Higher Education Minister V.S. Acharya said on Wednesday that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government had given more funds to all academies functioning in the State than any previous Government.

He was presenting the Tonse Kanthappa Master Memorial Award to the senior Yakshagana artiste H. Sridhar Hande at the Kanthappa Master Birth Centenary function here.

Dr. Acharya said Karnataka had the largest number of language and culture academies. This showed the importance the State Government gave to the promotion of arts and culture.

While there was the Karnataka Yakshagana Bayalata Academy and other Yakshagana Associations to promote Yakshagana now, a few decades ago, this was not the case.

It was during this period that the late Kanthappa Master visited villages and tried to popularise Yakshagana by giving training.

The Yaksha Shikshana Trust, established in Udupi a few years ago, had now gone a step ahead. It was training students in schools in Yakshagana. This would create an enlightened audience for Yakshagana in future, Dr. Acharya said. Scholar M. Prabhakar Joshi said despite all the concern expressed about Yakshagana, there was no decline in its popularity.

Nearly 10,000 Yakshagana shows were being held annually. The youth were taking interest in Yakshagana, he said.

Chairman of Yakshagana Bayalata Academy Kumble Sundar Rao, president of Udupi District Kannada Sahitya Parishath Ambatanaya Mudrady, Administrative Officer of Academy of General Education H. Shantharam, and scholar M.L. Samaga were present.

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