Made in Britain: Manasamitra

Manasamitra Group

Manasamitra is a South Asian arts organisation delivering cultural experiences in traditional and innovative ways.

Established in 2005 and based in the heart of Yorkshire, the group – led by artist director and founder Supriya Nagarajan – immerses audiences in performances that are stimulated by ideas, forms and aesthetics from India located within a contemporary British context.

Here, Supriya tells Business Matters about her greatest achievements and just how she set-up Manasamitra – a group which has performed on domestic and global stages.

What does you company do? What products services does it provide?

I founded a group called Manasamitra – a South Asian arts organisation based in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. We provide a cross-disciplinary, cross-channel musical experience for audiences and create performances for domestic and international communities.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

It came from my passion for music and what I like to do best. I set-up Manasamitra and wanted to dedicate the time to creating new music and giving audiences something different to enjoy – something that they might not have heard before.

When did you start up, and what support were you given?

I started in 2005 and have been supported by various funders along the way including the Arts Council and Kirklees Council as well as trusts, foundations and Yorkshire-based venues and organisations such as York Minster. Yorkshire gave Manasamitra the real big break to work and curate compositions to showcase what we were all about. From there, it has given us an entry into the world of creativity.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

My original composition at ‘hcmf//’ (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) and Manasamitra’s ‘Lullaby Sonic Cradle’ project – particularly performing the latter alongside the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Lullaby has been a heart-warming project and the performance in Iceland was the crowning achievement.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling of being one of the few female Asian composers. Being there, putting my stamp on things and making ground within this industry continues to be an on-going challenge – but one that I’m meeting head-on every single day.

How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?

Through my work. I let my work speak for itself. My approach, collaborations and out-the-box ideas, as well as the work, all define me and differentiate the group from any competition.

What has been the best decision you have made to date?

Pursuing music as a career, without a doubt. It’s freed my mind up and that’s the best thing that has ever happened to me as an individual.

Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?

In a successful space with new national and international opportunities.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Carefully walk the line between a personal and practical approach.

What do you find most satisfying about running a business?

I enjoy the autonomy of making decisions. I enjoy the capacity of being flexible or changing the direction or methodology at short notice. I also enjoy collaborating with people I want to and having the responsibility of knowing that the buck stops with me.

I know that if I have done something wrong, I know I could have done better, and if I’ve done something well, I’m aware of that too. So, it works both ways.