No place for classical arts in college fests

Arts & Culture

Students lean towards pop-music or dance for college fests and other programs Students do not prefer classical art performances anymore.  

BENGALURU: Classical art performances are no longer a popular choice for colleges for annual days and college fests. Apart from the welcome dance and prayer song, there are hardly any classical performances at such events.

Sanskriti, a student from Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) in Vishakhapatnam, said fests have nine to ten singing and dancing performances while only a couple of those, are classical. Sometimes none of them are classical.

“The college encourages programs and competitions based on the participants’ talents and makes sure the events include maximum number of students. Even though the fests have no obligation on what type of art to perform, classical art forms are performed very rarely as there is a fear of not being able to entertain the audience,” added Sansriti.

Dr. Rajesh Kelkar, a music professor at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda said, “Classical music is sophisticated music and is not meant for everybody. It is the same with any classical art form. People with a good knowledge or background in music can appreciate this type of music.”

Classical concert by Brainbow, a musicians band.

“I feel people have lost the patience to enjoy classical art forms. Most of the performances focus on giving quick dopamine to the audience. Classical art forms need an equally interested audience who understands the gradual beauty of classical art forms,” said Sanskriti. She added that many performers refuse to be trained in this as expertise in classical art forms takes patience and hard work. She said this explained the low number of classical performances.

Many students agree with Sanskriti. Lavanya (name changed), cultural secretary of a college in Hyderabad, said that there is only one classical dance performance which is a welcome dance and a prayer song at the beginning of annual day celebrations. However, as the program continues, there are rarely any classical performances. “There won’t be any classical performances but we perform a popular dance of every state,” she said.

Kingshuk Ghosh, secretary of the Heritage Foundation of Arts and Culture, said, “There is very less scope for classical art performances, which is because of limited opportunities and less commercialization.” He added that interest can be created by encouraging classical performances from the school level and this could lead to more classical performances in college fests also.”             Dr.  Kelkar also believed that introducing classical arts from the school level can lead to a better scope.

There are other non-political organizations like the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY) that encourage traditional art forms of India. The organization was founded in 1977.

Dr. Kelkar said sponsorship for running such organizations is not easy. “There was SPIC MACAY in almost every city, but to keep the organization active the organizers need sponsorships.  So, they called off the SPIC MACAY organization in some cities.” He added that unlike other cities, there was no shortage of resources in Delhi so the organization was active there.

The concerts conducted by the organization SPIC MACAY in Karnataka, have decreased over the years. Very few concerts currently are classical concerts. In Delhi, a total of 300 concerts were conducted since September 2020 by the SPIC MACAY while only 25 were conducted in Karnataka.

On the other hand, there are colleges that encourage classical art performances. Harshitha, a B.Com final year student from Kristu Jayanthi College and a Bharatanatyam dancer said, “Our college encourages classical art performances.” She added that a recent college fest called Nruthya Darpan with Mythology as the theme was conducted and that the fest encouraged classical, western, and semi-classical dance performances.

Such programs and fests in educational institutions will encourage and promote the classical art forms, she added. “I have given around 20 performances in the college events till today,” said Harshitha.

Dr.  Kelkar also said the government should also create platforms for classical arts. “Madhya Pradesh has taken the initiative to create platforms for classical arts and it has been doing this for five decades now. The festivals like Khajuraho Festival of Dances, and Tansen Sangeet Samaroh, encourage different classical art forms by creating a platform for the artists to perform.”

Also, Dr. Kelkar said that there should be more career options for classical artists after completion of their course. “Despite having a background in classical music, students do not accept classical music as their career. After a master’s in music, students work in schools and teach school prayers or other songs to students.” He added that only a few students end up working in good classical music platforms.” “Government should create platforms for the traditional arts of India, which would encourage students to pursue a career in classical arts,” said Dr. Rajesh