Creative Connections between Barrow-in-Furness, UK, and the City of Joy (Kolkata), India

This February a group of 18 people including artists and creatives of many disciplines visit Kolkata from Barrow-in-Furness in the North-West of England.
After securing funding from the British Council, BarrowFull and Song of Soul’s cultural exchange project, “A New Jute Route” began in 2022; an artist-sharing cross-continental partnership grew between India and the UK.
This visit is the next step in this British Council-backed initiative, where Barrovian artists, as well as community leaders including Women’s Community Matters and DropZone, visit Kolkata between 10 and 20 February 2023 to share practice, collaborate and discover new ways of working from one another.
Workshops will be led in the ‘City of Joy’ by Barrow-based Lego animation-creator Tori Davis, who will be using toy bricks donated by the LEGO foundation in Denmark to work with Future Hope school. Other artists leading workshops include: BarrowFull’s artist for change Danielle Chappell-Aspinwall; Kate Davis, an awardwining poet who lives on Walney Island; Barrovian actor Sally-Ann Staunton, who has performed in plays across the UK; John Rennie a Barrovian filmmaker and creative; and BarrowFull’s Creative Director, Dr Daniel Tyler-McTighe, will collaborate with Mr Kaushik Dutta to lead experiments with theatrical scenes that mix music with spoken Bengali, Hindi and ‘Barrovian English’.
Associate company Open Theatre will run workshops for several important organisations in the city who look after and teach young people with learning disabilities and Autism and their teachers and make connections between them and the students and staff at Barrow’s special school, George Hastwell.
Swerve and JD will continue in the recording studio working with more traditional Indian musicians and representatives of Barrow’s charities and youth provision will visit women’s and children’s charities, a school for slum and street children and more.
Previously, in July 2022, BarrowFull, welcomed 8 Indian artists along with Kaushik Dutta, Sarmistha Sarker (Painter), Angana Mukherjee (Dancer), Shinjini Paul (Cinematographer), Srabasti (Movement therapist) and four musicians, to the town who explored Barrow’s historic links to Kolkata and the Jute trade through creative activities, engaging with 1000s of local people and children. Working with local companies Horizon Studios, Furness Multicultural Community Forum, Drop Zone Youth, Thought for Time and Chinwaggers at Women’s Community Matters, The Forum, Coast Roads Festival, Barrow Deaf Centre and Ormsgill Stronger Together as well as Birmingham-based theatre outreach practitioners Open Theatre at George Hastwell school, Kaushik Dutta, Director of Song of Soul and SOS Productions, said, “I think it’s of great importance to be exchanging views and ideas from both countries. It’s not only about the music and the arts, it’s about our different cultures as a whole.”
As part of the exchange, Indian musicians worked with Barrovian musicians and rapper Swerve and JD (Josh Duncan and Josh Spedding) of Horizon Studios, the award-winning music production and education company based in Barrow to create new soundscapes blending Indian traditional folk music and sound with contemporary rap.
If you would like more information about any of the projects above, please follow our socials and website If you are or represent any local people/ groups who might want to get involved, please email [email protected].

