Month: June 2017

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.

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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



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GemArts award winning Masala Festival returns with a mix and blend of the finest South Asian Arts and Culture, 17th – 23rd July 2017.

 Building on the success of last year’s Masala Festival, GemArts bring you an even bigger and more ambitious line up of music, theatre, film, visual arts, storytelling, dance, workshops, food, and lots more, with artists from across the UK, South Asia and beyond! We have put together an incredible programme, and I do hope you can join us.

The North Easts very own South Asian Arts Festival offers audiences and partners the opportunity to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and get excited about the future, in this special year which marks the 70th Anniversary of India and Pakistan’s Independence.

We look forward to welcoming you to the second Masala Festival and sharing this amazing programme of events with you.

Click on the events to learn more about MASALA FESTIVLA 2017 events:

Monday 17th SACRED SOUNDS: Sikh music traditions and the First World War (Sage Gateshead)

Tuesday 18th MASALA FESTIVAL at Q Festival: Indian storytelling, Dance classes, Foodie talks & more (Gateshead Quayside)

Tuesday 18th CHAI, CHAAT & CHUTNEY: cooking demo with ex GBBO contestant Chetna Makan (Food Nation, Newcastle)

Tuesday 18th GANDHARVA CHOIR: the first ever visit to the North East from India’s top choir (Sage Gateshead)

 Tuesday 18th DALJIT NAGRA Heritage and Identity: Poetry reading & discussion (Culture Lab, Newcastle)

 Wednesday 19th & 20th NO DOGS, NO INDIANS: a powerful new play by Siddhartha Bose (Live Theatre, Newcastle)

Thursday 20th SARATHY KORWAR QUINTET: Indian folk & Jazz (The Black Swan, Newcastle)

 Friday 21st CHANGES: stories on the edge, film programme (BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art)

Saturday 22nd MASALA FESTIVAL at Trinity Square: Family workshops (Trinity Square, Gateshead Central)

 Saturday 22nd MOVIES AT MASALA: screenings of The Jungle Book (2016) and Gandhi (1982) (Jam Jar Cinema, Whitley Bay)

 Sunday 23rd MASALA MINI MELA: Free family fun day with workshops, performances & lots more (Live Theatre, Newcastle)

 Further information to follow, any questions do get in touch with .

Download our beautiful new brochure GemArts Masala Festival 17 FINAL.

PhD Studentship opportunities

National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) PhD studentships

To begin in October 2017

Deadline for studentship applications: 19 June 2017 applications to supervisors

Award offers will be issued after 11 July 2017

Any queries should be directed to

Find out more here

The Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership and Northumbria-Sunderland Centre for Doctoral Training invite applications for NPIF studentships funded via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Each studentship is a collaboration between a partner organisation and University, allowing students to work with industrial and commercial partners, and leading academic researchers. Through the scheme students have access to a number of training opportunities including placements and internships.

Building Capacity in the (Multi)Cultural Arts Sector

New research into the cultural economy shows that while there is considerable public interest in access to creative jobs, there is a concern that these jobs are limited to organisation with privileged backgrounds (Oakley & O’Brien 2016; Taylor & O’Brien, 2016). Yet research that investigates the practices of arts and culture organisations that represent multicultural ethnic communities and employ minority performers and artists is virtually non-existent in the UK. This studentship will study capacity-building and resilience-enhancement in multicultural-led small creative and cultural enterprises, with emphasis on how networking processes and digital awareness impact productivity and opportunities in the sector. Particular attention will be paid to the ways that enhancements to ethnic creative industry production might not only expand and improve the cultural economy, but also act as intellectual and social ‘borderwork’, ‘contact zones’ and/or ‘engines of connectivity’ (Cooper & Rumford, 2011).

How To Apply

If you are considering applying for one of these studentships, you must first consult the Guidance Notes.

Prospective ‘Supervisor-led route’ applicants must also consult the list of 31 Research Fields and e-mail the relevant supervisor as soon as possible.

Prospective ‘Applicant-led route’ applicants must e-mail the relevant lead academic contact with an expression of interest by Wednesday 7 June at 5pm.

Before they begin to complete the Application Form, potential applicants must have made contact with a member of academic staff at one of the five universities.

For full information visit