highlights from 2017, click on the red text to find out more about each, and I’m sure you will have your own favourites.

In February I will travel to London to collect my MBE for services to Arts and Culture – a huge honour and privilege! I personally feel this achievement recognises the collective efforts of everyone who has supported GemArts over the years. I am eternally grateful to you all.

On behalf of everyone at GemArts and GVEMSG, I would like to  thank you for your continued support, and wish you a very merry Christmas, and all the best for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Best wishes and see you in 2018.

Vikas Kumar, MBE
Director, GemArts

Gandharva_Choir 2

Masala Festival – Following a Journal Culture Arts Council Award win, our week-long festival returned in July. Thousands of people joined us for a mix and blend of the very finest South Asian arts and culture, enjoying live musicexhibitionscooking demosspecial festival menusfamily fun daysworkshopspoetry readingstheatrefilm screenings and lots more. The festival returns on the 16th July 2018 packed with even more exceptional art!

GemArts Riverside Ragas – Presented the best of raag based music, accompanying concerts with informative pre concert talks, masterclasses and demonstrations. 2017’s Riverside Ragas featured; Guiliano Modarelli (Routes), Kobini Ananth and Yarlinie Thanabalasingham (An Inner Voice)Baluji ShrivastavRoopa Panesar and Bhupinder ChaggarDebasmita Bhattacharya and Gurdain Rayatt, and we’ve an incredible line up for Spring Summer 2018.

God and Mortals – Our first collaboration with Sunderland Stages was a stunning performance by an ensemble of the country’s finest Odissi dancers and musicians, staged within the breath-taking setting of Sunderland Minster.

Health and Wellbeing – To help tackle social isolation we worked with Gateshead Carers BME groups to create “arrival and survival” a showcase of art work representing Identity and Isolation. Members of GVEMSG’s Feel Good Group were also extremely busy creating unique glass, sharing skills, developing support networks and using new creative and enterprise skills to raise more than £358 for their project, meaning more women will benefit from the support and activities on offer. Read the Feel Good Group’s blog here.

East by North East – Our Youth Music funded project offered music making opportunities to over 190 young people each week throughout 2017. Watching young participants grow in their musical skills and confidence has been a real highlight of this project, and this would not have been possible without the strong team of committed, talented and awe inspiring music leaders and partners we have on board. Here’s to another two years!

Dispersed Belongings – From Syria to Gateshead explored belonging among refugee-background Syrian young people living in Gateshead, in partnership with Durham University and Gateshead Council. Young people participated in workshops with professional visual artists and musicians, and produced works that reflected their ideas and experiences. The project culminated in an event at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and a week-long exhibition in the Shipley Lounge as part of the national Platforma Festival.

GemArts Mini Melas – Between February and October we packed in a whopping FOUR Mini Melas, bringing free family arts activity to GatesheadNewcastleSouth Shields and Durham. In total over 1500 children and their families visited us at a Mini Mela in 2017, joining in arts activity from around the world, and some even completed Arts Award in a day (an incredible 101 young people achieved Arts Award through GemArts in 2017). Thanks to all the partners who provided a venue for or supported one of our Mini Melas this year.


Kathakali schools performance – 200 local primary school students had the unique opportunity to take part in workshops and watch the world renowned Kala Chethena Kathakali Company, perform in Gateshead. Pupils experienced the entrancing world of ancient Hindu storytelling through this sacred theatre art form with its striking visual imagery, ancient sign language, superb singing and movement.

Anti Hate Crime work – Continuing this award winning work with young people, pupils from Brandling Primary School, Gateshead worked on a creative writing project exploring the theme of “respect”, with artist Laura Degnan. Pupils developed reading and writing skills using creative storytelling techniques and film making. Members of Gateshead Muslim Centre young people’s group (age 6-15), used animation as a creative tool with artist Lesley anne Rose, discussing Hate Crime and how to report it. Learning story boarding and animation techniques, the young people created their very own animation which you can watch here.

