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

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