The alumni association of Chennai-based Kalakshetra Foundation recently met Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and expressed concern over the state of affairs at the prestigious art and culture institution. During their meeting, the group batted for a greater role for the alumni in running of the institution and protested against renting out the premises for college fests and markets, as was allowed recently.
In a representation to the ministry, the group stressed upon posting “only an Alumni from Kalakshetra as Director”, the “Board to have 50% members from Kalakshetra Alumni” and “conducting a detailed enquiry and review into the policy of renting out the premises of Kalakshetra, and its recent desecration”. Kalakshetra Alumni Association is a registered association representing 400 distinguished alumni, comprising Padma awardees, Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees, and internationally recognised artistes.
Confirming the meeting, Sharma told The Indian Express, “They had some concerns which they shared; there was no resentment.”
Bharatanatyam artiste and bureaucrat Ananda Shankar Jayant, a member of the alumni association, says, “There has been a watering down of the ethos and philosophy of Kalakshetra lately, which is being run by non-alumni. The 80-year-old organisation has such celebrated alumni across the world, why choose people from outside?” She adds, “Recently, they allowed a flash mob and a farmer’s market on the premises to raise funds. This has really hurt all of us, who are retainers of Rukmini Devi Arundale’s legacy.”
The institute has been headless for the past 10 months ever since tenure of its director Priyadarshini Govind ended. Currently, former CEC N Gopalaswami is chairman of the governing body.