There was a moment recently when I knew our work at The India Center Foundation (ICF) was evolving. It was symphonic: wonderful partners in the Asia Society and the Consulate General of India, New York, and a new children’s book by a young writer called Always Anjali, about a girl who finds pride in her not-so-usual name – a topic we all undoubtedly can relate to.
But it’s the last piece that I’m most proud of – a copy of this book will make its way into a library in all 50 states of America thanks to all of us. That’s representation at work.
In many ways, it embodies everything we seek to accomplish at ICF: Support emerging artists and cultural influencers of Indian descent in America; and to create platforms for them by collaborating with some of America’s most legendary institutions (think the Met Museum, Sotheby’s, Lincoln Center, lauded film festivals, etc).
“Don’t be shy,” we tell any young creative who calls us. “Get your work out there. We will support you.”
Like the two cultures we straddle – America, with its relative youth, always looking ahead, and India, with so much to fall back on as it ponders its future – we too at ICF mirror the dual nature of the young audiences we wish to serve. We are buoyed by everything we come from (and that includes a new immigrant narrative), and we are excited about new realities we can help to create in America. And so, we have created a philanthropic platform to support the talent borne of this duality.
As we see it, supporting homegrown creative minds is vital for the next phase of the Indian American community’s influence in the United States. We can either allow it to happen piecemeal or have it be told by others, or we can all make a concerted effort to represent ourselves.
Indiaspora’s research on philanthropy in the community goes to show there is room for us all at the table. Generations can connect through the kind of work we do at ICF – those who spent years establishing themselves, setting down roots for children, creating wealth – there is now a way to use that experience to create opportunities for those who have a new story to tell.