Delhi's signature festival DIAF 2010 is back with a vibrant bouquet of cultural performances

More international content. Increased contemporary element. And the Delhi Government is back on board after giving it a miss last year. While Arshiya Sethi — who in previous years held the post of Delhi International Arts Festival Executive Director — is out, Gitanjali Aiyar, the lanky DD newsreader from the days of yore, makes her entrance as consultant. Pitched as India's signature festival and the Capital's answer to Scotland's prestigious Edinburgh Festival, the DIAF rolls out its fourth edition from December 3.

Pratibha Prahlad, well-known Bharatanatyam dancer whose organisation Prasiddha Foundation organises the festival, is happy with the journey that began in 2006. “From day one, I wanted it to have an international flavour and cutting-edge performances. The idea is to have some performances that are different from the others, and they are positioned like that. They may not be pleasant or according to your palate, but it's only after watching them that you can decide whether or not you liked them,” says Prahlad, Festival Director of DIAF 2010.

In that sense, the presentation by the Academy of Electronic Arts, titled “Edgelogue”, which are explorations in the field of electronic arts and inter-media scheduled for December 11 and 12; Instituto Cervantes' “Tales of the Body”, a butoh performance; and Denmark's Claris Anderson's multimedia live literature performance are some of the highlights of this year's festival.

Adding eclecticism are a range of other genres like sacred music, rock bands, choir music, folk presentations (like Okinawa's folk ensemble from Japan), short films on artistes, a choreography festival, young artistes' festival, Sufi music and films for kids.

The presence of more contemporary performances doesn't mean the absence of classical arts. With Pratibha as its prime mover, DIAF has always given Indian classical arts a fair deal. Young Carnatic vocalist Sudha Raghuraman sings a duet with Meeta Pandit, a Hindustani vocalist of the Gwalior gharana. Besides, recitals by santoor exponent Bhajan Sopori, vocalist Madhup Mudgal, Prateek Chaudhuri's sitar ensemble and Odissi dancer Bijayini Sathapathy from Nrityagram are scheduled.

Let's not forget the vibrant puppet festival and a promising fare of visual arts, which is being managed by Adity Mody's Habiart Foundation.

Though DIAF is a thriving example of public-private partnership — other annual festivals like Ananya and Bhakti Utsav are presented by Delhi Government, Delhi Tourism and other public bodies in cooperation with Seher — in this case, the funds come in through the corporates. However, raising money even for a four-year-old festival remains a daunting task. “Sangeet Natak Akademi, the Ministry of Culture and ICCR are supporting the festival. For instance, the Delhi Government has agreed to advertise the festival but the money will only come from the corporate sector,” says Prahlad, who considers internationally-acclaimed events like the Adelaide Festival of Australia, Tokyo's Content festival and the biannual Tollwood Festival of Munich as benchmarks for DIAF. She adds, “There the funding is more organised and definitive. Here, when you approach the corporates they tell you ‘Oh, it's an arts programme, so it's not part of our CSR'.”