Students and artistes wait to interact at SPIC MACAY’s international convention in the city from June 8 to 14

Tomorrow, at dawn, the dense wooded campus of IIT-M will echo with the strains and rhythms of Indian classical and folk performing arts even as master craftsmen bring alive the tranquil setting with their colourful creations.

Starting from June 8, over a week’s time, artistes and artisans along with young enthusiasts will build a cultural bridge to take forward SPIC MACAY’s (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) mission of connecting traditional arts with generation next.

 Veteran and student volunteers under the stewardship of the movement’s visionary founder Kiran Seth are busy looking into the details of the arrangement of SPIC MACAY’s first international convention in the city, which will have 1,500 delegates from India and abroad and will be inaugurated by Governor K. Rosaiah.

“There’s excitement, hope and promise,” says Meera, an active student volunteer, talking about the mega event even as another youngster Chaitanya Vijay chips in with his strong views on the need for such progressive cultural initiatives. “It’s a timely metaphor for youngsters, who are busy constructing an identity online. It’s also a meeting ground for people of different eras and interests who would otherwise not be seen together.”

So as the festival sets out to build a surreal landscape in an academic environ we ask a few leading performers about partaking in this significant creative exercise and social experiment.

Says globally-celebrated Bharatanatyam artiste Padma Subrahmanyam, “I always look forward to a SPIC MACAY invitation. The conventions and workshops are bright spots of positive energy. Over the years, I have found youngsters extremely receptive and the sessions, thought-provoking. Being an optimist, I feel something will come out of these efforts that will reassure our arts’ great future.”

Thirty-seven-year-old SPIC MACAY’s role in breaking musical barriers and bringing about a cultural regeneration is unparalleled but we need more such initiatives to draw the attention of youth,” says ace dhrupad singer Faiyaz Wasifuddin Dagar, son of Ustad Nasir Faiyazuddin Dagar. “We need to make them realise there’s music beyond film songs and that classical tunes can be enjoyable too.”

Kathak exponent Malabika Mitra can give up anything to be a part of these interactive sessions. “There are hundreds of TV channels but none have a slot for our arts. So it’s only through movements like SPIC MACAY that we can reach out,” she says. “It’s a challenge to demystify and deconstruct these classical forms. Even if we cannot get these youngsters to pursue the arts it’s enough if we make them aware of their timeless and universal appeal,” adds the dancer, who wants parents to create a mahoul (atmosphere) at home wherein the child learns to appreciate our heritage.

“It’s the amazing spirit of the festival that makes this exchange beautiful,” says Grammy-award winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, whose innovations on the veena are well known.

“The progressive aura and inclusive spaces are ideal for giving a refreshing twist to tradition. In fact, the movement suggests that these genres do not thrive on just past glories. Things had to change, and that’s what is happening: you can feel it, you can see it,” he says.