Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA)


 Sangeet Natak Akademi -
  India's national academy for music, dance and drama  was the first National Academy of the arts. It was created by a resolution of the (then) Ministry of Education, Government of India, dated 31 May 1952. The Akademi became functional the following year, with the appointment of its first Chairman, Dr P.V. Rajamannar, and the formation of its all-India council of representatives, the General Council.
Sangeet Natak Akademi was reconstituted by the Government as a society and registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 (as amended in 1957) on 11 September 1961.
Akademi coordinates and collaborates with the governments and art academies of different States and Territories of India as also with major cultural institutions in the country. The Akademi establishes and looks after institutions and projects of national importance in the field of the performing arts. The National School of Drama, set up in 1959, was the first of their two national institutions of dance -- Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy in Imphal and Kathak Kendra (National Institute of Kathak Dance) in New Delhi - were set up in 1964 respectively. National Projects of Support to Kuttiyattam - the age-old Sanskrit theatre of Kerala(2007) - Chhau dances of eastern India (1994) and Sattriya traditions of Assam (2008) have been lauched subsequently. It organizes performances of music, dance, and theatre. These centers provide training, organize new festivals dedicated to these arts, support by way of research and documentation.
 The Akademi Awards are the highest national recognition conferred on eminent artistes. The Akademi also confers Fellowships and Scholarship, their numbers being restricted to 30 living recipients.
To subsidize the work of institutions engaged in teaching, performing or promoting music, dance, or theatre; the Akademi gives grants-in-aid for research, documentation, and publishing in the performing arts; organizes and subsidizes seminars and conferences of subject specialists; documents and records the performing arts for its audio-visual archive. As the apex body specializing in the performing arts of the country, the Akademi also renders advice and assistance to the Government of India in the task of formulating and implementing policies and programmes in the field. Additionally, the Akademi carries a part of the responsibilities of the state for fostering cultural contacts between various regions in India, and between India and the world.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi is presently an Autonomous Body of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and is fully funded by the Government for implementation of its schemes and programmes.


Based on General Performance Indicators (on frameworks laid down by IFACCA and Australian Cultural Engagement Framework) we can study SNA on Efficiency, Effectiveness, Economy and Equity to see how it  has fared on these indicators- (based on the last three available annual reports of SNA of 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11)


Efficiency:
Clarity and scope of objective.
   
  • The SNA’s Constitution reveals its sense of all-encompassing purpose. The Aims and objectives have total 15 pts of which 5 pts are dedicated solely to theatre. National School of Drama was set up in 1958, and became an independent body in 1975, but SNA still focuses on theatre a lot more as compared to dance.
  • Manipur Dance College was established in 1954. Anita Cherian (2009) questions the reasons for starting with it as the first initiative by SNA. “There is no explanation of the considerations motivating this extraordinary initiative, just as there is no rationale offered for the SNA’s recognition in the same year of Manipuri or the Ras Lila as a ‘classical’ dance form. Both these interventions provoke questions regarding the reasons prompting these distinctions. Clearly, an overt evocation of the spiritual is thought to be intrinsic to the idea of the classical.” (pg.41) She further points to the politics behind the move, when she says, “..it is not unreasonable to surmise that governmental distinctions such as an institution for the preservation of the Rasor, its recognition as a classical form were intended as palliatives, compensating its coerced accession into the Indian Union in September 1949, under the conditions of the ‘Manipur Merger Agreement.’”(pg.42).

  • SNA gives Awards as tokens of recognition and acknowledgment to artists’ and their art. Cherian criticises the approach adopted by SNA of giving awards only to established names and says, (2009, pg. 47) “…Rotation, with two forms and its practitioners nominated every year decided the yearly awards. In 1954–1955 under the categories of Bharata Natyam and Kathak, the awardees were Smt.      T. Balasaraswathi and Shri Shambhoo Maharaj. The following year (1955–1956) saw the recognition of Kathakali and Manipuri with Guru Kunju Kurup and Guru Amubi Singh given the prizes of ‘best dancers’ in these forms. In 1956–1957 it was the turn once again of Bharata Natyam and of Kathak, with Rukmini Devi Arundale, the founder of Kalakshetra, and Shri Baijnath Prasad adjudged awardees”.

