By Leah Conway
Manasamitra, an artist-led organisation based in Dewsbury, is mentoring five women from minoritised backgrounds as part of its ‘Women Composer Mentoring Project’. The project aims to help develop skills and hone their artistic growth.
What is Manasamitra?
Manasamitra is Dewsbury based arts organisation that has delivered cross-cultural experiences for over 15 years. The organisation’s inspirations are rooted in the creative vision of Supriya Nagarajan, a classically trained Carnatic singer. Supriya draws inspiration from South Asian traditions as well as inspiration from across the world and presents it within a contemporary British context.
What does the mentoring scheme involve?
The Performing Rights Society Fund and Arts Council England support the funding of the mentorship project.
In the scheme, mentees will receive one-to-one guidance and mentoring from Manasamitra’s founder, Supriya Nagarajan, who has over 15 years’ experience in the arts industry.
Furthermore, the mentoring of each artist will include advice, support and guidance from Supriya. Each having a series of tailored sessions. The final aim of the scheme will debut the creation of a new composition in Spring 2021
“Incredibly talented women.”
Supriya Nagarajan said: “I am thrilled that we’re able to work with these incredibly talented women to help develop their skills as individual artists. There’s so much potential that remains untapped within minority backgrounds, and I’m proud that we can help unlock their creativity and provide mentorship and guidance for those wanting to progress in the arts.
“It has been a rich and rewarding experience for me personally. Each of the mentees has different starting points, perspectives, goals and needs and, as a mentor, I had the biggest challenge of stepping into their shoes before every session – one shoe size does not fit all. My biggest reward has been the kinship of like-minded strong women who have a common love for music and composition.”
“The epitome of ‘Women Supporting Women.'”
A mentee within the programme said, “It has been eye-opening to discuss what it is like being a woman of colour in our industry so openly, living amongst sometimes overt appropriation and discrimination. It has actually made me feel a lot more secure talking to someone who can confirm I am not imagining things.”
Another added, “The motivation in these sessions has led me to produce more outstanding music and also increased my determination in preparing for the future without fear.”
Additionally, the programme was also described as “the epitome of ‘Women Supporting Women.'”
Who is involved in the programme?
So far, Manasamitra’s programme is mentoring five women:
- Nicole Raymond (NikNak) – Leeds based musician who released her debut album ‘Bashi’ in November 2020.
- Millicent James – Birmingham based composer and previous recipient of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire scholarship.
- Damilola Eniola (Gugaksound) – London based composer, currently influenced by building conversations between Asian music and classic instruments.
- Yshani Perinpanyagan – Genre-bending pianist whose piece ‘Hedgehog’ kickstarted her career after it gained traction on social media
- Satnam Galsian – British-Asian vocalist based in Leeds. Satnam currently performs with her band Kinaara and delivers community-based programmes promoting health and wellbeing through music.
Beyond the Women Composer Mentoring Project
The work of Manasamitra doesn’t stop with this programme. Supriya is also mentoring a new composer through the music wales program. There are also plans to expand to Women Composer Mentoring Project in the near future.
In addition, Manasamitra also hosts the Dewsbury ‘Not-the-Fringe’ festival. The festival is a celebration of the rich local talent and diversity within the district. The festival hosts events through February and march each year. From music and dance to poetry and speech. This year, as well as performances, the festival also had several virtual workshops exploring a variety of mediums.