Name and role: Supriya Nagarajan – Founder and Artist DirectorSupriya Nagarajan Founder of Manasamitra

Organisation: Manasamitra

Sector: Performing Arts

Describe what your organisation does?

Manasamitra is an artist-led organisation based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, delivering a range of exciting and original cross-cultural experiences. Our work is rooted in the creative vision of my South Asian roots but also by a drive to work with new ideas, forms and aesthetics from across the world, presented within a contemporary British context.

The team and I are currently working on our latest venture, the Dewsbury ‘Not-the-Fringe’ festival, a digital festival incorporating a mixture of music, poetry, dance, speech and sound, showcasing the rich local talent and celebrating the creative diversity within the district.  As well as performances, the festival will see a number of virtual workshops taking place. It’s a really exciting project and I’m thrilled that we are able to connect with our audience and launch the festival despite the pandemic. The past year has been incredibly challenging, especially for those of us working within the arts sector.

How many staff do you employ?

I currently employ one member of staff. 

What does your role entail?

Before I changed directions into the arts, I had a great career in the UK banking sector. However, music has always been my passion, from the age of five I studied Carnatic Vocal (classical South Indian) music and I’ve always been intrigued by the ways music, dance and performance can bring people together and transport an audience to a calming, meditative space. Combine this with the amazing culture and ambience of India and Manasamitra was born!

Name some of your biggest business achievements:

Since 2005 we’ve had so many incredible experiences, the team and I have had the opportunity to perform across the world in incredible places such as Reykjavik, Jaipur, London and not forgetting the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park!

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up or relocate their business in Huddersfield?

To go for it! Huddersfield is a wonderful town that straddles urban living comfortably with natural surroundings. There is a place for everyone here, from nature lovers and cyclists to corporate firms and music lovers. There are some incredible boutique venues here as well as a thriving food scene, Huddersfield really is a haven for foodies! All in all, it’s a great place to relocate or establish a business, a quintessential English town with a heart and great community feel, the perfect balance between business and pleasure. 

What are your hopes for Huddersfield 10 years from now (2030)?

In 2030 and the years leading up to it, I’d really like to see a revolution in people getting outdoors. Huddersfield and the wider areas in Yorkshire have such beautiful scenery and many people miss out on this by staying indoors, even when it is right on their doorstep! I think one benefit of the pandemic has been that people are making the most of the scenery and going for walks in their local areas.

I also hope for a surge in the activities we take outdoors as well. In other cultures, dance, music and other artistic activities are performed and participated in outdoors, but we don’t seem to do that as much here in the UK. I would really like to see people of all ages getting outside and enjoying more creative experiences in the stunning Yorkshire scenery.

On a personal level, what do you love most about the town?

Huddersfield is my favourite place; I love the ambience and feel of the town. It is such a historic place but, thanks to establishments like the University, it also has a flourishing younger community. Huddersfield has a great mixture of a city and rural culture, not forgetting the vibrant music scene!

I have a lot of long standing friends, colleagues and collaborators in the Huddersfield area as well as having lived here myself for 19 years. Having both lived and worked here for that amount of time I have built up an incredible artistic community in the area. 

Where is your favourite place to eat/drink in Huddersfield?

I really like Coffee Evolution in the town centre, under normal circumstances I have a lot of meetings there as well as just popping in for a drink myself! Also, in Slaithwaite there’s a great little artisan bakery called The Handmade Bakery, I really admire its business model. It is a not for profit that is supported by the community for the community.

What, in your opinion, has been the standout moment in Huddersfield’s history?

In more ‘normal’ times I think that the Tour de Yorkshire has been a fantastic addition to the local calendar. I hope that this local interest in international sports will continue in the future, I think it’s amazing to be able to promote the beauty of Yorkshire alongside cycling in this way. 

More recently, we have seen that something is afoot in Huddersfield. There is a plan to consolidate the music sector here and create a thriving music vibe in 2023. It’s an exciting time for the arts. The pandemic may have put a pause on plans, but we are finding new and exciting ways to deliver our projects and I think the appetite for live performance is still there, maybe more so than ever. I think this will prove to be a standout moment in Huddersfield’s cultural history.

Are there any recommendations or local knowledge you’d like to share with a visitor?

I would really recommend the Huddersfield Art Gallery, the Textile Heritage Centre and Queensgate Market. There’s such a rich artistic heritage in Huddersfield that most people don’t realise. There’s so much going on in the local arts scene and places like these really do showcase the best Huddersfield has to offer. Hopefully, once lockdown restrictions are lifted these places can reopen and we can enjoy them once more.


Social media links

Twitter: @manasamitraUK

Facebook: @manasamitraUK

Instagram: @manasamitrauk