Art and Identity: Navigating the Spaces In Between Panel Discussion

Art and Identity: Navigating the Spaces In Between

Presented by Asian Columbia Alumni Association and CAA Arts Access



Isheeta Ganguly

Isheeta is an acclaimed fusion singer and playwright/director who's in the process of directing her first film. Her three musical theatre productions (Three WomenSundays with Chitra & Chaitali, and Shakuntala Awaits) have garnered international recognition for seamlessly blending together contemporary feminism, history, mythology, and pop culture with 19th century classic heroines from Bengal in a modern day, dram-com format. Her productions have been featured at prestigious venues in North America, India, and Southeast Asia with Shakuntala Awaits having had an Off-Broadway run with the HERE Theatre in NYC.

With her BA in bio-medical ethics from Brown University and her Masters in Public Health from Columbia, Isheeta is also a Bellagio Fellow from the Rockefeller Foundation. Prior to making her full-time transition into the performing arts, Isheeta helmed several leadership roles in both the U.S. and India as a management consultant and as the Country Director for Sesame Street India.

Isheeta currently lives in Mumbai with her husband and two sons.



Faraan Irfan

Faraan Irfan is the founder & CEO of Saarey Music, where he is building the digital ecosystem for the underserved 125 million who love South Asian classical music but do not have easy access to it. The audio streaming service is the first part of this ecosystem. Soon users will be able to give appreciation payments to artists from anywhere in the world from inside the app, mirroring what happens in the physical world.

Faraan has 17 years of experience in the genre and continues his family's 64-year legacy in this space. He is a Global MBA with Honours from Columbia Business School, London Business School, and Hong Kong University Business School, where the idea of Saarey Music was born. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Computer Sciences from LUMS Lahore and his A-levels from Aitchison College, where he was Headboy.

Faraan is a keen sportsman. He broke 20 of 27 records in swimming at Aitchison, was Best Swimmer Pakistan, and ranked #42 in backstroke among the world's universities during the World Universiade held in Daegu, South Korea. He ranked #7 at the Volvo World Golf Championship in Shanghai, China. Recently he has taken up road cycling has holds 118 KOMs in Strava.

Most importantly, Faraan is an advisor, butler, driver and caddy to his 8-year-old son.



Tim McHenry

Since the Rubin Museum of Art’s inception in New York City over twenty years ago author, curator, and programmer Tim McHenry has been providing visitors with what The Huffington Post has called “some of the most original and inspired programs on the arts and consciousness in New York City.” Responsible for initiating many ground-breaking museum experiences, it is the Mandala Lab installation that best represents his beliefs in integrating science, Buddhist wisdom traditions, and artistic innovation to emphasize empathetic experiential engagement as a means of heightening self-awareness, well-being, and societal compassion.


Aroon Shivdasani

With a Masters Degree in Literature & Drama, Aroon Shivdasani is the Founder & retired Executive & Artistic Director of the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC). Aroon pioneered a passionate movement to showcase, promote, give visibility, and build an awareness of performing, visual, literary, folk arts, and artists from the Indian sub-continent as well as the diaspora, while simultaneously working to support important social and humanitarian causes in India and the US. She founded the first Indian film festival (NYIFF), the first Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance (EB Dance), the first Diaspora Playwrights Festival, the first Indian Literary Festival (IAAC Lit Fest), and the first traveling Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora (EBArt) in the United States. She has also raised money, through the arts, for the victims of the Latur earthquake, the Bhuj earthquake & the Tsunami in India, ensuring the money went to the victims by personally visiting the sites and vetting the humanitarian workers on the ground there. She organized a play-reading & discussion to encourage dialogue immediately after the Godra Hindu-Muslim riots.

Among her numerous awards, in January 2015 Aroon was named one of the "Top 20 Global Indian Women" by The Economic Times, India. In March 2018 she was honored by the Society of Foreign Consuls, New York, for her "outstanding achievements and contribution to community empowerment." In July 2018 she received a Recognition Award honoring her for being "a pioneer of Indian arts & aesthetics in North America” by the Consul General of India, New York. In 2019 The Heritage Center presented her with an award for "being a pioneer in bringing Indian arts and culture to America." In 2020 Dr.Bilha Fish recognized her as one of 21 Inspiring American Immigrants in her book Invincible Women; on June 4th, 2023 Aroon recieved the Minni Untermeyer Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Aroon lives in New York with her husband Indur, daughters Sacha and Misha, and 4 beautiful grandchildren.


October 18, 2023 at 7:00pm - 9pm

Pulitzer Hall Lecture Hall

2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Please RSVP via Blackthorn (link below)