Metropolis Gurgaon saw the launch of the Aravali Centre for Arts and Culture last week. Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai and her troupe performed Passing Clouds to mark the launch of the centre.
The Aravali Centre has come about as a result of the initiatives of a few corporate executives based in Gurgaon to help find the city ‘‘its soul’’. “Everything is good in Gurgaon. The only thing that is lacking in this city is the absence of a cultural centre. Most of us have been uprooted from principal cities and we are culturally famished,” quips Aniruddha Ganguly, country manager of one of the business lines of engineering major Alstom and secretary of the Aravali centre. The officials behind the centre, however, clarify that they have launched the centre in their own individual capacity.
The Aravali Centre’s initiatives are intended to go well beyond organising cultural programmes by renowned artists. The main aim of the centre is to introduce formal and informal programmes for learning and practising art that can be accomplished through programmes and exhibitions. The centre is also planning to set up its own facilities including a library, auditorium, an art gallery, lecture halls and an exhibition hall for Gurgaon residents.
The activities of the centre would be broadly divided into two categories—exhibitions and education. Exhibitions would include performances by eminent artists in the field of dance, music, theatre, film and fine arts. The educational activities would revolve around formal and informal programmes like courses, workshops and lecture demonstrations.
Mr Ganguly says that the centre will be incorporated as a company under Section 25 of the Companies Act. “It will then have the character of a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation. We want the centre to have the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of a corporate body.”
Membership would be open to residents and even corporate bodies in Gurgaon. There will be various levels of membership as would be defined in the schedule of subscription. The centre plans to generate funds through memberships, grants from corporate bodies, sponsorships and fee.
In The Name Of Legacy
Meanwhile Sanskriti Pratishthan, which runs Sanskriti Kendra, is gearing up for action. The registered public charitable trust is planning to tap corporates for expanding its activities.
Spread over 8 acres and situated in Anandagram on the Gurgaon Mehrauli Road, New Delhi, Sanskriti Kendra houses a museum of Everyday Art and Indian Terracotta, residential studios, a library, an amphitheatre and an art gallery.
Sanskriti Pratishthan was founded in 1979 with a view to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the country. The Kendra is a non-profit organisation, managed by a board of trustees and which was set up at the initiative of O P Jain. Dr L M Singhvi, Dr A M Singhvi and Sudarshan Agarwal are some of the prominent trustees of this organisation. Though the trust was formed in 1979, the construction of the Kendra began only in 1989.
The Museum of Everyday Art established in 1984 contains items of everyday use. There is a huge turban box, ink pots in brass, a silver pen holder, hookahs in various shapes, a wooden coconut cutter and spoon hanger, mirrors and jewel boxes in various shapes.
Most of the items come from the founder president OP Jain’s personal collection, which have now been donated to the trust. “Here you can find items that can be used from your birth till your Sanyas,” says Mr Jain. The Kendra also runs Sanskriti Yatra workshops on different aspects of culture for school children of Delhi.
The Kendra has also established the coveted Sanskriti Awards for young achievers in different fields. Instituted in 1979 itself, these awards were the Pratishthan’s first project. These awards are given in the field of literature, journalism, art, music, dance, theatre and social and cultural achievements. The age bar being 35 years. “The main aim of the awards is to recognise talent early on and nurture the same,” says Mr Jain.
The Sanskriti Kendra looks to have emerged as a pleasant working space for those individuals who are engaged in creative work. The centre is also home to visiting artists from across the globe, who come for short periods to pursue their interest.
Bronwynne and her husband Deenys Watkins, both artists from New Zealand, came to the Kendra at the beginning of this year and plan to stay till early next month. “The experience has been fantastic. It’s a great atmosphere. Our of our friends who visited this centre showed us the brochure and we decided to come her,” gushes Ms Watkins. Ms Watkins is busy working on clay articles while Mr Watkins busies himself painting “little studies”.
Another artist, Naghmeh Samini from Iran, who has come on an Ashberge scholarship, plans to study common aspects of Indian and Iranian drama for the next three months at the Kendra.
Sanskriti’s residency programme works in collaboration with international organisations like UNESCO, Asia Link and the Fulbright Fellowships Program.
Initially funds for the Kendra were provided by the board members. Over the years, Sanskriti has received grants from the government and various other organisations like Indian Council of Cultural Research, and the Ford Foundation. Some of the expenses of the Kendra are met through the grants, while the others are met through the corpus income.
Now Sanskriti plans to move forward. It is looking at tapping corporate funds in a major way. Mr Jain rings in a note of caution, though.
“Yes, we are looking at tapping funds from the corporate sector. But we would like to associate with those who share our vision. The Kendra would like some corporate houses to sponsor its residential studios,” says O P Vaish, life trustee of the Kendra.