Heena is a brown woman with jaw-length wavy black hair. She wears a whtie tank top in front of a colorful mural.

Heena Patel

National Dance Project Advisor
Cultural Strategist, Creative Producer, CEO
MELA Arts Connect
Land of the Tsalaguwetiyi and S’atsoyaha (Asheville, NC)


Heena Patel is a multi-hyphenate arts worker, coach for creatives, speaker, connector, and gathering designer. As a child of Indian immigrants in Canada who grew up immersed in South Asian culture within her community, but didn't see it reflected in the mainstream, her professional career has focused on amplifying South Asian arts and culture in the dominant performing arts sector. The founder and CEO of MELA Arts Connect, her mission is to nurture the ecosystem around South Asian performing arts and community in thoughtful and context driven ways. Over the years and through MELA, Heena has done this as a producer, agent-manager, mentor, artist, consultant, curator, producer, and diversity and equity advocate. 

Recent credits as a producer and artistic director include the immersive folk dance experience Garba360, multidisciplinary stage shows Bollywood Boulevard and My Bollywood Jukebox, and desi:NOW - a showcase of hyphenated South Asian identities. She’s facilitated the commissioning and touring of countless South Asian productions and artists from the diaspora and Indian subcontinent across a multitude of genres, and as a cultural strategist and consultant, she supports organizations in developing long-term strategies for community building with the South Asian diaspora. Her goal as a coach, mentor, and speaker are to empower creatives, particularly those of the Global Majority, with the tools and understanding to build sustainable careers for themselves.  

She currently serves as Vice-President of NAPAMA (North American Performing Arts Agents and Manager), was an APAP and ISPA Fellow, and has served on numerous committees for Western Arts Alliance, Arts Midwest, and South Arts; as well as being a panelist/jury member for several granting organizations across the US. 

Photo by Ekta Kumbhani

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