The Music Academy added a video section of classical dance and related lecture programmes to its digital archives section on Friday.

Eminent dancer and scholar Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar inaugurated the ‘TAG Digital Listening and Viewing Archives’ to rasikas in the presence of Leela Samson, chairperson, Sangeet Natak Akademi, R.T. Chari from TAG group of companies, Music Academy president N. Murali and its vice-president N. Gopalaswami.

With the launch, the Music Academy has added 200 hours of video to its digital archive, which already has 6,600 hours of audio concerts. The entire archive, its patrons said, has digital data stored in servers to the tune of four Terrabytes of data, some of it painstakingly reconstructed from spool tapes.

“With some of the old tapes, one has to put it thrice the time in terms of effort,” explained Mr. Chari, whose company has been sponsoring the digital archives since it was introduced in 2008. “For one hour of audio, it would approximately take three hours.”

Mr. Chari said TAG Group would support the Music Academy digital archives for five more years.

IPR challenge

In their respective addresses at the inaugural function, Mr. Murali and Ms. Samson dwelt upon the challenges facing archival of arts, especially over intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes.

The digital archives at Music Academy are being constructed based on donations being made by the Academy members, musicians and even fans, on the guarantee that Music Academy would only use it for non-profit purposes.

Mr. Murali noted that the real opportunity to open up the archives would be by going online but there were still some challenges over preventing misuse and in safeguarding the copyrights of the artists.

Ms. Samson said similar challenges faced the archives at Sangeet Natak Akademi and also the National archives, which she said were “priceless treasures” of the country’s cultural heritage. The process would also require substantial government funding. “The question remains whether we have the political will to put down the money for such a scale of archiving.” Countries like the US and Germany had made strides in archiving their national arts, she added.

Prof. Chandrasekar urged the artists and their families to be more open to sharing their workwith the world and not let legal disputes get in the way of archiving and saving the art forms for posterity.

The Music Academy’s digital archive is located within its premises on TTK Road, Chennai. In addition to the audio listening booths, which can be used to listen to the audio archives, it now features three LED televisions with access to the video archives of eminent classical dancers and also lecture presentation on classical dance produced by Krishnaswamy Associates and Sudharani Raghupathi.

The archives can be accessed for a membership fee of Rs.500 per year and Rs.100 per month.