Art1st Foundation Commences first of the series Art Education Roundtable 2019 in Delhi

New Delhi: Art 1st Foundation, an organisation that specialises in imparting art education to students introduces one of a kind Art Education Roundtable (AER) 2019. AER is a series of roundtables on art education that aims to bring together diverse and experienced voices from the fields of arts, performing arts, pedagogy and policy making to redefine the existing arts curriculum and promote an integrated art education.

Through AER 2019, Art1st Foundation strongly believes that an inclusive and sensitive arts education which nurtures cultural awareness will enable the child to respect diversity, tangible and intangible heritage of everyone. Ritu Khoda, Founder Art1st Foundation said, “We are delighted to have commenced first of the series AER 2019. Through these roundtables, we strive to collectively voice our concerns about condition of art education in India and propose new directions for it. It is our attempt to promote an impactful integrated art education programme in schools and bring in diverse perspectives of various stakeholders; to address the crisis and create an ideal future for art education across the country. AER 2019 will travel to 7 cities in this edition and create an inclusive platform for debate, discussion and deliberation.”

The first of the series AER2019 was held at Gallery 1AQ in Delhi on March 30, 2019 in the presence of three remarkable speakers: Sanjna Kapoor, Co-Founder of Junoon; Naman P. Ahuja, Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU and V.S. Kundu, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana. The session was moderated by Premjish Achari, Outreach Director, Art1st Foundation. Addressing the attendees at Delhi Chapter AER 2019, Sanjna Kapoor, Co-Founder Junoon highlighted her issue about the way schools expect every child to be on stage for the annual day and questioned its importance. Every child is capable to do many other things being a part of the creative process but not everyone gets to be on the limelight and it should not be compulsory for all. She further indicated the gap in the current education system which does not focus on children individually but collectively.

Naman P Ahuja, Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics JNU shared some key highlights from his book ‘The Making of the Modern Indian Artist-Craftsman: Devi Prasad, Routledge’. It covers one of the least known educational experiments .i.e. Mahatma Gandhi’s last major movement, called Nayi Talim, which ran from the Sevagram ashram for decades. He elaborated that there was a journal by the same name, which was edited by Devi Prasad, who was employed at the Sevagram to be able to run the Nayi Talim project and serve as the art teacher at the ashram. Drawing on his experience at Sevagram, Devi Prasad wrote a bestselling book in Hindi called Bachchon ki kala aur shiksha (All India Sarva Seva Sangh Publications, Varanasi, 1959), which was translated as: Art, the Basis of Education (National Book Trust, Delhi 1998). It shows how Gandhi’s philosophy can be made into a very practical system for learning.

Highlighting the key takeaways from the book, Prof. Ahuja further stated that Devi Prasad’s writing offers us a theory we sorely need to construct education through art—where art is not a separate subject, but an integrated aspect of everything, all subjects, the very medium through which al learning takes place. The theory helps us grasp the thread that ties together Devi Prasad’s life as a teacher of art, an artist, and as a pacifist. It also offers us a means to understand why education which allows us to stay indifferent to violence and war is no education at all.

V S Kundu, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana presented a case study of how he tried to realign curriculum in State University of Performing and Visual Arts, Rohtak to create better artists, from which he drew conclusions about the changes needed in our approach to art education at school level. He mentioned that there is a necessary paradigm shift for art exposure at school level; need to understand the importance of enabling teachers in rural schools and developing a better appreciation and consumption of art.

The series of roundtables titled Art Education Roundtables (AER) 2019 will be held across seven key cities in India and will culminate with an annual seminar on art education in Delhi in December 2019. The objective of the seminar will be to bring together a range of voices through collective research papers from scholars, feature panel discussions of experts from India and abroad. They together will define a vision for the future of art education in India and will circulate the white paper to various ministries, government bodies, educational committees and bodies, educational institutions, research institutes, and universities.