SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) is the only non-profit, artist-run centre in Canada dedicated to the development and presentation of contemporary visual art by South Asian artists. Our mission is to produce innovative programs that critically explore issues and ideas shaping South Asian identities and experiences. We encourage work that is challenging, experimental and engaged in critical discussions on visual forms and processes, and which offer new perspectives on the contemporary world.
SAVAC develops and produces exhibitions, and a range of contemporary visual art interventions and programs. SAVAC works without a gallery space, and typically in collaboration with other artist-run centres, public galleries and visual arts organizations. This collaborative process of working allows us to foster important ties with the mainstream art community, encouraging an exchange of ideas and perspectives, and increasing our organizational reach and visibility.
SAVAC’s programming is national in scope, but we are actively engaged with regional and international discussions informing the development of contemporary South Asian art. SAVAC plays a vital role in the visual arts sector in Canada by advocating for South Asian artists and culturally diverse issues and practices.
History of SAVAC
In 1993 a progressive group of artists came together to program exhibitions of contemporary visual art for Desh Pardesh, an annual multi-disciplinary arts festival in Toronto. Four years later SAVAC was formally established as an artist-run centre, producing exhibitions and contemporary art projects in collaboration with other artist-run centres.
In 2001 SAVAC was incorporated as a non-profit arts organization with Rachel Kalpana James as the Founding Director. Haema Sivanesan led the organisation as the Executive Director from 2006 - 2011. Ambereen Siddiqui was appointed Executive Director in early 2012.
Srimoyee Mitra served as the Programming Co-ordinator from 2007- 2011. Sharlene Bamboat is the current Programming Coordinator.
In 2008 SAVAC changed its name from "South Asian Visual Arts Collective" to "South Asian Visual Arts Centre." The new name is a more accurate reflection of SAVAC's structure as an artist-run centre, which has a membership, is board mandated and receives operational funding.
SAVAC was registered as a Charitable Organization in 2009.
Sharon Fernandez, "More than Just an Arts Festival: Communities, Resistance, and the Story of Desh Pardesh," Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 31, No 1 (2006)
Rachel Kalpana James, "From Foreign Shores," Art India, Volume IX, Issue I. (2004)