Singh Cultural Arts Fund brings world’s artists to Birmingham through UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, its sister organizations

See the band Red Baraat kick off the UAB Arts Alliance’s 2023-2024 programming year with a free, high-energy performance on Friday, Aug. 25, thanks to support from Dora and Sanjay Singh.

Sanjay and Dora 1Dora and Sanjay SinghThanks to Dora and Sanjay Singh, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center will continue bringing global artistry and performances to the community.

The Dora and Sanjay Singh Cultural Arts Fund supports global programming and educational outreach by the UAB Arts Alliance, usually offered free or at a low cost to ensure the community has access. In addition to the Alys Stephens Center, the UAB Arts Alliance includes the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, UAB Arts in Medicine and ArtPlay Community Education.  

Through the fund, high-energy, Brooklyn-based Bhangra-fusion band Red Baraat will kick off the 2023-24 programming year for the UAB Arts Alliance. The free performance and Arts Block Party on UAB’s campus is set for Friday, Aug. 25. Learn more at

The Singhs hail from different countries: Sanjay Singh, Ph.D., from India, and Dora Singh from El Salvador. They met in college and then came to Birmingham in 1993. UAB has been great to them, he says, and they have been involved with the Alys Stephens Center since its founding in 1996 and subsequently with its sister organizations.

People from more than 120 different countries live in Birmingham and work at UAB, he says. Singh says he learned you need a willing partner to effect change. There are many institutions, but the UAB Arts Alliance is one that is open to change.

“Over the last 20 years, UAB is one of the very few institutions that has been willing to look like the rest of the world,” Singh said. “And plus, UAB is what moves the needle. By working with the UAB Arts Alliance, we can impact so many changes in Birmingham and Alabama. And plus, we love UAB, we worked at UAB, our children are going to UAB. So, you have all these reasons: personal, professional, willingness to listen, change and participate, with a great built-in audience.”

Nothing is more important than understanding different cultures, religions and people, Singh says; and performing arts “is what opens your eyes.” 

“No matter what you do, whether you are a professor or a businessperson, you have to have global thinking,” Singh said. “Without global thinking, you will never go to the next level. As Dr. Watts said, ‘Sanjay, many of our students will not be able to go to the other parts of the world. How about we bring the world to them?’” 


Through their giving at UAB, Singh said, they will continue to focus on educational opportunities — “for this is the direct path to economic prosperity” — and cultural acceptance — “the primary determinant for recruiting and retaining global talent.”

 Arts Block Party with Red Baraat, Friday, Aug. 25

Red Baraat Stream TKFriday, Aug. 25, join UAB for a free Arts Block Party between 1200 and 1221 10th Ave. South. The Arts Block Party will kick off the 2023-2024 programming year for the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, the Alys Stephens Center, UAB Arts in Medicine and ArtPlay Community Education.

Visit AEIVA’s galleries starting at 5 p.m., and check out vendors, activities, food trucks, cash bar and more outside the Alys Stephens Center. At 6 p.m., enjoy artist talks inside AEIVA and a DJ on the Engel Plaza outside the Alys Stephens Center. Red Baraat’s live performance will start at 7 p.m. All events at the Arts Block Party are free and open to the public.

It will be a moveable feast of culture and arts for UAB and the city of Birmingham, says UAB Arts Alliance Executive Director Lili Anderson.

singh family sanjay indira dora vivek dialThe Singh family, from left to right: Sanjay Singh, Ph.D., daughter Indira, Dora Singh and son Vivek at the opening reception of AEIVA's 2022 Thornton Dial exhibition.“The Singhs’ fund makes this possible,” Anderson said. “We receive a generous gift from the fund annually that supports global artists and specific student worker initiatives, but the main focus is global programming.”

Through the UAB Arts Alliance Student Work-Study Program, students provide a variety of meaningful services, such as ushering at performances, assisting with exhibitions, working at ArtPlay and more. The Singhs provide 20 students — who are important parts of the team and integral in successful seasons at the Alys Stephens Center and AEIVA — with uniforms as well as customer service training and professional development opportunities.

“We are honored and grateful to have the Singhs’ partnership in our vision for UAB and the community we serve,” said Vice President for Advancement and Strategic Initiatives Tom Brannan. “Their steadfast support enables our students, faculty, staff and patients to thrive in the face of historic challenges. On behalf of everyone whose life is touched by their support, we thank them for all they do to help UAB reach its potential every day.”