Recently SciArtsRUs, nonprofit organization based in California State, USA appointed high profile people from around the globe to collaborate with the organization in an advisory capacity. On the board, Malawi has been incorporated through Executive Secretary of Malawi Human Rights Commission(MHRC), counsel Habiba Osman. Dr. Ranjini Kaushik, founder of SciArtsRUs has also helped many Malawians such as artistes Aqeel Masinja, Chris Kayera, Jaafar Stanela and others. Malawi Voice decided to speak to Dr. Kaushik on some important issues: Excerpts
Madam, may you introduce yourself?
Sure. I am a Biochemist and Molecular Biologist by training and profession. I obtained my Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Biochemistry and obtained my master’s in biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai in India. Based in Los Angeles, after working for over 15 years in the corporate sector in a Biotech Company, I have founded my own Consulting Firm, NuBioVista LLC and a non-profit SciArtsRUs, to globally promote and make accessible arts and sciences and the interface of these disciplines.
Dr Kaushik, what motivated you to start this charitable organization?
Being a scientist of biochemistry at the core, I have always wanted to integrate science and art. Being a bit of a visual artist myself and an art aficionado, I wanted to make arts and science accessible, so we started an initiative Artabilities 4 All in an effort to provide a visual and performing arts platform for disabled artists on the one end and Cross-Culture concerts for bringing artists who practice dance and music of another culture in addition to their own on the other end. Further I wanted to explore programs where science meets arts and other various interfaces between disciplines. By blurring the boundaries between disciplines, abilities and cross-cultural art forms within our verticals we are able to bring programs and artists together that integrate all artists and scientists.
How did you come to know Habiba Osman?
Aqeel Masinja and Mr. Overstone recommended we work with Ms. Osman. We are very lucky to have Ms. Habiba as our focus is on promoting artists with disabilities and also cross-cultural integration. Eagerly look forward to featuring more artists from Malawi.
In short, are you a promoter of diversified culture?
Absolutely. All our initiatives are rooted in DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). Whether it is diverse cultures, abilities, artists or even diverse initiatives we want to shine the light on underrepresented and marginalized artists from around the world.
As an organization that is based in USA far from other countries, how do you identify artists?
We initially identified talents by contacting individuals or through organizations or focus groups. Since the launch we have had artists reach out to us by word of mouth, but we are continuing with collaborations across organizations in different countries.
How has this noble initiative tried to end cultural conflicts?
We have featured over 250 cross-culture artists with and without disabilities across 20 countries. We have helped bring harmony amongst the artists and the audience in the following ways:
1. Encouraging dialogue by bringing artists, organizers, political office holders for various events online
2. Encourage collaboration between the artists
3. Created awareness of musical and dance forms to a newer audience
4. We have featured the cross-cultural artists as ambassadors of cultural integration and goodwill.
5. Engage leaders and advocates from other countries to be on our advisory board and encourage diplomatic dialogue
Challenges of the organisation and how you want to end them?
1. Funding: We would love to obtain international funding for these causes in the form of grants, individual philanthropists and corporate support. Currently we have some individual donors, corporate funds and sponsors and relief grants.
2. Greater Representation of global cross-culture and artists with disabilities and participation from global organizations.
What is your vision and your last words
Our organization is based on the twin pillars of inclusion and diversity. We hope through our initiatives of Artablities 4 All, Cross-Culture concerts, Science meets Art, we can celebrate our differences and blur the boundaries across disciplines, the arts and abilities. We want to bring artists, scientists, and diplomats from across the globe to have dialog and make the arts truly accessible to all.