BAC has been providing community arts grants to Brooklyn’s artists, cultural ambassadors, arts organizations, and communities for almost 40 years, putting city and state cultural dollars directly into the hands of the artists and organizations. In our Grantee Spotlight series, we’re highlighting some of those artists and organizations who contribute so much to the cultural vitality of Brooklyn.
Organization: Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM)
Brooklyn Raga Massive is a collective of musicians and ensembles interested in exploring Indian and South Asian music while cultivating communities and sounds specific to Brooklyn. BRM puts on weekly jam sessions, concerts, and this week, a 24-hour festival featuring over 60 musicians. Catch the Ragas Live Festival this weekend at Pioneer Works!
What sector of the arts do you dedicate yourself to and why?
We are mainly a musician’s collective focusing on Raga-based traditional and contemporary music. However, we do have multidisciplinary projects now, such as creating more music videos and video documentation, and projects that mix dance (Ragas in Motion) and video (BRM performs a live score to the movie Fantastic Planet).
We are specifically drawn to creating a supportive platform for Raga-based musicians because there is a hub of musicians in Brooklyn and the New York area who are interested in Indian music and who are serious practitioners. The audience is also growing for the particular flavor of music BRM is creating as a melting pot indigenous to Brooklyn.
What has your BAC grant helped you accomplish?
BAC has helped us with funding to keep our Weekly Raga Concert and Jam Session Series going for the last 3 years. It has allowed us to pay performing musicians a fair wage and provide support staff for this now iconic, ongoing Brooklyn event.
How have you grown since your first BAC grant? In what ways is BRM a different organization now?
The Brooklyn Arts Fund was the first grant we ever wrote and received. The process helped us get used to grant writing and forced us to get more organized with our finances and messaging. Now we have been able to grow into applying for more grants, funding sources, and are internally more organized for our future.
What’s been your biggest challenge as an organization?
The biggest challenge has been trying to balance being an artist-run organization, that has to balance the administrative and organizational needs of BRM collective and having time to actually make more music. As we grow, we are aiming to have the operations carried out by more administrative professionals, so we can have our artists focus more on the art itself.
Which Brooklyn artists and organizations inspire you?
BRM is greatly inspired by the many Brooklyn musicians that have participated in our performances, such as Neel Murgai, Sameer Gupta, Arun Ramamurthy, Jay Gandhi, Trina Basu, Priya Darshini, Max ZT, Samarth Nagarkar, Anjana Swaminathan, Camila Celin, Ehren Hanson, David Ellenbogen, and many more.
Which upcoming Brooklyn arts happenings are you excited about?
We are excited about the upcoming 6th Ragas Live Music Festival on October 6th and 7th at Pioneer Works. This is a 24-hour music festival featuring both traditional Raga music performances and contemporary Raga influenced works. There will be over 60 individual artists participating, including Vijay Iyer, V. Salvaganesh, and more.