Great North Run- Thanks to a grant we were able to purchase places in the GNR 2017. Not only did our runners (Anj, David, Jamie, Stuart and Tom) complete the worlds largest half marathon, they also totally smashed their fundraising targets, donating an impressive £2200 to our charity! All donations help GemArts deliver life enhancing arts projects, you can sign up to Run and Raise or simply contribute to GemArts here.
GemArts Spring Summer 2018 programme launches on Friday 19th January.
Follow this link to find out more. 

Images from top: Riverside Ragas Roopa Panesar by Anna Miller, The Gandharva Choir Masala Festival by Anna Miller, Mini Movers Masala Festival  by Anna Miller, Riverside Ragas Debasmita Bhattacharya by Anna Miller, Feel Good Group jewellery stall by Anna Miller,Gods and Mortals Sunderland Stages by Richard Kenworthy, From Syria to Gateshead My country is unforgettable by Mohamad, The Kala Chethena Kathakali CompanyRajasthan Heritage Brass Band Masala Festival by Anna Miller


New Opera Development Opportunity


CurveGemArtsLyricOpera NorthRoyal Opera House

We are looking for music-makers, theatre-makers and writers from BAME backgrounds who are interested in exploring new possibilities in collaborative artistic creation.

This is an opportunity to;

  • be commissioned to develop an original idea
  • be mentored on the development of your project
  • work with singers and musicians to develop your idea
  • present work-in-progress and receive feedback
  • develop a project with GemArts, Lyric or Curve, supported by Opera North and Royal Opera

We believe opera is where music, theatre and movement meet.  It is the most vibrant and flexible of genres, and is the perfect platform for telling diverse stories in diverse ways.  Our definition of opera is broad –embracing music, theatre and movement from all cultural traditions – and we are seeking new stories and innovative approaches.

At this stage, the scale of your proposal does not matter.  But it must meet the following criteria:

  • your project must involve one or more collaborators
  • the lead artist for your project must be based in the UK.

We will select three projects for a development commission and fully support those artists as they develop their work.

If you’d like to know more please email or call Anwar Ibrahim at or 020 7212 9387.
When:                 From December 2017 to July 2018

Who:                   Writers, Composers, Directors, Theatre-Makers

Cost:                   We will commission the artists selected to develop their work

How to Apply:   Click on the link below, or complete the expression of interest form and send to by Monday 23rd October.

Expression of interest form – New Opera Development Opportunity Oct17-July18

Link to online version of form –


East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts, providing opportunities for young people from diverse communities to come together and make music.  The project has already enabled over 190 young people to develop and share their compositions and performance skills in a wide range of genres, while addressing issues relevant to their lives, developing life skills and achieving Arts Award.

In addition, GemArts has further diversified the workforce of music practitioners, and East by North East offers training and development to ensure that creativity and diversity is thriving in the North East!

To celebrate the project we’ve asked some of our music leaders to share their thoughts on East by North East, their own development, and the groups they worked with. Read on for our second blog post.

GemArts East by North East Blog by Izzy Finch, Music Leader 

In 2016 I became one of the musicians for the GemArts project East by North East (EbNE), working with young women aged 13-16 from the Czech and Roma communities in the West End of Newcastle. When we first began our weekly sessions at CHAT Trust, the group were shy and their conversational English was emerging. This meant that, without interpreters at the sessions, we initially found communication problematic with regard to expectations and outcomes for the project.

Over the course of the year, we began exploring different genres of music and the girls began singing. This developed into rapping and gradually evolved into writing their own material and performing locally in both their heritage language and in English. Some of the issues we encountered early on included communication barriers, low self-esteem, social and gender related tensions and even tensions between our project and the perceptions of the school the young women attended.

There was one session where one of the young women told me that she had fallen behind with homework and was struggling at school. Having recently discovered that she was unable to read or write I had wondered how she would be managing at school and if she was accessing support. We stayed behind and worked on some of her assignments and discussed things she could ask her teachers about. This was a significant moment for me, in helping me to appreciate how a safe, creative space enabled the development of BAMER women who joined our project completely unable or unwilling to engage with seemingly inaccessible tasks or assignments that demanded a grasp of English to writing and performing original material and developing their ability to articulate their hopes, fears and aspirations within the group. Without the support of interpreting staff, the two factors that played the most significant role in empowering the young women were trust and time. By the time the project drew to a close, all of the young people were demonstrating engagement and the ability to take creative risks.

