IFA to make arts, cultural works available to public


Students and scholars have been creating ‘alternative’ history, that of the unknown and marginalised in the country.

From creating a source book in Kannada on important sculptural traditions in South India to documenting the threatened musical traditions of the Adivasi communities of Junglemahal in West Bengal, many students and scholars of art and culture have been working towards creating an ‘alternative’ history, that of the unknown and marginalised in the country.

Now, India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) wants to make these little-known chronicles and scholarly reflections on arts and culture across India in diverse artistic forms and languages available to the public.

The IFA, which has been supporting many of these projects in the form of grants, is launching a digital and physical archive of the rich content it has through its engagement with artists and researchers.

“We have been supporting art and culture projects for 23 years now. We have a rich and valuable repository of information on various art and cultural subjects. But if one wants to access them, they will have to search through the entire office. We want to make all the information available at one place. Hence, the physical and digital archive,” said Arundhati Ghosh, executive director, IFA.

On what material will be freely available to the public, she said the copyright of the works are with the artists. “They will be the ones to decide what to share and what not. We only have the permit to use them for educational and non-commercial purpose. Some projects will be fully available, while some will be partly accessible. But, people can always go back to the artist and request more information,” she added.

The IFA hopes that the archive will become a stepping stone for new ideas to emerge. “An archive is a dead space unless the information available is put to use. What will make it relevant is that it will be used as a reference point and foundation for future work on the subject,” Ms. Ghosh said.

The foundation has been working on archiving the projects for the last three years with financial support from the Lohia Foundation. “To start with, all works from 2012 and 2011 will be available in the archive. From thereon, we will keep adding new material every month,” she said.

While the digital archive can be accessed online, the physical archive, which is near the IFA office in Sanjaynagar, can be visited by prior appointment. The archive will be formally inaugurated on October 25.