Indian Summer Arts Society (ISAS) is a Vancouver-based not-for-profit secular arts organization that was incorporated as a BC registered not-for-profit in March 2011 and became a CRA-registered charity in 2014. Our vision is for an inclusive, diverse, and culturally rich society. Our mandate is to offer daring multi-arts events that catalyze and inspire audiences and artists in a spirit of dialogue and global citizenship. To achieve our mandate, in 2011 we founded the annual Indian Summer Festival with support from SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit and Teamwork Arts India (the producers of the Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s largest free literary festival).
Our curatorial practice is to center and amplify South Asian voices in conversation with other artistic communities. Each year, the festival presents provocative arts events that feature some of the finest artists and visionaries from Canada, South Asia and beyond. From novelists to DJs, social entrepreneurs to Bollywood stars, Indian Summer Festival has presented emerging artists as well as Nobel, Booker, Grammy and Oscar prize nominees on its stages. According to the Georgia Straight, "Since it set out to strengthen cultural bonds between Canada and South Asia, Indian Summer has made a name for itself as one of the city's most vibrant and eclectic festivals."
Our programming is rigorous and quirky with an appetite for experimentation, deep thinking, and curiosity. We see artists as important voices in the larger community, allowing us to step into the worlds they create, while also addressing the pressing questions of the one we inhabit. We offer a model for dialogue, a possibility for an inclusive community that is unafraid of striking up conversations – both cheerful and difficult. As the world builds more and more walls and as societies get more suspicious and afraid of people who don’t look like them and think like them, we believe in the transformative power of the arts and the festival is our way of reaffirming these beliefs.
The festival’s byline, ‘Where Worlds Meet,’ speaks to our focus on artistic collaboration. We create what we like to call ‘good friction’ by looking beyond the easy middle ground in order to foster true curatorial risk-taking. Our approach also includes unusual pairings of the local with the international, traditional with contemporary, and unexpected genres coming together.
We recently concluded a very successful 7th year of the festival, featuring 154 artists from 23 cities. Our 24 events saw 7,614 people attend and over 380,00 people engaged with our free art exhibitions. Indian Summer has firmly established itself as an integral part of Vancouver’s cultural landscape and was named by Westjet Magazine as #1 of the five best Canadian festivals “worth planning your summer travels around.”
These successes all speak to our vision to be a significant Canadian festival working towards an inclusive, diverse and culturally-rich society. We strive to put forward a model for how we can take our place in the world as responsible local and global citizens.