17553924_10154549287012613_8637290395246012482_n[1]Young women take part in a session at CHAT Trust

Forming a band and attending regular rehearsal and workshops was challenging for the group at first as it required commitment, determination and practice. All the young women obtained their bronze Arts Award which was a huge achievement and for many, their first experience of achieving any form of accreditation.

17757355_10154549286992613_7043715450843202856_n[1]Young people at CHAT Trust achieve their Bronze Arts Awards

The final celebration event took place at Sage Gateshead, and was a vibrant celebration involving participants from a wide representation of heritage and culture across the EBNE projects in the city.

This project serves as a good example of how, as defined in The Creative Case for Diversity, “experimentation leads to changes.” In offering young people the chance to express themselves in an inclusive space, and by using this experience to initiate creativity and original compositions, we learned that all of the participants experienced feelings of enhanced self-esteem and of a future where they had skills and strengths they didn’t know existed. “ Now I know girls can rap just as good as the boys. I didn’t think I could write a song that would sound good. I’m always going to love performing now.” –  Vanessa

In 2005, I had been invited to join a refugee integration project based in Newcastle. Mongrel UK was issue-based music and theatre exploring concepts of identity, migration and social justice. I was a 13 year old participant, yet I felt was being nurtured and mentored by strong female role models. I feel I was one of the first people to experience the grassroots evolution from participant to practitioner. Many of my professional values were shaped at that time and I feel that I experienced first-hand what a positive impact involvement in projects like EBNE can have on a young person. I have this experience at the forefront of my practice with all of the groups I work with, particularly young BAMER women, with whom I have an affinity.

LTC Performance 1000px

Life Transformation Church band perform at EbNE celebration event at Sage Gateshead

It is clear that the experience of the young person is at the centre of the project when GemArts initiates a project like this one, but what isn’t that obvious on the surface is how the journey of arts practitioners is equally important. We are actively encouraged to reflect upon and document our own learning and journey. My learning and observations have been centred around the themes of culture, heritage, gender, perception and diversity. Although my musical knowledge and experience is clearly valued, there is a finer less tangible aspect to projects like EBNE that is centred around celebrating and promoting not only the diversity that exists within communities but also that within the practitioners who are matched to deliver the programmes.

Gem Arts partner musicians who have different but compatible strengths. Working relationships must evolve to make the most of competencies and skills we have between us and what this ultimately brings to the workforce is adaptive resilience. There have been occasions where I have felt that my co-workers have had a stronger skill set for a specific young person or circumstance, but there is always the opportunity for me to support and restore the balance within another situation.

I am so proud of the individual journeys of self-expression as well as the incredible creative outcomes that demonstrate how valuable projects like East by North East are. Beyond the creative and musical end products, we have opportunities to develop self-belief, affirmation of cultural identity and values and on a very basic level… happiness!

Gem Arts develop and build pride in identity in often marginalised groups within the North East. On a personal level, my involvement in this project has made me realise how passionate I feel about working with young women; confronting and challenging negative cultural stereotypes.

If you are interested in the project please contact GemArts –

Izzy Finch, EBNE Music Leader

Watch our East by North East 2017 film here

GemArts East by North East 2017 from GemArts on Vimeo.



East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts, providing opportunities for young people from diverse communities to come together and make music.  The project has already enabled over 190 young people to develop and share their compositions and performance skills in a wide range of genres, while addressing issues relevant to their lives, developing life skills and achieving Arts Award.

In addition, GemArts has further diversified the workforce of music practitioners, and East by North East offers training and development to ensure that creativity and diversity is thriving in the North East!

To celebrate the project we’ve asked some of our music leaders to share their thoughts on East by North East, their own development, and the groups they worked with. Read on for our first blog post.

