Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Arts and its Audiences

A and I enjoy going to music programs, dance recitals and to watch plays. I used to freelance for Indian newspapers and magazines when we lived in Connecticut (we left the place in 2008) and I used to cover events. I was still new to the country, and so it gave me good exposure to see new plays or dance recitals or musical performances. One event that I had covered was a play based on Mahatma Gandhi's life. It was in Stamford, Connecticut. After the play got over, I met with the main organizer of the event to get her thoughts. She said something that A and I had noticed in the previous events we had gone to. The organizer said that if one looked around the auditorium, there are fewer Indians at Indian events like this, and more non-Indian people.
She was very appreciative of the fact that Indian culture is of high importance to a lot of people over here. It was also very evident how much they enjoyed the program and were engrossed. But at the same time she was saddened by the fact that there were only a handful of Indians at that event. And even among those, there were hardly any younger Indians. She wished that more young Indians came to such events and saw the rich heritage that our country has to offer. We met with one of the audience members (a non-Indian), who had a theater studio in Hartford, Connecticut. He too, echoed the thoughts of the organizer and told me that, if there was some way, that people knew about it, they will take notice and things may change. Over the years, as A and I continued going to more performances, we saw how true this sentiment was.
We had gone this past Sunday to an event organized by the Gandhi Memorial Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It was based on the River Ganga, where a poetess read some paragraphs from her new book on the river and a Kuchipudi dancer, well known in the greater DC metro area, gave her rendition to one of India's most-worshipped rivers. There were more Indians compared to what we had seen in Connecticut, but hardly any younger Indians.
The arts is a beautiful field, but sustaining it is not easy. At a time when it is very difficult to host a show, or invite international artistes, one should appreciate the opportunity they are given, and give the artistes a boost. There are several groups across the country, who try to call budding artistes from India to give them a chance to establish themselves. These artistes need the encouragement. Think about it this way. If you were going to go play a basketball game, or a football game, or play the violin, wouldn't you want that more people saw how you did a great job by doing a 3-point shot or how you were a great teamplayer to win that crucial game. It is as simple as that. It is a sincere request that you please share this small blog post with others. Next time on, when you know an event is taking place in your town, take the time to spend a few hours of musical bliss or learning more about your home country.

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