Tuesday, December 15, 2015

'Tata Trusts Wants to Give Opportunities'

Says Deepika Sorabjee, Senior Programme Officer, Media, Arts and Culture

Photograph by Ratheesh Sundaram

By Shevlin Sebastian

The National Curriculum (NC) of 2005 observes that the awareness of the arts is ebbing steadily among students, guardians, teachers and among policy-makers and educationists,” said Deepika Sorabjee, Senior Programme Officer, Media, Arts and Culture, Tata Trusts. “That’s practically the entire community involved in pedagogy. The NC sums up the mindset of society and the art community itself. So where does one go from there?”

Ten years later, it is a despondent situation in a country where only one per cent of the GDP is spent on health and a minuscule amount on art. “But then we have [Krishnamachari] Bose and Riyas [Komu], who, in this milieu of immense sadness, decided to set up the biggest democratic public art event against all odds,” said Deepika, while speaking at the recently-held conference on art education conducted by the Foundation of Indian Art and Education and Kochi Biennale Foundation. “They did what others - governments, policy makers, educationists, gallerists, collectors or investors - could not do. They filled a gap that was glaring. They did it for the sake of art, with no expectation of personal return.”

And the Tata Trusts are also trying to do their bit. “Philanthropic institutions are not the government,” said Deepika. “But they do make substantial contributions, by supporting projects and initiating programmes to fulfill the lacunae that exists. Education in the arts is one such gap that the government and art institutions have failed to fill, not only due to economic reasons, but because of a dearth of mentors, maestros, gurus, teachers and facilitators.”

So, Tata Trust is supporting the upcoming Students' Biennale. “We want to give opportunities for those who fall outside the radar of contemporary art,” says Deepika. “The Kochi Biennale Foundation's continued dialogue with the Students' Biennale will, perhaps, throw up the artists of the future.”

Deepika also spoke about the need for artistic freedom. “At the seminar, Prof. (Dr.) J. Letha, Vice Chancellor [Cochin University of Science and Technology], spoke about the need for art education to be given complete freedom as regards their curriculum, since it cannot be taught like the sciences. Maybe people like her, at the helm, could speak to administrators so that the policy can be influenced.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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