GemArts East by North East Blog by Adam Cogdon, Music Leader

East By North East is a Youth Music funded project that brings together young people, and a staff team, from diverse backgrounds, celebrating different cultures and musical genres.  The music sessions allow us to explore different tastes and develop skills in music and to build confidence together.

Led by GemArts, in partnership with Sage Gateshead and community partners across Newcastle, the project works with a hugely varied and strong team. From the beginning East By North Easy aimed to pair up more experienced music leaders with talented emerging practitioners, to develop and build a diverse resource of delivery staff, spanning creative and cultural diversity as well as musical genres.  From what we learned in the first phase of East by North East, we were able to also expand the project in 2016 to include female groups at many of the centres, this in turn meant we could offer more opportunities to female music leaders to run sessions.

The project partners include:

CHAT Trust (Girls & Boys sessions) – Fenham

North Benwell Youth Project (Girls & Boys sessions) – Benwell

Life Transformational Church (Mixed session) – Fenham

Pottery Bank Pupil Referral Centre (Mixed Session) – Walker

West Walker Family Centre (Mixed Session) – West Walker

Excelsior Academy (Mixed Session) – Scotswood

Success4All (Mixed Group) – Fenham

Recent highlights of the project:

The Mega Boyz group from North Benwell Youth Project were asked to perform at a Holocaust memorial day focusing on the forgotten Czech and Roma people who died.  The young people’s behaviour was excellent and they did a great performance of the Song ‘Mega Boyz Swag’ I was very proud of them.

There was also a great performance from ‘Gipsy Lipstick’ who attend the Girls session at CHAT Trust.  They were quite nervous as it was only their 2nd or 3rd time performing, but I thought they did extremely well! The Lads Band also performed playing their instruments and singing some traditional Czech music.  They were very well rehearsed and sounded very professional.  Both groups were also asked to perform at the same venue a few weeks later at a health awareness day.

CHAT boys band performance  CHAT Boys Band performing

We recently launched a new session as part of the project working with West Walker Family centre, they are referred young people who need a bit of extra support and they take them to various activities.  Young people are already taking part in Djing, Music production and Guitar.  GemArts was chosen to pilot a new Arts Award scheme, called ‘Discover Arts Award in a day’, which we are delivering with the new East by North East group to see if it is something we can use across the whole project.

We have been making great progress at Pottery Bank PRU where traditionally we struggled to get young people to engage and perform. One young lad who had never tried Grime style MCing before but was keen to try it, has been supported by East by North East music leaders to write his own lyrics about his area and the things that go on.  Some of the other group members helped to make the backing music and the Song sounds awesome!  It has really inspired a lot of the group to see what is possible when you try, so I am really pleased with this piece of work.

We also started a new session at Life Transformational Church in the West End, which began in Jan 2017. The participants are mixed gender and range from 2 year olds to teenagers.  The participants are spilt into younger and older groups, each focus on developing Band skills and learning how to play different instruments.

LT Church 1  Life Transformational Church

The Project works with many young people from different backgrounds including, Slovak, Roma, Czech and African.  As well as developing and encouraging musical development the project has also had a positive effect on the participants’ English skills both spoken and written

During the last few months the sessions in the project are now gearing up for the Final Celebration event at Sage Gateshead (12th and 13th April 2017). This is a two day event that celebrates everything achieved throughout the project and brings all the young people from different areas of the city together to make new friends and share their achievements.  Day one will be a day of fun arts based workshops in a different vain from their regular sessions, including Graffiti Arts, Boom Dang group drumming, rehearsal time and other music sessions.  Day two will be an evening performance in the fantastic Sage 2 Hall.  We hosted a similar event in 2015 at the end of the first phase of the project, and it was amazing! The event was well attended by families, friends, partner organisations and local councillors, who all witnessed an exceptional evening of musical talent, fun and very positive young people performing their material.

I know the whole team are looking forward to creating an even better event than last time and giving these young people the platform that they deserve.

Adam Cogdon, EBNE Music Leader

Watch our East by North East 2017 film here

GemArts East by North East 2017 from GemArts on Vimeo.

