Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Policies and Actions


National level agency/organisation dedicated to preservation and promotion of traditional/folk performing arts

- Sangeet Natak Akademi (National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama)
- Centre for Cultural Resources & Training
- Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts
- Anthropological Survey of India
- Indira Gandhi Rashatriya Manav Sanghrahalaya (National Museum of Man)
- Zonal Cultural Centres

Prominent NGOs working in this field

- National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai.
- SPIC MACAY, Delhi.
- Indian National Theatre, Mumbai.
- Sangeet Research Centre, Calcutta.
- Music Academy, Chennai.

Brief chronology-history

India is a country of sub-continental dimension representing one of the oldest civilisations of the world and among the largest and richest traditions of performing arts. Over the ages the arts have been preserved and nurtured through the institutions of temples, local principalities and by benevolent Kings and Princes of the medieval times. In our times, since the country achieved Independence from British Rule in 1947, the Government of India has given great importance to the task of preservation and promotion of the performing arts traditions. For this purpose the Government set up the Sangeet Natak Akademi as an apex body of music, dance and drama in 1953. Similarly the Anthropological Survey of India, which was set up in 1945, undertakes survey and research on different bio-cultural aspects of the people of India. In 1977, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (National Museum of Man)was established at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The Museum has given a new dimension to its conventional objectives by insisting on the survey, documentation, preservation and presentation of the living patterns of culture in the background of the bio-cultural evolution of mankind. In 1987, seven Zonal Cultural Centres were set up in different parts of the country to preserve, promote, innovate, develop, project and disseminate folk and tribal arts and to deal with identities of creative zonal cultural heritage in relation to India's composite culture highlighting its unity in diversity with special emphasis on people's participation and revival of vanishing arts. In 1987, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts was formed and visualised as a major resource centre encompassing study and experience of all the arts, each form with its own integrity yet within a dimension of mutual inter-dependence. In addition the different State Governments and the State Academies of Performing Arts are also involved in the preservation and promotion of traditional/folk performing arts.

Even though India has perhaps the oldest treatise of dramaturgy - Natyashastra and several other treatises have been written over the last 2000 years - the performing arts in India have largely been handed down to our times through oral system of teaching and performing. Therefore, it has been felt that the best way of preservation and promotion of the traditional and folk arts is by live transmission through teaching and performances. For this purpose the following broad programmes and policies are being implemented by the Department of Culture and its organisations.
a)Grants to institutions and individuals engaged in teaching, production and performances;
b)Organising festivals and creating large number of performance opportunities for artists;
c)Providing support to performing art events and festivals traditionally associated with religious and social customs of various communities;
d)Financing special training programmes under traditional system of Guru-Shishya Paramapara - Master-Disciple oral training system, particularly, for those forms of performing arts which are rare and threatened by changing times;
e)By setting up institutions and national projects for specialised training in music, dance and theatre;
f)Giving Honours and Awards annually to distinguished artists - Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship and Awards which are the highest honours in the country for performing arts.

In addition to the above measures, the following programmes/measures are being implemented:
a)Audio/video Documentation and Dissemination of archival collection;
b)Publication of books, quarterly journals and bulletins and by giving financial assistance to artists for publication of books;
c)Research Grant for projects;
d)By establishment of Museums and Galleries of Musical instruments.

Legislation in this field

Does not exist

The mission objective of the Department of Culture, Government of India is to promote, preserve and disseminate the art and culture of India. These objectives are implemented by providing government support and financial assistance to a number of autonomous institutions and through a well developed infrastructure of attached and subordinate offices. These institutions are engaged in propagating, preserving and conserving various aspects of the tangible and intangible heritage. The Sangeet Natak Akademi, for example, has been set up by a Resolution of the Cabinet of the Union Government in 1953 with the objective of furtherance of performing arts of India. The institution has been given the legal structure of a Registered Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and has its own Governing bodies. All these institutions devise schemes and programmes to implement the policy of the Government spelled out above. The Department in some cases also assists individuals and non-government organisations through direct financial aid under specific schemes to enable preservation and promotion of the traditional and folk performing arts.

Category/types of performing arts

The following broad categories are used in documentation.
1. Folk and Tribal forms.
2. Other traditional forms.
3. Classical Music/Dance.
4. Creative/Experimental.



Audio・visual documentation collection

Sangeet Natak Akademi,
Rabindra Bhavan, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi - 110001
Form of documentation: photograph, slide, audio cassette, film reel, video cassette, Wire recording (Audio)
Available for viewing/listening

Aspects of traditional/folk performing arts in education

In the Secondary Level schooling, inputs on traditional/folk performing arts are given to the students through Socially Useful Productive Activities (SUPW). Training is given to the students in various traditional art forms, etc. under this scheme. As education is incomplete without cultural inputs, the Government has taken special care and interest in inter-linking education with culture. Scholarships are given to students who take training in different fields of music/dance/drama and crafts. Educational tours are conducted to historical sites and important cultural centres. Teachers and educational administrators are also given in service training in different aspects of Indian Culture/Art etc., and they are encouraged to incorporate these cultural components in the formal curriculum.

Data provider

Mr. Umang Narula
Deputy Secretary
Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs & Sports, Department of Culture
Address: Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi - 110001, India