'Include performing arts in curricula'

President Patil tells Akademi to render aid to masters of traditional arts

The President, presenting the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and the Akademi Awards for 2008 here, also asked the Akademi to identify and help the masters of performing arts, many of whom are living in meagre conditions in remote corners of the country.

“We should give the youth of our country opportunities and facilities to learn performing arts. In our current education system much priority is not given to art and art appreciation. A change in this approach is necessary and would require efforts on behalf of practitioners to make teaching interesting and on behalf of the education system to accord priority to performing arts,” the President said.

Foreign policy

The President pointed out that exchange of culture and arts had become an important part of foreign policy. Schools, colleges and universities could consider incorporating courses of Indian performing arts in their curricula. “There could be scholarships for young artists, who have talent, but do not have adequate financial resources,” she said.

The President conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships, comprising Rs 1 lakh, a citation, an “Angavastram” and a “Tamrapatra” to Kathak exponent Sitara Devi, stage designer Khaled Chowdhury from Kolkata, performing arts scholar R C Mehta from Vadodara and musician Bhupen Hazarika from Assam.

She also gave away the Akademi award to 34 practitioners of music, dance and theatre, who include three personalities from Karnataka — Arundhati Nag for acting, Lakshman Das for Hari Katha and R Satyanarayana for performing arts.

Referring to many masters of traditional art languishing in penury, the President said the Akademi must help them as they were the repositories of the “Guru-Shishya parampara,” oral traditions and various gharanas, all unique to India.

The President also commended the Akademi for preserving some of the art forms and traditions, including by building archival material through documenting and recording performances, and said the Akademi should explore setting up a digital library to provide people easy access to this wealth of material.

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