Bombaysers de Lille
The inaugural An Indian Summer festival in 2011 was a spontaneous adventure with a bunch of friends - inspired by Bombaysers de Lille (Lille 3000, 2006) where a parade of giant elephants stood high, as if an entrance for the Maharajas (Great Kings) of India was formed.
This incredible ‘Village of India’ from Lille took life in Leicester, although our festival was in a small independent cinema, instead of the streets of northern France. Phoenix Cinema was decorated with colourful drapes of sarees, illustrated walls with mandals and paintings, a comical exhibition of ‘Horn Okay Please’, cooking demonstrations, yoga in the seminar room, classic Bollywood films - and of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without an outstanding finale showcase, fusing urban sounds from the East and West.
The first festival exceeded expectations. We pioneered something Leicester had never seen - one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK was ready for its next edition.
The only way was up and we decided to 'take over' the Cultural Quarter, Leicester’s recently established destination. In the days where Curve Theatre was trying to make a name for itself, we naively asked Fiona Allan if we could take over the venue - to our delight, she said yes and we had the newly found gem of the city on our side.
We also worked with galleries, outdoor spaces for live performances, bars, cafes, restaurants and an independent cinema. People flocked in there thousands - and somehow we were winging it!
A Festival Extravaganza
This was a big moment - we approached Arts Council England for our first two year funding bid.
The support would turn our festival concept from an R&D ‘side’ project into into a successful local festival, spanning 4 days in Leicester.
An Indian Summer attracted 7,000 people and brought the Leicester Cultural Quarter to life with music, dance, the colour of holi, wellbeing seminars, exhibitions, carrom competitions, rickshaws rides, exquisite street food and the sights, sounds and magic of South Asia.
Making a Name for Ourselves
Our first city-wide 10 day festival collaborating with 16 venues. ‘Tabla with a Difference’ was an incredible showcase of live music, spoken word, dance and animated projections at Curve Theatre.
We partnered with State Bank of India to deliver the Midlands’ first Bollywood Outdoor Cinema, toured our exhibitions to Southbank Centre and worked with 36 local and national partners - An Indian Summer was starting to get a name for itself.Producing the festival was also becoming a serious operation, what started out with a group of friends having fun was steadily becoming an established business with our social enterprise, Inspirate
The next chapter would transform An Indian Summer into a three-month programme of events, much like the vision of Bombaysers de Lille.
2016 saw an R&D programme, which stretched from August to October, commencing at the heart of summer and culminating during one of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India.
Parades marched through the city, large-scale outdoor digital art installations towered in Belgrave and we were ready for our biggest adventure yet.
The 70th Anniversary of Indian Independence
70 years since the partition of the Indian subcontinent, our exhibition with Royal Collection Trust and Leicester City Council attracted 36,000 people to New Walk Museum.
We co-produced a majestic outdoor theatre spectacle with Metro-Boulot-Dodo - amazing and inspiring audiences during Diwali.
Co-producing a web-series with ImageNova was a phenomenal film project about the 400 Year history of Britain and India - which had over 190,000 views on broadcast television.
To top it all off, we produced a massive weekend extravaganza, collaborating with Leicester Mela and Night of Festivals South Asia. 2017 was a phenomenal success - and one of the biggest celebrations of South Asian culture in the UK.
Our mission to celebrate the shared culture between the Indian subcontinent and the UK was becoming more apparent than ever.
It was a momentous step producing the UK’s first Bollywood outdoor cinema tour with Sony Television - collaborating with Boxpark Wembley in London, Hippodrome in Birmingham and our home partners in Leicester - screening the world famous nostalgic film from the classic Bollywood era, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Giant Puppets roamed through the streets during Diwali and we ran our R&D Laughter Yoga community project.
9 years had now passed since the first festival, and we were on the cusp of our 10th edition of An Indian Summer!