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Traditional arts will revive and flourish if effective links are forged with the modern knowledge-based Indian economy
Posted On Monday, February 22, 2010 at 12:45:33 AM
Pop culture makes traditional arts and craft unpopular as their markets shrink and disappear. Those who rely on our traditional arts and crafts for a living just cannot survive.
IT is closely linked with knowledge and can be applied particularly in every art. But this is a mixed blessing. It can kill craftsmanship skills nurtured over generations, leading to the mass extinction of talent and imagination.
A traditional painter, who has developed manual skills in painting, gives up his practice and starts using computer software for painting.
Similarly artists skilled in handlooms like kalamkari may opt for the easy option of computer-aided design. Loss of manual skills does affect adversely the development of creative imagination.
This is particularly true of animation and cartoons in the world of entertainment, if we consider painting and drawing skills.
Information, Communication and Entertainment [ICE] define an important sunrise sector of our knowledge economy today.
With a little imagination ICE can be used to tackle the rot affecting our traditional arts and culture. With its capacity for scanning and storage IT can be used to preserve digitally our entire heritage of ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit and other Indian languages.
In the area of music, particularly carnatic music, IT has helped greatly in a totally unexpected way.This is due to the dominance of the southern states in IT.
Carnatic music is closely linked to mathematics. Nostalgia for home and the common link of mathematics has curiously resulted in a vigorous revival of interest in Carnatic music among many south Indian IT professionals.
Rivaling the legendary music season of Chennai, there is today a Cleveland music festival. Leading artists of Carnatic music earn handsomely, thanks to the synergy of IT with classical music.
Disney nurtured a generation of of artists who used to sketch individual frames for the famous cartoon films. Now, thanks to computers, animation has become an important sector of Hollywood.
One possible way to revive our tradional arts and crafts is setting up of Artists’ Villages that are equipped to reap the benefits and advantages that IT offer.
The idea of an artists’ village is not new. Long ago Rabindranath Tagore tried to create an artists’ village in Shantiniketan. Chennai has Dakshina Chithra, Hyderabad has its Shilpagram and Bangalore, Nrithyagram.
All these villages however do not provide a direct link with the ICE economy.They also do not do two things which are vital for reviving Indian arts.
The first is continuously training new generations of talented artistic youngsters. They must be able to learn from the masters under the time tested guru-shishya parampara.
Secondly, they must also be trained in IT so that the artists’ village can act as outsourcing studios for ICE products like cartoons, textile designs, handicrafts etc. Indians can thus develop professionals for content creation for animation. There is a dearth of content when it comes to entertainment today.
Our wealth of folktales and mythology can be a source for global entertainment. Talented traditional artists have to be identified and brought to a central arts village.
Here their interaction will create a new creative cultural synergy and the right environment for nurturing new talent. The entire project must be designed on a sound financial basis so that after the initial investment for infrastructure, continuous subsidy or doles are not required.
On the other hand, there has to be an effective business alliance with multinational organisations in the entertainment sector so that the master artists and the new generation of students get attractive remunerations that enable them to lead creative and at the same time financially viable lives.
Such a synthesis of ICE and arts can ensure the survival of our traditional arts and make them flourish vigorously.
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