Issue Can pure concrete contribute to the flourishing of art? Ranee Kumar

The environs stink of chewed and spit out betel leaf ( paan ) as you make your way up the stairs leading to what is termed a government music college — Annamayya College of music to be precise. The noise pollution is certainly few decibels higher than perhaps the rest of the city; you have a thoroughfare leading from Madina via the High Court as your frontage and then a stadium as your backyard where up and coming sportsmen cheer their way through their practice sessions. And as if to beat it all, classical music classes are on in all this din and bustle. As you draw your way up, you encounter screens that envelop the principal's chamber and a narrow way with classrooms on either side. A few dutiful and diligent students squatting on the ground trying to repeat a kriti (composition) after the teacher. Their voices are drowned in the cacophony of hooting vehicular traffic and booing players and they plod on in this manner without a break for silence.

The head of this institution hopes for a better future or rather a more peaceful locale for a music institution to thrive. Much as they are run on a curriculum like any other academics, performing arts like music, dance, drama or even painting, come under the nomenclature of ‘fine arts' as they have an artistry about them and need a mind and atmosphere that is favourable to their preservation, promotion and propagation. Why would a great soul like Rabindranath Tagore envisage a Shantiniketan (Viswabharathi University) in the lap of nature? Or closer home, Rukmini Arundale's Kalakshetra? So that, the artistically-oriented step into an ambience that in turn acts as a prop to their own sensitivity and sensibilities and helps them imbibe the art form in peace and harmony. There is no questioning that the environment plays a large role in fostering fine arts. How come our architects of art turned a Nelson's eye to such a simple fact?

Be it the King Koti music college or the Secunderabad music college or other such colleges across the state? For that matter even the Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, the brainchild of an artistic ex-chief minister of our state? They are housed in buildings that have no aesthetics whatsoever; in congested parts of the city. The university is a shade better though there is much to be desired in its functional auditorium, its drab and dishevelled premises. Should such temples of learning operate from a structure that has nothing to boast except a set of bricks, mortar and cement? Can inanimate constructions contribute to the cause of our rich cultural heritage called classical music or dance or theatre arts, leave alone the more creative — painting, sculpture or drawing. The students presently attending various courses in these colleges are in no mood to think of the environment. To them, it is the stamp of authenticity in the form of diploma or degree of post-graduation that matters, in the hope of future employment potential. The arts can definitely be adopted for a living; the past masters have done so and teaching and performing is the objective of institutionalised learning. But, creativity in its true sense can blossom only under certain circumstances brought into close contact with nature. If the world created a Keats, Shelley or Beethovan or a Kalidasa or Krishna Sastry — who became immortal icons of their times, well, they lived and worked in close proximity with nature. In the present times, especially in metros, it may not be possible to find open vistas of verdant land, but within the concretization, we could surely visualize a artistic environment which would go a long way in moulding the minds of all those who enter its portals, so that they would not just walk out with a certificate in hand but evolve as the torch-bearers of our revered arts and culture.