Writers, artists for restoring autonomy of Cultural Academy

Academy’s General Council has not met in two decades
Lalit Gupta
JAMMU, July 3: Coming down heavily upon the bureaucratic way of the working to which J&K Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages, has lapsed during past few years, eminent writers, visual and performing artists of Jammu demanded restoration of its autonomous character that stands assured under its constitution.
In an interaction organized by Khalid Bashir, the recently appointed Secretary of J&K Cultural Academy, at the K L Saigal Hall, here today, leading personalities from literature, painters, sculptors, dramatists, folk singers and musicians raised multiple issues relating to the working of Academy.
In the day-long interaction which started with writers and poets of different languages like Dogri, Punjabi, Urdu and Kashmiri, Prof Lalit Magotra, president, Dogri Sanstha, urged the Secretary to immediately call the meeting of the General Council, the main governing body of Academy which in total violation of Academy’s constitution has not been held since last two decades. Prof Magotra and others enquired as to why the sanctioned project of the Writers Club has not been taken up.
Mohan Singh, well known Dogri poet and activist, asked the Secretary to ensure that all major programs and activities in the fields of art, culture and languages are organized after consultation with the respective Advisory Committees to discourage favoritism and nepotism. He also drew attention towards pathetic condition of the reference library and absence of a proper reading room for the readers.
Khalid Hussain, leading Punjabi short story writer along with Dr Susheel Sharma, Harbhajan Sagar, while reflecting upon the overall decline of Academy’s literary journal Sheeraja, drew attention towards the sad state of affairs in the Punjabi section of the Academy where the standard of publication has gone down in absence of a proper editor.
The visual artists including T S Batra, Chander Prakash, Rohit Verma and K K Gandhi, showed resentment for the way Kala Kendra, the main place for showcasing of visual arts in the State is being run shabbily by the Academy. They also asked the Secretary to ensure that the artists camps being held by the Academy as per past practice are of high standards so as to attract leading contemporary artists of the country. They demanded that persons qualified in fine arts be appointed to look after Academy’s activities in the field.
The theatre artists led by Kavi Rattan, pioneer of modern theatre in the State, asked for constructing of an open–air theatre so that a proper space is provided to theatre groups for holding performances and rehearsals. The issue of non-holding of district theatre festival, arbitrary manner of sanctioning grants for theatre groups, raising of drama festival award money were also brought to the notice of the Secretary.
The folk singers led by Gulam Mohammad and Praduman Singh asked the Secretary to undertake immediate steps for the documentation of folk music including notation of traditional compositions as these age-old art form are at the verge of extinction. The singers including Darmesh Nargotra urged the Academy to hold such music programs in which artistes from different regions of the State can perform together.
The Secretary, who himself is a well-known writer, said that it is his priority to the hold the meeting of the Academy’s General Council at the earliest. He said to ensure total transparency in the working of the Academy. Advisory Committees will be actively involved in the planning of all major activities.
He also promised to expedite all pending projects, which have been brought to his attention.
Prominent among the others present in the interaction were Savita Bakshi, Additional Secretary, Sudhir Mahajan, Senior Drama Instructor, Neeru Sharma, Editor Hindi, Brij Mohan, Editor Dogri, Arsh Sehbai, ShamTalib, Reeta Jatinder, Nirmal Vinod and Maharaj Krishan Santoshi.

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