  • It was only in the year 2006 that Akademi also instituted Awards to young artists in the name of Ustad Bismillah Khan which are called “Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar.”

  • National Folk Dance Festival was organized as a part of Republic Day celebrations from its inception. An annual award for best dance was also kept, it had to be stopped in 1964, as it led to intense competition by states. They were sending troupes who presented ‘choreographed’ folk dances by college students. (Vidyarthi, 1969). 
  
  • On the question of recognition of dance, Cherian (2009, pg. 48-49) points out,  “Vis-à-vis dance, ‘recognition’ at this time was restricted to ‘four well-known styles of classical dancing’ – Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Kathak and Manipuri. The Reports offer neither comment about processes of recognition, nor reasons why these forms were chosen from the spectrum of the nation’s fabled diversity of performance practices. Additionally, the Reports do not refer to any criteria that might have been used to delineate the classical, nor does it speak of attempts made to reconstruct the pre-Independence histories of these forms. In 1955, on the occasion of the SNA’s National Dance Festival, Balasaraswathi claimed that the State’s choice of classical idioms reflected an equal division of forms from the north and the south, with Bharata Natyam and Kathakali representing the south, and Kathak and Manipuri, the north and east. ..” Later on, based on the linguistic division of states, the dances also were appropriated by different states (Manipuri for Manipur, Odissi for Orissa, Bharat Natyam for Tamil Nadu, Kuchipudi for Andhra Pradesh and so on) and there was competition by different states to get the ‘official’ recognition.

  • As the apex body specializing in the performing arts, the Akademi also renders advice and assistance to the Government of India in the task of formulating and implementing policies and programmes in the performing arts (Five Year Plan Proposals). Additionally, the Akademi carries a part of the responsibilities of the state for fostering cultural contacts between various regions in India, and between India and the world. It also conducts programs on anniversaries (Rajiv Gandhi death- birth anniversaries 2006 and so on), programs for visiting dignitaries, also programs for Ministry of Culture, ICCR, etc. and various state govt departments (Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, NAM Conference, Centenaries, etc).  In 2011, Ministry of Culture appointed SNA as nodal agency for co-ordinating India’s nominations for various lists and other actions under the UNESCO convention on. Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • There is no suggestion in objectives of SNA for any welfare measures to be undertaken by the Akademi for artists’. Scheme for pension for artists’ was proposed (1977/78) along with Mediclaim (1995) replaced by aid for artists’ (2007).

    Strength of - project document / Schemes

·        SNA is government funded institute for promotion of performing arts in India. They run different schemes based on their budget outlays. Sometimes external factors outside their control, like wars, etc. have had an effect when their budgets have been curtailed (1963/64, also had to cancel Commonwealth Dance Festival in London, due to the same reason, Hall, 1966).

·        Starting with 4th Five year Plan they have been getting different grants for special schemes like- Survey of folk music, folk dance and folk drama of India (1964), fellowship scheme for special training in music, dance and drama (1967/68), promotion and preservation of rare forms of traditional performing arts (1975-76) and ten rare art forms selected by a committee for support and assistance(1977-78).  Scheme for development of Tribal culture (1979/80).  Proposal was made in 7th Five year Plan for special funds for least cared for states’/ regions to address regional cultural imbalance (1984-85) and Support was extended to Kuttiyattam and Chhau, under a Plan scheme for development of national centres for specialized training in dance, drama and music (1994/95). North East centre in Shillong on 20 Aug, 2008 was established for the purpose of preserving the traditional and folk performing art traditions of the entire North East.

·        Medi-claim policy for artists’ and awardees was proposed along with financial assistance to awardees in 1994-95 which was discontinued in 2007 and replaced by artists’ aid fund.


Effectiveness:
Implementation and Managerial arrangements:

  • Post of Chairman earlier went to famous personalities, Royals like Maharaja of Mysore (1962), PM Indira Gandhi (1966), J J Bhabha (1994/95), artists’ Girish Karnad (1988Bhupen Hazarika (1998/99), Sonal Mansingh (2002/03), etc.

