HISTORY OF THE FOUNDATION
The Sikh Organization of New York (SONY) was formed in 2001 to represent Sikh social and political interests in the greater New York area. In 2004, SONY, in collaboration with the International Punjabi Society and Hofstra University hosted its First Annual Sikh Festival at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY. The films focused on Sikh issues and culture and provided a forum for independent directors and artists to screen and discuss their work. The Festival was sponsored by the Atlantic Bank of New York, Bhai Records, American Media and private contributions.
The Second Annual Sikh Festival was held in 2005 in collaboration with International Punjabi Society, Hofstra University and the Sikh Coalition. Corporate sponsors included Air India, Atlantic Bank of New York, CIT, Citibank, Marriott and New York Life.
The high level of interest and attendance at these two film festivals gave birth to the idea of a cultural organization to create awareness of and pride in the diversity, culture and history of the Sikhs, as well as the contribution of Sikhs in American society. Thus, the Sikh Art & Film Foundation was formed in 2006, with its two-fold mission:
- To promote awareness, appreciation of, and pride in the diversity of the Sikh people.
- To strengthen Sikh identity through increasing knowledge of Sikh history and culture.
In cooperation with the Rubin Museum of Art in New York and the Sikh Foundation in California, the Sikh Art & Film Foundation hosted the first Sikh Art Exhibition in the tri-state area. The exhibition "I See No Stranger" was held from September 16, 2006 to January 29, 2007, bringing together works of art that identify core Sikh beliefs and explores the plurality of Sikh cultural traditions.
In conjunction with the Exhibition, the Third Annual Sikh Film Festival, "A Celebration of Sikh Films" was held at the Rubin Museum of Art from September 17 to October 1, 2006. Also scheduled during this period were talks by prominent experts on Sikh philosophy, history and art, children's workshops, as well as folk dance and music of Punjab. The exhibition and the festival were made possible with the generous support of individual and corporate sponsors.
With continued growth, in 2007, the Sikh Art & Film Foundation instituted the Annual Sikh Heritage Awards Gala in addition to the Annual Sikh Film Festival. Details of these events can be found under the Awards Gala and Film Festival sections of the site.