If you are interested in the project please contact GemArts on 0191 440 4124 or email


Our Friends at Northern Roots are hosting a dance workshops with Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy on Tuesday 19th Sept.

WHEN: Tuesday 19th September, 7pm-9pm
WHERE: Newcastle University Sports Centre, Multipurpose Room A (Floor 3, access via lift available)
This workshop is free and open for all to attend and does not require any previous experience of dance or performance.

Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy is a contemporary performing artist and has been engaged in artistic work as a performer, creator and teacher since year 2000. He has trained and worked with dance companies in India and Europe, and completed a post-graduate diploma in choreography at S.E.A.D in Austria in 2008. His dance creations have been showcased in venues in India and Europe. Presently based in New Delhi India, Deepak is a co-founder of an art collective, The Kha Foundation.

On Sunday 29th October a great drama will engulf NewcastleGateshead, inspired by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and epic civil rights struggles from across the globe, both past and present.
Contact to find out more or to book your place.

Download the flyer fc17_workshop_190917_flyer for more details on Deepak and his work with Freedom City 2017.

Freedom City 2017 is a partnership between Newcastle University, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Northern Roots.


Autumn Winter 2017 season


Debasmita Bhattachraya Credit Pallab Mondal 8419 Main

GemArts events offer audiences something different, celebrating art and culture from around the world, bringing world famous acts to the north east, offering events and projects accessible to all.

This season is packed with a diverse range of musicians and musical influences (from Ska and Jazz, to Indian Classical and world fusion, featuring sitar, sarod, tabla and more). Family fun days and Kathakali performances offer something for everyone, and a Khyal exhibition, Diwali celebrations celebrate art, culture and community.


GemArts is committed to introducing a diverse and rich cultural offer to as many people as possible, as always keep checking for updates and please visit the Support Us page if you are in a position to make a gift.

Find out more about the season here and download our brand new brochure GemArts-aw2017 .


Love, Loss and Happiness

by Bobby Tiwana, curator of Changes: Stories on the edge.


Still from Heer

I was chuffed to be invited back by Vic and the team at GemArts to put together another film programme for the second summer Masala Festival. Working together on ALIVE! last year was rewarding and much fun, and helping launch GemArts brand new summer festival with South Asian LGBT shorts from across the globe was very exciting.

This year’s theme, which had been brewing for some time, is CHANGESstories about personal and political conflict.  Much has happened in the world especially for us personally in the UK: the EU Referendum, and now Brexit. And more globally, the election of President Trump; the era of post-truth and social media vacuity; and the ongoing dead-end conflicts in various parts of the world with no real progress or resolution. This year also marks 70 years’ since Partition, Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan, so it feels timely to reflect on the state of South Asia and its legacy. How does the exterior world today affect us in our domesticity: daily rituals, schools, homes, love and minds?

I set myself the task of identifying South Asian content where characters are on the cusp of change due to yesterday or today; and consequently tomorrow will never be the same. The programme includes 6 highly commended and award-winning shorts from Canada, India, Sri Lanka and the UK, with narratives situated in all of these countries and Pakistan.


Still from Mouth of Hell

Childhood is a major theme in three films. HEER (by Honey B Singh) is set in gentle rural Punjab (India). The character Heer finds solace in her kid goat Moti during a difficult time in her life. In MOUTH OF HELL Anant’s instinct for survival leads him to the kind-spirited Sushila with life-changing consequences, set in the Indian interior of Jharkhand (by Samir Mehanovic). Farooq and his Ammi (mum) display a tremendous affection for each other as he tussles with her over his young emotions in THE SCHOOL BAG (by Dheeraj Jindal), set in Peshawar (Pakistan).

Watch the trailer for Mouth of Hell here.


Noma Dumezweni in Out of Darkness

OUT OF DARKNESS is a story told by nine actors. British South Asian writer and director Manjinder Virk has created an arresting work in monochrome where each actor brings their humanity to the fore. We learn about a significant event in the character’s past which has led them to do what they do today. Performed by a sterling cast of British talent.

Watch a trailer for OUT OF DARKNESS here.