  •  The choice of Chairman is an appointee of the government in power, if the govt changes, it can also lead to a change of Chairman, who could be replaced by a politician, bureaucrat, or an artist. Chairperson Sonal Mansingh’s tenure was marred by controversy, being a NDA appointee, she was replaced by UPA govt by appointing former Union Minister Ram Niwas Mirdha (2005). Artistes resigned from SNA’s General Council against her style of functioning and labelled her as autocratic.

  • Awarding its own- When Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) sent out its press release, announcing its fellowship for eminent musician and scholar Shanno Khurana, it did not mention that she is a member of its executive board (EB). Nor did it say that her name had been proposed and rejected for the last three years — that is since this general council had been elected. (TOI, 2003/04/01).


Economy (Based on an analysis of annual reports- 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11)
  • The section on ‘Promotional Activity through Media’, consistently shows no expenditure since 2008-09 till 2010-11.

  • Grant in aid to institutions-   Although most grants were given in 2009-10 (469), but North East grant was most in 2010-11 (1059.50 lakhs). In terms of grants to institutions to different states, W.Bengal has always been ahead, followed by Orissa and J&K in all the three years. Most expenditure (Rs.388,644,209.64)by SNA was in the year 2010-11, followed by 2008-09. (Probably due to the festivals, Centanaries, Commonwealth Games, etc.)

  • On survey, Research and Documentation- most expenditure  (Rs.14,234,714) by SNA was in the year 2010-11. In 2009-10 SNA spent just 4,221,240. Least amount was spent in 2009-10 on research (58,750). Most was spent on research in performing arts (538,600) in 2010-11.

  • In terms of cultural exchanges abroad and in India  2010-11 (Rs.19,812,891)and 2008-09 were very busy. SNA spent a big amount with an increase of almost triple the amount from 2009-10 (Rs.7,588,791) but, still more than 2008-09 (Rs.11,968,594).  2008-09 was the busiest year for SNA followed closely by 2010-11 in terms of festivals and programs in India and abroad. Budget and expenditure of the Akademi in 2010-11 for Festivals, workshops and exhibitions was Rs. 79, 484,775.
                                                                               

  • SNA Centers- In 2008, Kathak Kendra had the highest expenditure (Rs. 20,128,128). JNMDA saw an almost triple increase in expenditure from 2008-09 to 2010-11 (Rs. 49,288,740 from Rs. 14,736,037) . Kutiyattam Kendra had most expenditure in 2008-09 (Rs.11,165,836.). Sattriya Kendra also shows a slow increase in expenditure up to 2010 - 11(Rs.11,457,644.25 )


Equity:
 Intersocial equity  (Among socio-economic groups & Inclusive of socially marginal communities)


  •  Two national institutions of dance — Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy in Imphal and Kathak Kendra (National Institute of Kathak Dance) in New Delhi— were set up in 1954 and 1964 respectively. National Projects of Support to Kutiyattam, the age-old Sanskrit theatre of Kerala, to Chhau dance of eastern India, and Sattriya traditions of Assam were launched subsequently. After ten years of intensive work under the Kutiyattam project, the Unesco declared Kutiyattam as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in May 2001 The Akademi inaugurated its Center for Kutiyattam, Kutiyattam Kendra, in Thiruvananthapuram on 27 May 2007. As a new initiative the Akademi set up the Sattriya Kendra (Centre for Sattriya dance, music and theatre traditions) in GuwahatiAssam on 15 July 2008 with the objective to promote, propagate and preserve these traditions.

  • Further, the Akademi has also set up its North East Centre in Shillong on 20 August 2008 for the purpose of preservation of traditional and folk performing art and traditions of entire North East. In 2002-03, For cultural development, North-East was given 121.21 lakhs in funds.


  • Mediclaim policy replaced by Artist aid fund.  In 2010-11 SNA spent most in the three years Rs. 2,567,165. 2)

 Interspacial Equity (Urban-Rural/ Overcoming a metro centricism)


  • To avoid the Delhi centrism, Akademi also started presenting awards outside Delhi (1984-85)for the next few years- BombayMadrasCalcuttaBhubaneswar. They also opened centers in various parts of India.

