08/06/2014, 00.00
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Kala Darshini art school marks 25 years teaching Andhra Pradesh's poor children

by Benigna Menezes*
The school marks the start of its Silver Jubilee. Since inception, its aim was to promote cultural awareness in the population and help children from rural areas develop their artistic talent.

Vijayawada (AsiaNews) - For the past quarter century, the Kala Darshini Institute of Fine Arts has been dedicated to the promotion of cultural awareness among the people of Andhra Pradesh without discrimination of caste, creed, language or ethnicity, paying particular attention to orphaned or abandoned children from remote villages in the state.

On 31 July, the Jesuit-run facility marked the start of its silver jubilee celebrations at the chapel of Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada.

Mgr Govindu Joji, apostolic administrator, led the Mass, which was attended by Jesuit priests who teach at the institute, lay school staff, students and friends from the local community.

Before the Eucharist, 25 students staged a short performance in traditional clothing. The kids accompanied the Mass with hymns composed for the occasion using indigenous musical instruments.

Kala Darshini (The one who shows the way) opened on 31 July 1990 at the Andhra Loyola College. Over the years, it has trained thousands of young people in fine and folk arts, through summer schools and festivals.

In 2001, the institute launched the New Model Art High School, a school aimed at the poorest of the poor, especially orphans and abandoned children from remote villages in Andhra Pradesh, in particular in the districts of Krishna and Guntur.

"It took some time to understand that children with strong artistic aptitudes had no opportunity to develop at a professional level," said Fr Ravi Shekhar, SJ, rector of Andhra Loyola College and current director of Kala Darshini, who spoke to AsiaNews.

"Later, our institute carefully studied the cultural and educational needs of poor children, and found that many of them have a keen talent for music, dance and painting, but without any opportunity to learn and become professional artists."

Besides, many of these children "want to develop these attitudes," the teacher said, "but cannot for financial constraints or sociological backwardness. Realising this enabled us to launch a new programme exclusively dedicated to the kids with talent who come from poor rural settings."

The programme is structured in such a way as to enable them to become professional artists, whilst allowing them to complete their higher education.

Courses cover five disciplines that have immediate job prospects: Carnatic music, vocal music, painting, organ (or keyboard), tabla (Indian drum) and Bharatanatyam (ancient Indian classical dance).

*Missionary of the Immaculate Conception, a female congregation associated with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME)

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