The Lord mayor of Leeds Council council, councillor Asghar Khan has conferred Leeds Civic Award to the director and co-founder of Saudha society of poetry and Indian music and RadhaRaman Folk Festival poet Ahmed Kaysher last Saturday (7 May) at the Ark Royal Room of the Leeds Civic Hall. Member of parliament for Leeds North East and the shadow minister for peace and disarmament Fabian Hamilton attended as the guest speaker, along with a few community leaders and performing artists, in this brief civic reception arranged by the Lord Mayor office of Leeds city council.
The Lord Mayor Asghar Khan said, “Ahmed Kaysher is a true ambassador of both South Asian Arts and Leeds city to the other parts of the world. He is a remarkable poet, writer, opera director and the founder of two top platforms of global arts, music and literature in this country – Saudha and RadhaRaman. Leeds is proud to have him as its resident and to be the first place of his tireless art activities. I feel honoured to be able to support his vision as a councillor. It’s a great privilege to confer this civic reception honouring Kaysher’s work, the man who motivates and promotes others from the back-stage”.
Fabian Hamilton MP said, “I met Kaysher through the very first programme of Saudha at Leeds carriage works theatre. I didn’t have any idea – what to expect when we joined the concert. But on our way back home, my wife Rosy, John Battle (the former member of parliament from Leeds) and I were transported to another world by the magic created on the stage.
Fabian Hamilton continued, “Since then, I also had the privilege of sponsoring a few of Saudha’s events at the Atlee room of the PortCullis House of our parliament and I was amazed to see the connections of such a great mix of audiences and artists from different cultural traditions as well as the quality of productions he has been presenting for all these years. I think his great strength is fusion – the fusion between South Asian and other European arts as well as the unification of the people of different faiths and cultures. That’s exactly what we witnessed in his theatre production at Seven Arts Centre – T.S.Eliot was merged with Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. He is truly an internationalist and that’s what I love about him.
Erik Schelander, an actor, singer and spoken-word artist said, It’s quite easy to carry on shaping all exciting ideas when you get a mainstream art grant. But because I have been part of Kaysher’s vision and art-activities for more than the last 10 years, I see how he is fighting just with the strength of his ideas without any support from mainstream funding.
Dr Matt Pitchard, the lecturer of musical aesthetics at Leeds University said, I had the privilege of joining a couple of events by Saudha and RadhaRaman Society. I loved his idea of bringing different art forms from different heritages together.
Dr Amal Paul said “he is bringing a huge pride to South Asian communities in the UK by presenting such high-quality events one after another that appeal to international audiences. I will remember his tireless contribution during the pandemic through a series of programming every week which, I believe, was absolutely beneficial for the audiences and artists from all over the world. I feel proud to take a role at that time as part of those programmes.
The lord mayor councillor Asghar Khan and Fabian Hamilton MP have handed over a crest of honour with the logo of Leeds City council and a certificate of recognition to Mr Kaysher after the speeches.
Ahmed kaysher, in his brief reaction, said, ” I am a self-motivated art-activists, so perhaps the award or reception has very little influence on the way I work but it was so wonderful to see that some third eyes observe my works and my vision with so much attention and I am, therefore, so touched and overwhelmed by this reception. I am absolutely grateful to the lord mayor of Leeds for this who is also a tremendous supporter of the art-initiatives we do. These inspiring kind words from each of you meant a lot and please continue your support as you have been doing for many years now – so that we can contribute to build a better world through arts. I was a firm supporter of “arts for arts’ sake” and then I saw so much social changes had been also carried out secretly through even with ruthless and uncompromising presentation of arts.”
A spoken-word artist Dr Kaniz Fatema Chowdhury, the former chairman of Leeds Bangladeshi Centre Mohammad Afzal Hussain, engineer Khaled Abdullah, the principal lawyer of S & K solicitors Saikat Acharjee, the founding member of RadhaRaman Society Amar Baidya, Asok Ghosh and a Persian singer Jamshead Folad also shared brief words on Kaysher’s work in the reception.