November 1, 2023 – 5X Festival proudly introduces Harpo Mander as the new Executive Director of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society (VIBC). Mander, currently the General Manager at 5X Fest, steps into this role, succeeding Tarun Nayar, a prominent figure in the Canadian music scene. This transition reflects Canada’s evolving music and art landscape and the organization’s commitment to youth leadership.
Nayar was one of the creators of the 5X brand in 2018, growing the festival to the largest South Asian youth event in Canada, and spearheaded several music-industry tech initiatives. While Nayar recognizes the importance of passing the baton to dedicated young voices in the community, he will continue working with 5X on the development of their live streaming platform Incrowd, with their partners at Invoke.
During her three-year tenure as General Manager, Mander oversaw the festival’s growth and artist programs, fostering new relationships and energy within the organization. This includes creating opportunities for artist showcases and events, exemplified by the acclaimed 2022 and 2023 Artist in Residence programs. The shift to youth leadership is notable, with Mander, at 27, becoming one of the nation’s youngest Executive Directors of a music festival. She’ll lead a team of young talents, including Bhavneet Toor, Marketing Director ; Sahil Mroke, Art Director ; Dhruv SK, Artist Relations , and Gabriella Presgrave, Socials Coordinator , all champions of gender equity.
As Mander assumes her new role, she has ambitious goals for the organization. Her focus is on actively contributing to the global prominence of Punjabi music and its cultural influence. Being young, South Asian, and from Surrey, she is determined to change the narrative and increase diversity in arts and culture administration. She envisions her role as an opportunity to showcase the region’s beauty, creativity, and talent, while challenging stereotypical portrayals. Mander emphasizes the importance of celebrating the world-class festival and the presence of top Panjabi stars in the area.
“I want to put Metro Vancouver on the map. We have a world-class festival here and the biggest Panjabi stars in the world come here to work, play and immerse themselves in this community. We should be celebrating that!” Mander effused.
As a charity serving young, hybrid South Asians, 5X Fest is a thought leader for this community. Their vision is to create a world where these identities not only belong but thrive. Mander acknowledges the importance of carving out space for herself and others like her to achieve this vision. This effort is bearing fruit, with over 80% of 5X’s sphere of influence consisting of 18-34-year-old hybrid South Asians—a growing and influential demographic.
Mander expressed that “Organizations like 5X are the beating hearts of the community. We act as cultural producers by creating community and curating safe spaces for people to explore their identities.”
5X Fest remains dedicated to empowering young, hybrid South Asians and shaping the cultural landscape. As Mander embarks on this journey, she’ll leverage her music industry experience and the new connections this goal brings to create new opportunities for her community.
Stay updated and congratulate Harpo Mander by visiting her on LinkedIn or following @5XFest on social media. Learn more about the organizations and their year round activities by signing up for the 5X Newsletter or exploring www.5Xfest.com.