Promoting art among the young
Chitra Visweswaran interacting with students before the show at the Satchidananda Jothi Niketan, Mettupalayam.
WELL-KNOWN among educational institutions across India, SPICMACAY Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth is a non-profit NGO dedicated to propagating Indian culture among the student community. The voluntary organisation is now celebrating its silver jubilee.
Established in 1977, by Prof. Kiran Seth, who returned from the U.S. with a mission, the organisation has grown to around 200 chapters, of which 150 are in India. About 1,200 events are organised annually throughout India, covering almost every State, including the Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Art is taken from the purview of the cultural elite to the campus auditoriums where informal interactions result in better appreciation.
The programmes are held only in educational institutions with the focus now on Government institutions and corporation schools, but they are open to outsiders too.
Funding for the Indian chapters is through grants from the Government of India together with the Turner Morrison Foundation and the ONGC, besides private contributions and sponsorships.
The organisation has certain stipulations about its funding banners are not allowed inside the auditoriums and funding from tobacco or liquor companies is not accepted.
Flautist N. Ramani ... it is signing time as music enthusiasts surround him for autographs.
The annual calendar is well structured; the Lecture Demonstration Series between July and November is handled by senior artistes and in the Festival Series between January and March younger artistes are also featured. "Virasat" that covers other art forms such as folk music and dance, craft, theatre, art movies and yoga and "Gurukul" or scholarship schemes where students are sponsored to stay for one month with eminent people, including artistes, activists and religious heads, take place through the year.
Besides the cultural aspect, SPICMACAY is also a prime advocate of voluntary service.
Being a participatory student movement, 80 per cent of the volunteers are students, with those like Muralidharan and Sandhya from Chennai, staying committed long after.
It is a good training ground for students to learn responsibility and leadership qualities, claim the organisers.
The enthusiasm of the volunteers is tangible. And nothing can deter their single-mindedness.
For the just concluded Festival Series, an artiste and her accompanists were taken to Bhavan's Gandhi Vidyashram, a school for farm workers' children, an hour's drive from Kodaikanal.
There are only 25 students in the school, but the response of the children, says a volunteer, made it all worthwhile.
Despite their best efforts, the path is often thorny for the organisers. "Do you know that some educational institutions turn us down? They say they do not have time for entertainment!" says Muralidharan with disbelief.
Another major complaint is the inadequate corporate sponsorship. Respect for art and artistes forms part of the ideology of the organisation.
All for action ... Priti Patel at the Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore.
The artistes are well looked after and are accompanied by a volunteer for every programme. Every year different art forms and artistes are chosen.
The artistes for the just concluded Concert Series in Tamil Nadu were: Priti Patel, Manipuri, T. N. Krishnan (violin), Chitra Visweswaran (Bharatanatyam), N. Ramani (flute), Pt. Shivkumar Sharma (santoor) and Priyadarshini Govind (Bharatanatyam).
To commemorate their anniversary, an ambitious "World Virasat" is being planned where troupes from all over the world will be invited.
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