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The love for art and culture continues on OTT platforms amid the new normal of social distancing

The love for art and culture continues on OTT platforms amid the new normal of social distancing

National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), India’s premier cultural institution is a melting pot of art and culture. It took a unique initiative to bring its curated collection of performances, to the patrons on select days a week. The initiative called NCPA@Home is witnessing a whopping number of viewers from different parts of India and many other countries as art lovers continue to unite and cheer the performers.

IANSlife spoke with Suntook Khushroo, chariman, to share his insights on how the NCPA@Home initiative is helping its patrons cope up with the pandemic. Khushroo is an avid music lover and has made a conscious effort to promote music. Over the years, his passion for western classical music has led him to visit numerous international classical music and opera festivals. He is known in the record collecting world, and speaks to international audiences on old and rare vocal recordings and has a fine collection of vintage records. He continues as chairman of the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the Symphony Orchestra of India.

With virtual theatre on a rise, do you think the lockdown has worked in favour of the theatre as people are tuning into digital initiatives?

Owing to the lockdown, without a doubt, performances have had to adapt to a digital format. Through the NCPA@home digital initiative, we have reached a wider audience. The online medium has been utilised to initiate educational programmes under which the SOI Music Director Marat Bisengaliev and other musicians of the Symphony Orchestra of India, currently in different countries of the world, have been teaching students of the SOI Music Academy. Famous music pieces by international composers have been recorded by members of the SOI and the students. Overcoming the issues of time difference and internet connectivity, individual instruments have been recorded, stitched together and streamed online in a lossless format.

The National Centre for Performing Arts is a melting pot of art and culture, will the spike in art consumption across age groups bring the arts back into the mainstream?

The arts have been integral to people's lives, whether it is through sitting in a theatre full of people or now, watching a performance online. In view of the multi genres presented at the NCPA, we have used this opportunity to present our offerings to a wider audience across the world, who may not have had the opportunity to visit the NCPA.

As we stream archival performances, we see the sense of community that develops among people separated by geographical distance and time difference but united in their love of culture. This further strengthens our resolve to spearhead content of the finest quality across age categories. Virtual learning and consumption is currently the need of the hour, however, we are committed to our patrons to bring back the arts to the theatres once we have the green light for live performances.

Artistes, actors, musicians and even labour along with a whole bunch of people connected to theatre and art have been out of jobs during lockdown with little help from the government. Do you think this could have been done differently?

The NCPA is doing its best to look after and support our artistes and our staff. The artiste community has stepped forward to help fellow artistes, too. The government is trying to do its best to meet various challenges, healthcare being the first concern. We would like to thank the government for their support.

Luxury is recession proof, similarly do you think arts and culture will be able to weather the economic impact of COVID-19?

Arts and culture have always weathered the storm. Luxury cannot be equated to art as art is for all strata of society. We are using this gap productively with modern technology. Our genre heads and the team have painstakingly brought alive the NCPA@home initiative, curating content from Indian Music, Dance, International Music, and the Symphony Orchestra of India while keeping the sensitivity of the situation in mind. Our learning during this period will guide us in the future. Archiving, for instance, has been integral to the NCPA since inception but it has been done mainly for the purpose of documentation. We are now looking at archiving for the digital medium too. The NCPA has maintained the highest standards to encourage the spirit of art and culture and will continue to present performances that adhere to this benchmark, whether they are virtual or in front of a live audience..