Song of Surrender

Thursday, 6 November 2014


A new resource for Indian arts in the UK

By Sunil Kothari

The Milapfest Institute for Indian Arts (MIIA) was launched on 1st October 2014 by Milapfest and Liverpool Hope University at the University’s Creative Campus in Everton. It was inaugurated by Prof. Gerald Pillay, Vice Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University, and the event was attended by distinguished guests from the UK and India. The guests included Claire McColgan, Director of Culture Liverpool; Desi Cherrington from Arts Council England; members of Milapfest’s board of trustees; the Singh Twins; and members of the staff from three North West universities.

The event began with a breakfast reception and a formal inauguration marked by lighting of the lamp. Alok Nayak, Milapfest’s Artistic Director, welcomed and gave an introduction to the Institute. MIIA’s principle donor, R.T. Chari, a well known philanthropist from Chennai, spoke about his intention to support the growth and development of the archives in the institution. He is the founder of the TAG Digital Archives, a vast resource of live music and dance recordings that are now stored in eight computers in the Institute.

Dr. Prashant Nayak, executive director of Milapfest, expressed the hope that the Institute would play a major role in the future of Indian arts education in Britain. Vice Chancellor Prof. Pillay unveiled a commemorative plaque and thanked the donors and supporters for participating in the mammoth project. R.T. Chari and TAG Digital Archive Technician, Venkatsubramaniam Anantharaman have played a major role in setting up this rare archive of live concerts collected over the last 50 years.

As part of the on-going partnership between Milapfest and Hope University, the new institute will offer students and the public the opportunity to access a vast archive of Indian music and dance resources. It will facilitate specialisation in Indian arts education and host enhanced higher education through visiting faculty, special lecture series, seminars and conferences, as well as the Indika Festival and artistic programme.

Milapfest is Britain’s leading Indian arts development trust, producing world class performances, education and artist development opportunities. Its aim is to “unite hearts through arts” by providing audiences, aspiring artists and teachers with memorable and inspirational experiences of Indian arts through a dynamic programme of performances, tours, commissions, festivals and innovative educational projects. Their principal work includes the three-city Indian music concert series Samyo (the National Youth Orchestra for Indian Music), Tarang (the National Indian Music Ensemble), and their efforts to create career development opportunities for young music and dance practitioners of Britain. The Liverpool Hope University also plays host to two international summer schools, Music India and Dance India, and the Saturday school for Indian arts. In partnership with the music department, Milapfest has created the resource website, Instruments India and two studio albums of new Indian music.

At present the content of the archives of the Milapfest Institute for Indian Arts includes about 6,000 hours of live music concert recordings, audio files from approximately 10,000 gramophone records, digital videos of Indian classical dance programmes, an extensive CD library of Hindustani and Carnatic music, and a library of music and dance related magazines and books. The Institute will continue to augment its resource materials through donations.

The new initiative augurs well for the arts in this age of high technology.

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