  • SNA subsidizes and co-ordinates cultural exchanges of select groups/individual artists between various states and UTs. Financial responsibility between SNA and the states is at 1:1 ratio. But, for J&K, North Eastern states and Sikkim, Akademi subsidizes 100% of expenditure incurred by these states.

Intergenerational Equity  (Development of skill among youth through Artists in Residence initiatives and Workshops with artists, Creating future audiences through appreciation of dance)


  • Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for young artists below 35 years of age, amount of award was Rs. 25000 for 33 artists’ every year.

  • On Young Artists’  Most expenditure  by SNA was in the year 2010-11, followed by 2008-09. Least amount was spent in 2009-10.

  • On training and preservation of traditional folk and tribal performing arts Rs. 4,718,989 were spent in 2010-11.

  • On Assistance and support to Contemporary and experimental works of music, dance and drama- SNA spent nothing in 2010-11. In 2009-10 Rs. 355,440 and 2008-09 Rs.3,932,876.


We can also study the timeline of SNA to map the major events since its inception that changed or impacted SNA - 




Year


Sangeet Natak Akademi
                        (based on its annual reports’)  

1953-58
























1958-59
























1961-62





1963-64















1964-65
1965-66

1966-67





1967-68






1972-73
1973-74

1974-75



1975-76





1977-78






1978-79
1979-80

1982-83


1984-85








1988-89

1990-91


1991-92

1994-95



1998-99




1999-2000
2000-‘01


2001-‘02

2002-03

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07




2007-08




2008-09



2009-10



2010-11

It was started in 4A-Jangpura, Mathura Road, with Dr. P V Rajamannar as its first Chairman, and KamalaDevi Chattopadhyay as its Vice Chairman, to co-ordinate all the activities in the field of dance, drama and music. Its objective was to promote cultural unity of the country, and to provide a system of patronage to Indian Arts’. Akademi promotes and strengthens unity by making suitable monetary grants and assigning projects of regional character.
Manipur Dance College was established in 1954.
National Dance Festival was organized in 1955. Awards were given to Kathakali, Manipuri, Kathak and Bharatnatyam. (Akademi also gave awards to films).
There were only 8 Akademies to start with- Andhra, Pradesh, Assam, Mysore, Orissa, Bihar, Madras, Rajasthan and MP.
Manipur dance Institute and Asian Theatre institute were being run by Akademi. Akademi granted financial assiatance to its affiliated and recognized institutions for, a) imparting higher education and training in dance, drama and music (included films), b) for purpose of research and survey and c) for publication of important works in music, dance, drama and films.
200 institutes all over India were recognized and affiliated by the Akademi, 111 in the field of music, 54 in drama, and 43 in the field of dance. 
National Folk Dance Festival was organized as a part of Republic Day celebrations from its inception. An annual award for best dance was also kept. It worked with Ministry of Education (under which Ministry of Culture came) and ICCR for organizing functions for foreign dignitaries and for foreign festivals and programs abroad.

NSD was set up in 1958 and merged with UNESCO sponsored Asian Theatre institute.
In 1958, SNA organized a Seminar on Dance which lasted nine days. An expert committee was set up to go into the question of Akademi awards, to guide the Akademi, to advice whether present classification should continue or should there be any further or any basis for classification.
Committee which met in December1958, was of the view that it would be more useful to give grant for the setting up and conducting of schools and develop them, rather than to make any awards at that stage. Committee held the view that a detailed questionnaire be prepared and data collected on about the different forms being practiced in different regions in the country. Executive Board agreed on gathering material for comprehensive classification of all dance forms prevalent in the country. This classification, however, need not be pursued for the purpose of awards. It further recommended to the General Council that in order to obviate any controversy as to the status of any of the schools of dance, the following two categories be added to the present categories- traditional Dance Forms and Modern Indian Dance.
 In March, 1959, in the meeting of Regional Akademies, Chairman expressed the view that it  would be desirable to get Akademi registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. Chairman also said it was necessary to have a survey of various art forms in respective regions, to prepare- a directory of institutions, and who’s who of Indian artists’. State Akademies were asked to adopt a definitive policy for organization of regional festivals of music, dance and drama (including folk forms).   

