The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi's move to spread its activities across the State will get a boost on Sunday with Kozhikode all set to be declared its second zonal centre.

“The Akademi's Kozhikode centre will start functioning shortly after it is officially declared as the south zone centre on Sunday,” Akademi chairman Soorya Krishnamoorthy toldThe Hinduon Thursday. “The Akademi's south zone centre has already become operational.”

The Akademi's all major festivals and competitions will be held at the zonal level as well. Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram will also join Thrissur as permanent venues for the International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK), from next February. “The move to take the Akademi's activities out of its headquarters in Thrissur has been welcomed by artistes and art lovers across Kerala.” Mr. Krishnamoorthy said.

He added that he was encouraged by the enthusiastic response to the recent ‘Rasavikalpam', a festival of dance and music held in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, along with Thrissur. “It was for the first time that the Akademi was conducting such a festival outside Thrissur,” he said.

Mr. Krishnamoorthy said from now on there would be one venue each in north and south zones for the professional and amateur drama competitions conducted by the Akademi. “Rather than asking all the drama troupes to come to Thrissur to perform, the plays from south and north Kerala could compete on stages in their respective zones; audiences in those regions would also thus be able to see the State's finest dramas being performed,” he said.

He said the Akademi would conduct a competition for short plays too. “Plays of half-an-hour would be eligible to participate in this competition,” he said. “The Akademi also intends to promote theatre at school; there would be weekend plays in all the districts.”

Mr. Krishnamoorthy said more artistes would be included in the Akademi's health insurance scheme. “We are planning to include 2,000 artistes in the programme,” he said. “Artistes of professional troupes are eligible for this medical scheme. Film actors Mammootty and Mohanlal, who wanted to do something for underprivileged artistes, are paying the premium for the scheme for the first three years; they are paying Rs. 45 lakhs each. After that, the artistes will be covered by the Comprehensive Health Insurance Agency of Kerala.”

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