Jayampathi Guruge in Returned

RETURNED is part of a new wave of filmmaking (by Vathees Varunan) attempting to make sense of post-war Sri Lanka after 26 years’ of conflict. The male protagonist played by actor Jayampathi Guruge rises out of the sand like a creature hibernating, waiting for the turmoil to pass. He enters a beautiful, bare world of gentle madness culminating to music by Kapila Poogalaarchchi.


Jitin Gulati and Dhruv Singhal in Sisak

SISAK is a love letter to my former younger self. A chance encounter between two men on an evening train in Mumbai (India) leads to a daily intimate episode to play. They appear to be from different worlds of class and mobility yet are drawn to each other by one of nature’s most potent emotions. Set to an original score by Dhawal Tandon this is a beautifully tender and vital piece of storytelling, by Faraz Arif Ansari in a country which still criminalises sex between men.

Listen to the beautiful score by Dhawal Tandon here.

The films will be followed by a post-screen discussion with industry professionals facilitated by myself, Bobby Tiwana.

Changes: stories on the edge, FRI 21 JUL, 7pm, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA

Tickets £5 Buy here

Ticket includes welcome drink

Age 14+

Running time 2 hours

GemArts NPO 2018-2022 success!

Following this mornings announcement we are delighted to announce that GemArts is part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio from 2018-2022.

GemArts Director, Vikas Kumar MBE said;

“GemArts is thrilled with today’s NPO news. This funding is hugely important to our plans for the next 4 years, and we are thankful that Arts Council England has continued to support our work during the 2018-2022 funding period.

The past 3 years have been a very exciting time for GemArts with regional and national awards recognising the positive difference our work makes, and the introduction of our Masala Festival (back 17th-23rd July) placing South Asian arts firmly on the North East arts scene. The coming 4 years will see the organisation continue to deliver an ambitious programme, supporting and championing the creative case for diversity at every level, offering something truly unique for artists, participants and audiences across the region.

This NPO funding alongside project grants, individual donors and corporate support, will enable GemArts to deliver an artistic programme with creativity, diversity and equality of opportunity at its heart”

GemArts Director awarded MBE for services to Arts and Culture

GemArts Director Vikas Kumar awarded an MBE for services to the Arts and Culture.

Vikas Kumar, Director of GemArts, Gateshead has been awarded an MBE in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to Arts and Culture.

Vikas Kumar of Gem Arts, who has organised the July Masal Festival

Vikas is Founder and Director of GemArts, and since 2001 he has been leading this visionary organisation. Vikas’ passion for creativity, diversity and equality of opportunity has built GemArts into an internationally recognised arts organistion, which continues to grow from strength to strength.

Vikas’ expertise in the South Asian and Diversity Arts sector, from a national and international perspective, has enabled him to develop an excellent network of artists and creative producers worldwide.  Working in collaboration with the voluntary, public and private sector, Vikas has made a significant contribution in increasing arts engagement amongst under represented communities particularly those from a Black and Minority Ethnic and wider backgrounds across the North East.

Through GemArts ambitious and inspiring artistic programme across all strands of work, including concerts, festivals, commissions and workshops, collaborating with flagship venues, community spaces and regional, national and international partners, Vikas has been instrumental in supporting artists at every stage of their career, ensuring that talent and artistic excellence is diverse, thriving and celebrated.

Speaking about his MBE for ‘services to the Arts and Culture’ Vikas said: “I’m honoured and delighted to have received the MBE for services to Arts and Culture. I’m absolutely passionate about the positive difference that arts and culture makes to our communities, and in bringing people together to celebrate creativity and diversity.  This achievement would not be possible without the work and commitment of GemArts and my dedicated team, our amazing trustees, volunteers, artists, communities, audiences and partners, and I’m truly humbled. Finally I want to thank my mum and dad, family and friends for their guidance and support”.

