Know India
This page in Hindi (External website that opens in a new window)

Sangeet Natak Akademi

Sangeet Natak Akademi (External website that opens in a new window), India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, may be regarded as a pioneer in the process of creation of modern India that led politically to India's freedom in 1947. The ephemeral quality of the arts, and the need for their preservation led to the adapting of a democratic system in which a common man had the opportunity to learn, practice and propagate the art. Within the first few decades of the twentieth century, public perception of responsibility for both preservation and development of the arts had started inclining towards the state.

The first comprehensive public appeal to government in this direction was made in 1945, when the Asiatic Society of Bengal submitted a proposal for the creation of a National Cultural Trust consisting of three academies - an Academy of Dance, Drama, and Music, an Academy of Letters, and an Academy of Art and Architecture.

The entire question was reconsidered after independence, in a Conference on Art held in Kolkata in 1949, and two Conferences, on Letters, and the other on Dance, Drama, and Music, held in New Delhi in 1951. These Conferences convened by the Government of India finally recommended the creation of three national academies: an Academy of Dance, Drama, and Music, an Academy of Letters and an Academy of Art.

The National Academy of Dance, Drama, and Music, named Sangeet Natak Akademi, was the first of these entities to be established by a resolution of the Ministry of Education, headed by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, signed on 31 May 1952. On 28 January 1953, Sangeet Natak Akademi was inaugurated by the then President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad.

The Akademi's charter of functions contained in the 1952 resolution was expanded along the original lines in 1961, when Sangeet Natak Akademi was reconstituted by the Government as a society and registered under the Societies registration Act of 1860 (as amended in 1957). These functions are set down in the Akademi's Memorandum of Association, adopted at its registration as a society on 11 September 1961.

Since its inception the Akademi has worked towards building up a unified structure of support for the practice of music, dance and drama in India. This support encompasses traditional and modern forms, and urban as well as rural environments. The festivals of music, dance and drama presented or promoted by the Akademi are held all over India. The great masters of the performing arts have been elected as Fellows of the Akademi. The Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards conferred annually on eminent artists and scholars are considered the most coveted honours in the field of the performing arts. Thousands of institutions across the country, including many in the remote areas, engaged in teaching or promotion of music, dance and theatre have received financial assistance for their work, from the Akademi, as do researchers, authors and publishers in relevant disciplines.

The extensive recording and filming of the performing arts carried on by the Akademi since its inception have resulted in a large archive of audio-and video-tape, 16-mm film, photographs and transparencies, and remains the single most important resource for researchers in the performing arts of India.

The Akademi's Gallery of Musical Instruments has a collection of more than 600 instruments of prominence and has been the source of a great deal of published documentation over the years. The library of Sangeet Natak Akademi has similarly attracted, and continues to attract, authors, students and researchers in these disciplines. Sangeet Natak, the Akademi's journal published since 1965, had proved to be one of the longest-running periodicals in its own domain, and has published the original work of both eminent writers as well as those of lesser known.

The Akademi also establishes and looks after institutions and projects of national importance in the performing arts. Chronologically, the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipuri Dance Academy in Imphal, the premier institution in Manipuri dance and music established in 1954, is the first of these institutions. In 1959 the Akademi established the National School of drama and in 1964 the Kathak Kendra, both being based in Delhi. The Akademi's ongoing projects of national importance are in Kutiyattam theatre of Kerala, which commenced in 1991 received recognition from UNESCO as a Master piece of oral and intangible heritage of Humanity in 2001. The project in Chhau dance of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal began in 1994. The project support to Sattriya music, dance, theatre and allied arts of Assam was started in 2002.

As the apex body specialising 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 projects 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 other countries. The Akademi has held exhibitions and major festivals in foreign countries. The Akademi has held exhibition and seminars in Hongkong, Rome, Moscow, Athens, Valladolid, Cairo and Tashkent and Spain. Major festivals of foreign countries like Japan, Germany and Russia have been presented by the Akademi.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi is at present an autonomous body of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India and is fully funded by the Government for implementation of its schemes and programmes.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team Reviewed on: 15-03-2011