Our dynamic panel of speakers include stakeholders from diverse cultural organisations.

Yudhishthir Raj Isar

Independent Cultural Policy Activist and Scholar

Yudhishthir Raj Isar is currently the Education Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva.  He is also Emeritus Professor of Cultural Policy Studies at The American University of Paris; Distinguished Scholar/Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy (2018-19). From 2011 to 2016, he was ‘Eminent Research Visitor’ and adjunct professor at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, Australia.  He was the founding co-editor of the Cultures and Globalization Series (SAGE London), published between 2007 and 2012; principal investigator and lead writer for the United Nations Creative Economy Report 2013; team leader of the European Union’s inquiry ‘Culture in EU External Relations’ and editor of UNESCO’s two reports (2015 and 2017) entitled Re|Shaping Cultural Policies. An official of UNESCO from 1973 to 2003, Isar was notably Executive Secretary of the World Commission on Culture and Development (1994-95). He is also a past President of the pan-European platform organization Culture Action Europe. 

Arundhati Ghosh

Executive Director, India Foundation for the Arts

Arundhati is the Executive Director of India Foundation for the Arts (IFA). She has received the Chevening Gurukul Scholarship for Leadership and Excellence at the London School of Economics, London in 2005, the Global Fundraiser Award from Resource Alliance International in 2010, and the Chevening Clore Leadership Awards in the United Kingdom in 2015-2016. She is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar and has facilitated the Young Cultural Innovators programme for four years. She sits on various Boards and Advisory Panels for arts organisations and is a member of the curatorial team of the International Theatre Festival of Kerala 2020 (ITFOK). She speaks and writes on arts and philanthropy for leading Indian and international non-profit and cultural networks.

Avijit Mukul Kishore

Avijit Mukul Kishore

Filmmaker and Cinematographer

Based in Mumbai, Mukul works primarily in documentary and interdisciplinary moving-image practices. He is involved in cinema pedagogy as a lecturer and curator of film programmes. Mukul holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Hindu College, University of Delhi and later studied cinematography at the Films and Television Institute of India, Pune. In a short span of time, he has worked as a director and  cinematographer for a number of documentary films, most of which have been shown at international film festivals and won critical acclaim. He co-curated the FD Zone programme (2012-15) at Films Division India and is co-curator of the Movies at the Museum programme (since 2015) at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai.

Deepika Sorabjee

Deepika Sorabjee

Head, Arts and Culture, Tata Trusts

Deepika received her M.B.B.S. degree from Grant Medical College and the Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals before pursuing her passion for the arts. An independent writer on contemporary art and the city since 2009, she has a post graduate diploma in Indian Aesthetics from Jnanapravaha in 2011. She was a selector for the International Competition section for the Mumbai Film Fest (MAMI) between 2012-2014 and a Founder Trustee at the Mumbai Art Room, a not-for-profit space in contemporary art. Currently, she heads the Arts & Culture portfolio at Tata Trusts working on community and sector impact in conservation, art education and the performing arts and serves as the Trusts representative on the Board of Trustees at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya from 2015.

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Dipti Rao

Head - Research, The Art X Company

Dipti prefers to work across as many creative disciplines as possible. From festival production to stage management, curation, and programming, she continues to explore the many facets of arts management. Dipti is interested in the impact of the arts, the stories that data tells us, and in anything that helps bring cultures and diverse things together. Dipti has previously been a part of the teams at OML Entertainment and the British Council in Mumbai and The Courtyard and Jagriti Theatre in Bangalore and continues to seek unconventional experiences in the creative industry. She operates out of Bangalore and is the ACRI City Chapter Host.


Dolly Rateshwar

Co-Founder, The Dharavi Dream Project

With 8+ years of work experience at some of the best MNC’s – Google, LinkedIn, and MySpace, Dolly has also been a founding team member at Qyuki – a media startup by Shekhar Kapur, AR Rahman and Samir Bangara. She led the “New Avenues and Operations” at the MIT Media Lab India Initiative where inter-disciplinary efforts lead to futuristic innovation way ahead of time. Also, a Co-founder at Tesseract Imaging – a spin-off from MIT Media Lab India Initiative Lately she has shifted her focus to delivering social impact through “The Dharavi Dream Project’s #AfterSchoolofHiphop” an initiative to give hip-hop artists (under-served talent) of Asia’s biggest slum a platform to achieve their dreams via art and music.

Hema Singh Rance

Hema Singh Rance

Cultural Specialist

Hema is a Delhi based arts and culture professional with over two decades of experience in the sector. A Masters in German Literature from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, she has worked with galleries, curated shows, and organised fundraising charity art auctions. She has authored research papers on the publishing and the visual arts sector in India. Through her assignments with various international organisations including the British Council, Alliance de Francaise and now the Australian High Commission; she has worked across art forms and with Indian and international artists to strengthen international engagements in India. Hema has worked on three international festivals including the recently concluded Australia Fest 2019, a festival of Australian culture and creativity in India, which she curated.


