History & Culture

SZCC - A cultural bridge

The South Zone Cultural Centre campus in Thanjavur

The South Zone Cultural Centre campus in Thanjavur   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The South Zone Cultural Centre in Thanjavur is engaged in taking the treasures to all parts of India

As we enter the sprawling campus of theSouth Zone Cultural Centre in Thanjavur, it is pleasant to see a green cover all around with plants and trees dotting the space. Larger-than-life colourful sculptures of the famous dancing doll of Thanjavur, chinmudras, poikkal kuthirai and village deities, peeping out of this greenery, establish a cultural connectivity to this space. The office building has been designed, inspired by traditional Indian architecture. Climbing up a few steps to enter, we see a mandapam in the central courtyard, in the midst of a landscaped garden, flanked by huge pillared passages on all four sides. The mandapam can lend itself to performances, which can seat nearly 500 people on the steps around it. Besides the director’s office and rooms for the staff around the passage, the building also houses a small closed auditorium for events and seminars on one side and an art gallery on the opposite side.

The four doors facing four directions are noteworthy. Each represents the four southern States — Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala — and has been carved with images representing the art and dance culture of that state. The South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur, is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, which focuses on taking art and culture to the rural areas, with special emphasis on folk arts.

One of the seven zonal centres of India, this Centre with the Governor of Tamil Nadu as Chairman is managed by a Governing Body and Executive Board. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Puducherry and the Union Territories of Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep come under this Zone.

SZCC - A cultural bridge

The energy and enthusiasm of its new director Prof. M. Balasubramoniam is infectious and in contrast to the laidback attitude generally associated with government outfits. “We have a lot of plans and ideas for making this Centre an active cultural unit by making it accessible to the local community. A centre for specially abled children to become familiar with our arts is on the cards,” he says.

“We have a large collection of paintings, both traditional and contemporary, so an art gallery is being built to house this collection, so that the public can have access to it. A multi-facility auditorium, Tagore Cultural Complex, will also be built in our premises. We are looking at allocating space for a Craft Village to promote cultural tourism,” he adds.

The Centre is supporting Veda Patasalas to keep heritage alive and to document it. The Centre has a large collection of films on artistes, which Mr. Balasubramoniam would like to be screened at various schools, so that children get familiar with great artistes of our country.

To spread the culture of the South, the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav is held in Madhya Pradesh, and a festival in Andaman islands is conducted in November. “We are also looking at bringing a festival to Chennai during the Margazhi season. We had a contemporary art camp earlier this year too. We are also working on data collection and updating the artistes’ list to correct omissions,” says the Director.

On the anvil is a plan to go on a musical journey from Tiruvarur to Varanasi, documenting various temples, their sthalapuranam, art and architecture. “In short, my mission for 2020-24 is to bridge the gap between classical and folk arts,” says Prof. Balasubramoniam.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 3:12:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/szcc-a-cultural-bridge/article29641191.ece

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