Old SNA was dissolved by Government of India and Akademi was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 as a society. Maharaja of Mysore was appointed Chairman and 12 members were elected by co-option committee to General Council. Further 8 were elected and added. Executive Board met in March, 1962 to form various committees. Committee for development of dance had 8 members like Uday Shankar, Mrinalini Sarabhai, etc.
 Due to war with China, SNA activities were on a restricted scale. SNA Museum was opened in 1964.
In order to make realistic estimates for 4th Five year Plan, secretary in Ministry of education, asked secretary of Akademi to formulate some broad proposals for the development of Akademi as well as proposals for a 15 year period.
General Council in its meeting on 18th August, 1964 formed a sub-committee with Venkatraman Aiyar as Chairman to examine the proposals. The government, meanwhile allocated SNA a sum of Rs. 25lakhs. The sub-committee suggested that this amount should be used for following purposes-
a) Survey of folk music, folk dance and folk drama of India (3lakhs per year, Rs. 15 lakhs during the Plan); b) Research unit for study of science of music (Rs. 1lakh per year, Rs. 5lakh during Plan); c) Taking over and maintainance of houses and monuments associated with music, dance and drama and of historic importance. (Rs. 50,000 per year, Rs. 2.50 lakhs during Plan); and d) Development of SNA Museum (Rs. 50,000 per year, Rs. 2.50 lakhs during Plan).
Kathak Kendra was established in 1964.
Maharaja of Mysore resigned as Chairman, Indira Gandhi, PM and Minister of Information and Broadcasting took over as Chairman.
In the course of year, the overall allocation was reduced to 22.50 lakh by the government. These remained the same- a) Survey of folk music, folk dance and folk drama of India, b) Research unit for study of science of music and c) Development of SNA Museum, but took out-  Taking over and maintainance of houses and monuments associated with music, dance and drama and of historic importance. (Rs. 50,000 per year, Rs. 2.50 lakhs during Plan);
Executive Board set up a committee which decided on number of awards (4 for dance) and
To the above three points of the Plan - a) Survey of folk music, folk dance and folk drama of India, b) Research unit for study of science of music and c)Development of SNA Museum was added- d) fellowship scheme for special training in music, dance and drama, with extra money which was to be carried out on a year to year basis.
KPS Menon earlier Vice- Chairman was appointed the Chairman of SNA.
Last year of the Plan but Akademi proposed to continue with the schemes. National Folk Dance Ensemble established with Zohra Sehgal as Director.
Chairman’s note at the start of the Annual Report mentioned financial difficulties due to which some schemes were shelved.
Alkazi resigned as head of NSD, which led to NSD becoming independent and being registered as society in 1975.
Schemes continued through Fifth Plan-a) Documentation, Research and building u of Archives, b) Research unit in the science of music, c) fellowship scheme for special training in music, dance and drama, d) promotion and preservation of rare forms of traditional performing arts, e) ballet unit and publication of handbooks attached to Kathak Kendra, f) ballet unit and publication of handbooks – JMDA, Imphal, g) repertory company of NSD.
New Chairman Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and Vice Chairman Kapila Vatsayayan proposed re-evaluation of SNA’s functions with reference to objectives and priorities. Rules were amended to provide representation to all states and UTs. Also, General Council representative on Executive Board increased from 9 to 11. Young blood to be given more representation. Ten rare art forms selected by a committee for support and assistance. New General Council was constituted.  
Scheme for pension for artists’ was proposed.
Department of Culture started scheme on inter-state exchange of culture. Pan schemes continued, plus development of Tribal culture was added to it.
Under new Chairman Dr. Narayan Menon, SNA actively participated in cultural programs in festival of India (UK), Asian Games, NAM conference in Delhi.   
Proposal was made in 7th Five year Plan for special funds for least cared for states’/ regions to address regional cultural imbalance. Promotion of grants’ to individuals, and policy to give large grant to few institutions rather than few grant to large numbers.
Akademi started presenting awards outside Delhi for the next few years- Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Bhubaneswar. New festivals were started – Lok Utsav (‘84), Natya Samaroh (84), Yuva Utsav and Nritya Pratibha (in ‘85); held convention in Teen Murti on ‘Role of performing arts in National integration’in 1987.
New Chairman appointed Girish Karnad. Dissolution of Akademi, and new General Council formed in 1988. 
India International festival of Dance was organized by SNA from 8-25 Dec. 1990, in which 23 countries participated. Symposiums, workshops, performances, etc. were arranged too.
Medi-claim policy for artists’ and awardees was proposed along with financial assistance to awardees.
New Chairman Jamshed J Bhabha appointed. Support was extended to Kuttiyattam and Chhau, under a Plan scheme for development of national centres for specialized training in dance, drama and music.