Jonathan Kennedy

Director Arts India, British Council

Jonathan joined the British Council in February 2019. As the Director Arts for the British Council in India, he is responsible for developing national strategy, managing stakeholder relationships across government and the creative industries; and conceptualising programmes to promote and strengthen India-UK cultural relations through collaboration, connections and creative partnerships. Jonathan has substantial experience in theatre producing, arts management and international cultural exchange. From 2007 – 2019 he was Executive Director of Tara Arts, contributing especially to the major 2.8million GBP capital re-development of the Tara Theatre and the launch of the Black Theatre Live national touring consortium. In the UK he was a regular guest lecturer in all aspects of theatre producing, leadership and arts management at Birkbeck College, South Bank University, Goldsmiths, and King’s College London.


Joyoti Roy

Head of Strategy and Marketing, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai

Joyoti has been working in the field of museums and culture for over fifteen years and joined CSMVS in 2018. Joyoti is interested in the social role of museums and believes that arts institutions have the key responsibility to shape and reflect people’s futures. She has been an arts’ and museum manager and until 2017 was heading the Outreach Department at National Museum, New Delhi.

Kiruba Munusamy

Kiruba Munusamy

Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Founder and Executive Director, Legal Initiative For Equality

Kiruba is a judicial activist striving for social justice and equality. She played a vital role in the landmark verdict of a police appointment of transwomen.  She writes on contemporary issues in both English and Tamil and has been giving talks on various platforms including National and Foreign Universities. This February, Kiruba is invited to talk at the Harvard India Conference on Indian Judicial System. Kiruba is the first Indian to be invited to speak at the ‘HAGUE TALKS’ and the only Indian to be portrayed in the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, The Netherlands, among 100 human rights defenders from across the world. She has been nominated to the Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2019; 2018 Eliasson Global Leadership Prizes; 2018 Front Line Defenders Award and the Human Rights Tulip Award 2017.


Koninika Roy

Catalyst, Godrej India Culture Lab

Koninika has a Masters in Cultural Studies from SOAS, University of London. She currently works at Godrej India Culture Lab as a content catalyst. She previously worked at The Humsafar Trust where she sensitized stakeholders, managed advocacy projects, raised funds, organized community mobilization events and conducted research. She has worked on-ground addressing cases of discrimination and violence against LGBTQ persons in Mumbai and India. She remains an active part of Queer Azadi Mumbai which organizes Mumbai Pride march every year.

Neha Paliwal

Neha Paliwal

Director - Projects, Sahapedia

Neha has studied history, business administration and anthropology at universities in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Michigan. Neha has previously worked at IMRB and on multiple projects at the National Mission for Manuscripts. Having tried to learn Kiswahili, French and Spanish, she is now attempting the Carnatic violin.

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Nirupama Kotru

Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture

Nirupama is an officer of the Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) of the 1992 batch. She has served in the Income Tax Department at Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Pune in various assignments. As Director (Films) in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, she looked after the administration of media units such as NFDC, Films Division, National Film Archive and the Directorate of Film Festivals, and all policy matters relating to films. Through her current role, she looks after iconic museums such as National Museum, Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art and the Victoria Memorial Hall & Museum, Kolkata among others, as well as prestigious academies such as Sahitya Akademi, National School of Drama, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Sangeet Natak Akademi and Lalit Kala Akademi.

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Padmapriya Janakiraman

Head - Urban Heritage Documentation Project, Sahapedia

A dancer, actress, public policy wonk, gender and environmental activist, Padmapriya has been juggling different passions for the past two decades. At Sahapedia, she is leading the work on mapping the cultural traditions, arts and heritage of Indian cities and hopes to build frameworks for cultural policymaking. She has trained at NYU and NLS Bangalore.


Padmini Ray Murray

Independent Researcher and Founder, Design Beku

Padmini (PhD, Edinburgh) founded Design Beku (designbeku.in) in 2018, a collective that works towards making design and technology local, decolonial and ethical. While in the UK, Padmini (along with Peggy Hughes & Claire Stewart) founded and ran The Electric Bookshop (www.electricbookshop.org) a very successful quarterly event hosted by New Media Scotland (2010-2014) exploring the future of the written word, creativity and  technology. She was a lead researcher for the Consortium for Research into the Arts, and Technology in Scotland, funded by NESTA UK, to understand the potential offered by digital technologies in the creative industries, including theatre, tourism & cultural heritage. Padmini joined the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2015, where she established the first Masters programme in Digital Humanities in India.


Pallavi Khare

Catalyst, Godrej India Culture Lab

Pallavi has been part of two documentary film projects- ‘Aamchi BEST’ and ‘Ghutan’ and is an alum of the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. She is currently a curator at the Godrej India Culture Lab.