Editor’s Notes
For more information or interviews please contact Marketing and Communications Manager Helen Bartosinski [email protected]
BarrowFull is one of 39 Creative People and Places (CPP) organisations awarded funding by Arts Council England with the aim of increasing participation in the arts, particularly amongst those least engaged.
BarrowFull has been developed and is led by a consortium of Barrow-based organisations who will provide strategic oversight with Women’s Community Matters as Lead Partner and accountable body. The Consortium is made up of Brathay Trust,
Barrow Borough Council, Cumbria County Council Libraries and Archives and Barrow Arts Group, comprising of Art Gene, Theatre Factory, Full of Noises and Signal Film & Media.
BarrowFull’s vision is for everyone in Barrow to have the opportunity to experience and be inspired by arts and culture in their local community.
Song of Soul
Song of Soul was founded about 35 years ago by Kaushik Dutta and a group of youths who took art and culture by heart and promised to promote folk & tribal performing art and artists to alleviate poverty amongst the specified community.
We identify talented, yet unknown artists and performing groups from the rural areas to give them a platform and promote them at the national and international level. Record endangered music and bring royalties from sales back to the musicians’ community. Use funds collected through funding agencies, sponsors, donors and patrons to carry out projects agreed by and of benefit to the community. Encourage self-worth and respect for their culture by showing that it is appreciated in the wider world hence create an interest amongst the younger generation to look at this art form as a profitable and promising venture.
Working towards revival and restoration of ethnic traditional music moving towards extinct. Creating job opportunities for the older artistes unable to perform on physical grounds. Relieving poverty in folk & tribal music communities. Organizing festivals for improving community well-being in both short and long terms. Promoting indigenous arts and cultural vibrancy and excellence. Developing export ready potential and touring ability in order to harness a direct economic outcome for indigenous people. Running Kolkata International Music Festival since 2009.
Initiated projects like ‘In Search of Life’ – an attempt to bring to the urban audience the complete essence of neglected art forms through performance and meaningful dialogue.’ Art in Education’ – an activity to educate and create awareness amongst students on folk art genres including music, dance, instruments and handicrafts. The holistic approach of the project will enable the students to learn about different folk culture and its communities.
Associate partner on this project, SOS Productions is also run by Kaushik and is an international artist management company promoting Indian talents worldwide.
Daniel is a theatre-maker, especially as an adaptor of Shakespeare; producer; and lecturer. He has made professional and community theatre and film for over 20 years and has led projects for the national theatres of Great Britain, Korea and Spain, various international theatre festivals, and Arts Council England-funded theatre productions as well as National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported films. His roles have included: Director of the Multilingual Performance Project (England and Wales) for the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham City, Reading, Pittsburgh and SOAS London; Creative Producer for Open Theatre including a NLHF-funded project with Birmingham Museums Trust, Birmingham Conservation Trust, Culture Coventry and the Black Country Living Museum; Head of Education at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
Daniel’s contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare have been programmed by Shanghai International Festival of Experimental Theatre, Almagro International
Festival of Classical Theatre (twice), Bristol Shakespeare Festival and Madrid Frinje. He has created Shakespeare work for the BBC, RSC, and major UK theatres.
KAUSHIK DUTTA (Producer,India)
Kaushik Dutta’s love for music began at an early age. This passion developed into a professional reputation for playing, scoring, designing and recording music for successful events. He has composed music for Bollywood films, short films, documentaries and international theatre projects. He has toured extensively and performed at over 300 shows abroad. Besides conducting workshops for differently abled children and special needs schools, he has participated in many collaborative projects, seminars and panel discussions including the jazz master class series organised by the National Arts Centre, Ottawa in collaboration with Manhattan School of Music, USA. He was also invited as a visiting tutor to the London Roundhouse, UK and Singapore Music Academy and was invited to Judge the Inter school drama competition organized by British Council and Manchester Metropolitan University.
He has been a speaker and panel member for international music meets like ‘Live Singapore’, IOMMA (Indian Ocean Music Market, Reunion Island) BWME (Borneo World Music Expo,Malaysia), APAMM (Asia Pacific Music Market, Korea), Jazz In Seoul, Mercat Musica Viva Vic (MMVV, Spain), Showcase Scotland (UK), Visa for Music(Morocco),Global Toronto (Canada), WOMEX to name a few. He was an International jury for Jazz In Seoul and a conference speaker at WOMEX 2016,2017,2018.
In the late 80’s he founded Song of Soul and since then have been working extensively with folk and roots musicians around the world. He is also the founder and Artistic Director of the most prominent music festival of India the ‘Kolkata International Music Festival’. Kaushik Dutta worked as a musician for Tim Supple’s British Council supported multilingual production A Midsummer Nights Dream with over 300 shows around the world; was a British Council guest for Showcase Scotland 2014 & 2015, Celtic Connections; workshop trainer for School Drama Programme 2014-15 organised by British Council.
Presently he is the acting President of ‘MusiConnect
Asia’ ( and Vice President of GLOMMNET (

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