As it tries to reach all India’s kids by 2020, culture body SPIC MACAY faces a funds crunch

header scientia1

Since January, volunteers at the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Among Youth, popularly known as SPIC MACAY, have been running helter-skelter at the prospect of not being able to hold their prestigious international convention later in the year. That was when they had received word that a government grant to the organisation had been reduced by 50%.
SPIC MACAY, which holds culture workshops in schools and colleges across the country, received only Rs 1 crore this year, instead of the Rs 2 crore it had been getting for the last two years under a Ministry of Culture scheme that provides financial assistance to cultural organisations with a national presence.
The Rs 2 crore grant was in line with a five-year plan that the Ministry of Culture drew up in 2012 to increase the financial aid to SPIC MACAY to at least Rs 5 crore so that it could reach more government schools across the country.
No explanation
In 2015, the programmes on which SPIC MACAY spent its total annual budget of about Rs 8 crore included performances by stalwarts like flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia in Delhi, guitarist Vishwamohan Bhatt in Bangalore, kathak dancer Rani Khanam in Jammu and Odissi exponent Aruna Mohanty in Dholpur. The organisation takes culture far beyond the big cities. Last year, for instance, the Uttar Pradesh chapter invited Bijay Kumar Sahoo and his troupe from Bhubaneshwar to perform the traditional Gotipua dance in schools in Mirzapur, Gopiganj, Tanda and Azamgarh.
SPIC MACAY volunteers said they have also faced a reduction in grants from the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Youth Affairs. Arun Sahay, chairman of SPIC MACAY, estimated that at least 40% of the organisation’s funding came from these central government grants.

The rest comes from a variety of private sources. Thus far, the corporate social responsibility initiatives of Public Sector Undertakings have been an important source of support, but these were drying up too. PSUs are now more inclined to contribute to the government’s flagship schemes like building toilets under the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, Sahay said.

Youth and heritage

Founded by IIT-Delhi professor Kiran Seth in 1977, SPIC MACAY has been working to promote Indian classical music, dance and art by organising performances and workshops in government schools and colleges across the country to get students to engage with India’s living cultural heritage. It describes itself as a non-political, nationwide, voluntary movement.

The organisation has one ambition – to reach all Indian children by 2020. That means organising cultural activities in government schools in every village in the country. “We’ve been doing workshop demonstration modules all over the country and had about 7,500 in one year, all of that is organised by volunteers,” said Supriti S, vice-chairperson of the Karnataka chapter of SPIC MACAY. “We want to organise about 17 lakh-18 lakh programmes in a year to reach every child. So we definitely need funds.”

Crowd-funding to the rescue?

But while SPIC MACAY has lost out, three other cultural organisations have gained from culture ministry grants this year. The Vyakti Vikas Kendra, a sister concern of the Art of Living Foundation, received Rs 2.25 crore for its controversial World Cultural Festival that was held between March 11-13 on the banks of the Yamuna River. The festival ran into trouble with the National Green Tribunal for its impact on the Yamuna riverbed, and the foundation is still yet to pay a major chunk of the Rs 5 crore penalty imposed on it by the tribunal.

“A three-day event got two-and-a-half times what we got for the whole year for the whole country,” said Sahay, chairman of SPIC MACAY.

Similarly, The Vidya Bharati Sanskriti Shiksha Sansthan, the educational wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, received Rs 3 crore. Delhi-based Routes 2 Roots, which organises performances and exhibitions of Indian culture in India and abroad, got Rs 1.75 crore.

Ministry of Culture officials told Scroll.in that the decision had been taken by the grants committee and offered no further explanation.

For now, SPIC MACAY has turned to crowd-funding to raise money for its big event in May but it is uncertain how the organisation will manage in the future. “The youth will be the audiences for tomorrow,” said Sahay. “And when there are audiences the artists will perform.”

Sahay added that he felt that 98% of India’s youth were unaware of India’s cultural heritage. “We are introspecting if we have failed to convey the gravity of the situation as far as this living heritage is concerned.”

global computer institute

About The Author

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scientia main