Parmesh Shahani

Parmesh Shahani

Head, Godrej India Culture Lab

Parmesh is Vice President at Godrej Industries Ltd and the founder of the award winning Godrej India Culture Lab, which sparks conversations  about the changing face of contemporary India. Parmesh is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in corporate India and has guided many of the country’s leading companies on their inclusion journeys. His first book Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India (Sage Publications) was released in 2008, and the upcoming Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in Corporate India (Westland Books) will be released in mid 2020. Parmesh holds an MS in Comparative Media Studies from MIT. He is a TED Senior Fellow and in the past has been a Yale World Fellow and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

Pooja Sood (2)

Pooja Sood

Director, Khoj International Artists’ Association

Pooja is a founding member of Khoj which is an autonomous, not for profit society committed to experimentation and exchange in the visual arts in India. Under her stewardship, Khoj has grown from an annual event in 1997 to a small but vibrant art institution. As Director of Khoj, she has worked actively to build a robust network of experimental spaces across South Asia resulting in the South Asian Network for the Arts (SANA). Sood was appointed Director General of the Jawahar Kala Kendra(JKK), a multi arts centre based in Jaipur by the Government of Rajasthan (Nov 2015-Feb 2019) to make JKK a centre of cultural excellence. Since 2009 she has been the Director of ARThinkSouthAsia (ATSA) which is an arts management programme for young cultural leaders. Pooja is also a Chevening scholar on the Clore Leadership Programme, UK (2009-2011).

Quasar EBT1 by Arghya Lahiri

Quasar Thakore Padamsee

Artistic Director, QTP Entertainment Pvt. Ltd

Quasar is a theatre-holic and lover of all things theatrical. Since 1999, he has directed and produced over 25 plays with theatre and Arts Management company QTP. He is also the founder of youth theatre movement Thespo, which is now in it’s 22nd year. At present he is serving on the committee of Tata Literature Live! The Annual Mumbai International Litfest, and until recently used to write a regular column for The Asian Age. Quasar also works as a lighting designer, stage manager, conducts workshops and often collaborates with international theatre makers to make shows for Indian audiences; all as part of the passionate crusade for the survival of Theatre in the public consciousness.

Rashmi Dhanwani

Founder, The Art X Company

Rashmi is the Founder of the Art X Company, a strategic consultancy for the cultural sector focused on strategy, audience development and sector research. Prior to founding Art X, Rashmi has worked with NCPA Mumbai, Breakthrough in Delhi, the newspaper Daily News and Analysis (DNA); Kalaghoda Arts Festival, and The Goa Project. She holds a Masters in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London. She has also been a recipient of the ARThink South Asia Fellowship (2011-12), a participant fellow at ‘The Academy—a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute’, a scholarship grantee of the JN Tata Trust and Charles Wallace India Trust, and a 2017 Global Fellow of the International Society for Performing Arts (ISPA), New York. Rashmi also founded Arts Culture Resources India, a network and platform for cultural professionals in India and South Asia.

Ratish Nanda

CEO, Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Ratish heads the multi-disciplinary AKTC teams presently undertaking the two major urban conservation projects in India: the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, Delhi and the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park Conservation in Hyderabad. For AKTC, he was earlier responsible for the Baghe Babur restoration (2002-2006), in Kabul, Afghanistan and the garden restoration of Humayun’s Tomb (1999-2003).

Sanjoy K. Roy

Sanjoy K. Roy

Managing Director, Teamwork Arts

Sanjoy, an entrepreneur of the arts, is the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 25 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals across 40 cities in countries such as Australia, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA, including the world’s largest free literary gathering — the annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Roy works closely with various industry bodies on important policy issues within the cultural space in India and is a senior office bearer on several committees working on policy infrastructure for the creative industries. He is Co-chair of the Art and Culture Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and President of Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA).

Rishi Kumar Vashist

Director, Centre for Cultural Resources and Training

Rishi’s passion for theatre brought him to the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. For the past 30 years, he has headed almost all the departments in CCRT through which he has brought several changes in the various schemes implemented by CCRT, particularly the Scholarship and Fellowship Schemes to bring transparency and to promote creativity in the field. Vashist is known for “taking culture from Classes to Masses” through his initiatives, such as: Digital Bharat-Digital Sanskriti, Khilta Bachpan-Khilta Bharat, Ganrajya Nirmaan-Samvedhanik Bharat, CCRT Art Gallery and Kala Utsav.

Smita Vanniyar

Second Lead, Digital Projects, Point of View

Smita is a queer feminist based in Bombay, currently working at a non profit, Point of View. Their areas of interest include gender, queer studies, internet, technology, popular culture, films and TV shows, fandoms etc. Smita holds a Masters degree in Media and Cultural Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay. She can be generally found wandering the cyberspace, or hunting for good coffee.


Vikramjit Roy

Head, Film Facilitation Office, National Film Development Corp.

Vikramjit has a vast experience working in the media entertainment industry for over 20 years. In 2010, he joined NFDC thus dedicating a few years of his life to the Government and the Industry that nurtured him. As the General Manager, he executive-produced several feature films across 11 Indian languages including The Good Road, Qissa and The Lunchbox among others. Since 2016, Vikramjit joined as Head of the Film Facilitation Office (FFO), India’s version of the Film Commission, set up by the Ministry of I&B in NFDC, for creating a film-friendly eco-system in India. With many unique initiatives undertaken, the FFO has delivered on its promise of establishing a comprehensive platform that informs and enriches the cinematic imagination of the country.