How do you define South Asia?
People keep asking me to explain the term ‘South Asia’ as distinct from ‘South East Asia’. You’d think this was simple to do, but surprisingly not. The current media focus on ‘South Asia’ and the rapid adoption of the term is founded in the economic progress in the region dominated by India.
India is the key South Asian market and economic powerhouse – it is rapidly rising to a position akin to China.
So the South Asian region is that part of the world surrounding India. It encompasses, Afghanistan, Pakistan, The Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Himalayan countries, Bangladesh and Burma.
These are the countries that are recognised by the UN as making up ‘South Asia’. Here at Parramasala, we take into account this definition , but we do not have to be so bound up by it. Our view is a bit more expansive and we’d not have a problem adding in parts of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. If we manage to find really interesting programs in these countries, we’d look for ways to fit them in to our festival.
Whilst Parramasala is called the ‘Australian Festival of South Asian Arts’, it is not specifically about presenting programs that just come to us from those countries or are made by the local South Asian communities. Those two things are important and are great for contributions to the programs. But we have always been clear in making the festival about the influence of the South Asian region.
So when you do come to the festival and buy tickets, you will see that a number of the artists on stages or in programs are likely to be European, British, American or Australian of different backgrounds.
We want to show the vitality and strengths of South Asian arts and cultures and this includes the huge influence that they have had worldwide. There are many manifestations of this going back centuries – in music, architecture, theatre, literature, film and dance (to name a few).
Philip Rolfe, Artistic Director