Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures was the very first Lotus venue: On a cool October afternoon in 1994, the festival began on the museum’s front porch, with a set of folk music by Andrew Lazaro, a Puerto Rican doctoral student at the IU School of Music. Afterward, there was a small parade to the new Waldron Arts Center downtown, symbolically linking campus and community, IU and Lotus.
The town/gown partnership that marked Lotus’s first year has held fast for two decades.
It’s visible in university support for Lotus programming on campus and in the community, in opportunities for students to meet performing artists from around the world, and in Lotus Blossoms Educational Outreach into community schools.
To celebrate 20 years of synergy, the university’s School of Global and International Studies is teaming up with Lotus to present the free Lotus Campus Kick-off in Alumni Hall on Thursday, September 26, featuring Chicago’s Funkadesi, Montreal’s Nomadic Massive (pictured below), and Bloomington’s own Pan-Basso. Everyone’s welcome.
“IU is a global campus,” says IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel. “Lotus brings world music to Bloomington. We are wonderfully aligned in our passion for global interconnectivity and cultural exchange. The Lotus Campus Kickoff celebrates the many ways in which Bloomington is a truly global community. We are delighted that our free concert in Alumni Hall will bring the incredible Lotus atmosphere to campus. It will also be an opportunity to showcase our vast array of academic opportunities for students to engage with the world.”
The university’s School of Global and International Studies’ collaboration with Lotus underscores IU faculty and students’ great depth and breadth of interest in world cultures. This year, sarod master Amjad Ali Khan will be the first SGIS Artist in Residence, offering a week-long class on Indian classical music and culture.
The class will culminate in a public demonstration on September 25 at 5:30 p.m. in Auer Hall, to which all are welcome. Khan’s son Ayaan Ali Khan will join him to introduce the audience to time-honored traditional methods of sarod artistry.
Says Maria Bucur-Deckard, associate dean for international programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, “This year continues a tradition of area studies units helping to bring in Lotus artists from their respective regions. We are delighted to bring Lotus on campus through this and other events and provide unprecedented access to these remarkable cultural ambassadors.”
The excitement of the festival echoes through the year in Lotus Blossoms, an outreach program that takes engagement with world cultures directly to elementary students in the Bloomington area. IU students and faculty – most from the campus’s International Outreach Centers – have been important cultural ambassadors to thousands of kids whose experience of Lotus starts with the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar, a free multicultural marketplace of new experiences. The first Bazaar was held in 1996; today, it’s hosted by Binford Elementary School each spring, for two days of free activities.
“We wouldn’t be able to have our Blossoms Bazaar without IU’s outreach centers,” says Lotus Executive Director Lee Williams. “That a 4th-grader can travel the world without leaving home — building a yurt, talking to grad students from Uzbekistan, playing Chinese games, doing Adinkra printing with the Mathers Museum — that makes this experience unique. It’s global outreach in the best sense, touching young people from all parts of our community.”
Top photo: Matthew Sieber, Mathers Museum of World Cultures; 1994 Lotus World Music and Arts Festival