Under new Chairman Bhupen Hazarika, festival of  South Asian music and Dance was organized.
Review committee was formed to review working of Kathak Kendra which submitted its report to Executive Board in 1997, to General Council in 1998 and to MOC, Government of India.
Programme was organized in support of artists’ affected by Orissa cyclones.
Kargil Vijay Diwas along with fifty years’ of Republic was celebrated with Swarnotsav festivals. Khajuraho and Konark dance festivals were organized as well.
 Uday Shankar centenary samarohs were organized.
Golden Jubilee was celebrated of Akademi with various programs.
New Chairman Sonal Mansingh was appointed. For cultural development, North-East was given 121.21 lakhs in funds.
For the first time World Dance Day was celebrated with other leading dance institutes of Delhi.  Nritya Sangam started in 2004.
Ram Niwas Mirdha was appointed as Chairman replacing Sonal Mansingh in June, 2005 while Panikkar continued as Vice Chairman.
Akademi instituted Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for young artists below 35 years of age, amount of award was Rs. 25000 for 33 artists’ every year.
 International Kathak Festival was celebrated in San Francisco, USA, with programs and symposium on Kathak.
Akademi inaugurated Kutiyattam Kendra in Thiruvananthapuram on 27th May, 2007. SNA also sponsored Delhi International Arts Festival by Prasiddha Foundation and presented programs of classical dance from 16-29 Dec. 2007. 
On 23 Oct, 2007 Mediclaim scheme was replaced with Artists Aid Fund.

Akademi set up the Sattriya Kendra at Guwahati, Assam on 15 July, 2008. Akademi also set up its North East centre in Shillong on 20 Aug, 2008 for the purpose of preserving the traditional and folk performing art traditions of the entire North East.
Due to Ram Niwas Mirdha’s demise, Ratan Thiyam elected Vice Chairman the same year, looked after the Akademi’s workings.
Vadya Darshan –Tableau on musical instruments of India in Republic Day parade, which was awarded first prize by Ministry of Defence in 2010. 
Leela Samson was appointed as Chairman of the Akademi on 10th Aug, 2010. After Thiyam’s resignation, Shanta Serbjeet Singh was elected as Vice Chairman on 16Mar. 2011.
  In 2011, Ministry of Culture appointed SNA as nodal agency for co-ordinating India’s nominations for various lists and other actions under the UNESCO convention on. Intangible Cultural Heritage



      


References-

Cherian, Anita,  2009, Institutional Maneuvers, Nationalizing Performance,Delineating Genre: Reading the Sangeet Natak Akademi Reports 1953–1959 , Third Frame: Literature, Culture and Society Vol. 2, No. 3, July–September, 32–60

Vidyarthi, Govind, 1969, The Republic Day Folk Dance Festival, SNA Journal No.12, April to June, 74-84  

Hall, Fernau, 1966, Dance at the Commonwealth Arts Festival, SNA Journal No.2, April, 43-62.

SNA Annual Reports





This research on SNA was a part of WRAP (Working in Research and Policy) project for GATI. I would like to thank my colleague Manjari Kaul for her inputs and comments.










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