Keranjeet Kaur Virdee MBE | Chief Executive & Artistic Director, South Asian Arts-uk (SAA-uk)
Keranjeet Kaur Virdee head South Asian Arts-uk (SAA-uk) based in Leeds West Yorkshire. Her role as the Chief Executive is one that grew organically very much in line with South Asian Arts-uk's own development. Since 1998, has played a pivotal role in the vision and artistic direction of SAA-uk. She has developed strong partnerships locally, regionally, and nationally with cultural institutes and community organisation and artists. Keranjeet Kaur Virdee head of South Asian Arts-uk was awarded MBE in the 2023 New Years Honours list.
Excellence, integrity, empowerment, and equality are the core drivers in Keran's approach to safeguarding and facilitating access to high quality diverse arts for everyone. She passionately believes that everyone has an equal right to be able to participate and experience culturally relevant arts that not only inspires individuals, but transforms whole communities, places, cities, providing all with tools for greater confidence for self-expression leading to a creative people, workforce, thinkers, makers, and leaders of both the present and the future.
In 2019 GEN 21 arts professional development programme was launched with aim of empowering and nurturing individuals from minority backgrounds to be potential cultural leader from of tomorrow, who are highly skilled and capable in carrying on the work of present Black, Asian, other minority, and white creative cultural leaders with full rights and confidence.
What SAA-uk means to Keran:
“It's important that there's a place for art and culture wherever people come from to share with the community. Our doors are open for anyone from any background to come and engage with the varied and diverse traditions of South Asia. We contribute to the city and the peripheral benefits are the emphasis on pride in young people's heritage and seeing them fulfil their potential
For me, it gives me purpose, drive and helps me to fulfil what I truly enjoy doing, which is empowering and serving others. In the 20 plus years I have been at SAA-uk, I've seen young people become a lot more eclectic, respectful and understanding for diverse cultures. This is because art allows them to have that respect for creativity, no matter where it comes from or who is doing it. Being able to see first-hand an artist or young learner on stage, from the first moment they're on stage to when they leave the stage, that transformation is indescribable – there is something about the magic in their eyes that makes it all worth it.”
In Keran's spare time…
Keran enjoys watching South Asian dramas, as it allows her to understand the diverse differences between different cultures, whether it's set in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab etc. She also has a passion for painting, sewing and other artistic work, and enjoys making clothing for family members. Keran also enjoys gardening and creating peaceful spaces of solitude, which is more important than ever in the current climate!