Brief profile (further information available)

Current Position – Founder and Director of GemArts 2001- Present

  • Founder and Director of GemArts, presenting and profiling ethnically diverse arts and culture in the North East, by developing high quality multi-artform concerts, festivals, workshops and commissions with both UK and international artists. In 2016 GemArts launched the first Masala Festival, which brought together Vikas’ vision for the north easts very own South Asian arts festival, and went on to win the Arts Council award at the Journal Culture Awards.
  • Many years involvement, predating GemArts, with local charity Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minorities Support Group (GVEMSG), set up in 1989 to provide support to minority ethnic, refugee and asylum seeker individuals and families in Gateshead. GVEMSG began using participatory arts and cultural events to support integration and promote community cohesion in the local area.
  • In 2001 a pilot project between GVEMSG and Sage Gateshead was launched, funded by Arts Council England’s audience development programme, which focussed its effort on culturally diverse art and artists. The project continued to grow and Vikas launched GemArts, which became a permanent feature in the North East, and is now a sector leader in culturally diverse arts and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
  • Vikas has always been a keen business man with an entrepreneurial mind-set. His business acumen and skills with numbers led him to study Accountancy, and he has undertaken many successful ventures. Following in his family’s footsteps he went on to set up and manage his own companies including a Post Office which he ran for over 5 years, and he is also a property portfolio holder.


Voluntary posts that Vikas has held include:

–              Chair of Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts’ Equality and Diversity Committee- 2013-Present

–              Trustee of Baltic Flour Mills Visual Arts Trust- 2007-2013

–              Founding member of Arts Council England Creative Case North Forum – 2015-Present

–              Vice Chair/Trustee of Bensham Grove Community Centre- 2016 – Present

–              Member of Gateshead Children Safeguarding Board Gateshead Council – 2016-Present

–              Member of Gateshead Council’s Diversity Forum- 2015- Present

–              Member of Gateshead Strategic Partnership-2015- Present

–              Member of Hate Crime Tension Monitoring Group (Gateshead) – 2012- Present

–              Trustee of Gateshead Voluntary Organisations Council – 2012-Present

–              Member of South Asian Dance Alliance – 2014-Present

–              Trustee of Sound Sense Board- 2009- 2014

–              Trustee of Tyne Theatre and Opera House Preservation Trust Board- 2011- 2014


Vikas was also awarded Gateshead Volunteers Award in 2009, and the Asian Business Connexions Art and Culture award in 2016.

Vikas dedicates much of his professional and personal time to, and genuinely enjoys attending, as many community and cultural events as possible, and is a true champion for Gateshead and the North East, promoting the region wherever he gets the opportunity. A Gateshead ‘Bensham lad’, Vikas is a keen NUFC supporter, and an active member of the local Hindu temple, having helped develop a popular children’s programme there. Vikas enjoys spending time with all his family, especially his wife Angela and young daughter Anya.

Layout 1

In 2016 Vikas’s team launched the first Masala Festival which went on to win the Arts Council Award at the Journal Culture Awards 2017.  Speaking of the festival Vikas Kumar said “It’s fantastic for Masala Festival to be named winner of the Arts Council Award at the Culture Awards. This award helps GemArts celebrate the creative talents of artists from the region, across the UK, South Asia and beyond, and recognises the incredible support we receive from our participants, audiences, trustees, volunteers, sponsors, partners and local communities, to whom we are hugely grateful! It was a joy to collaborate, connect and celebrate with thousands of people from across the region at our first Masala Festival, and we can’t wait to do it all again. We will continue to champion creativity and diversity at every level, supporting young and emerging artists, and offer people from all backgrounds and ages, community groups and schools, engaging opportunities to take part in our culturally rich and diverse arts offer.”

Last year Masala Festival offered a truly eclectic programme, spanning traditional and contemporary South Asian arts, and this year’s festival (17th-23rd July) promises to be even more ambitious building on successes, collaborating with venue partners, places and spaces, commissioning new work and presenting internationally significant South Asian artists and art forms from the UK and abroad.  GemArts Masala Festival 2017 will continue to bring a mix and blend of the very finest South Asian Arts and Culture to the North East this summer, with 2017 marking the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s Independence, some work focuses specifically on this important milestone in India and the UKs history.

For more information on Masala Festival visit

All media and image requests contact