The Akademi focuses on promoting art beyond caste and religion: Mattannur Sankarankutty

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Music Director Ouseppachan sings during a reception at the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi in Thrissur on the occasion of Mattannur Sankarankutty (on the chenda) and PR Pushpavathy taking over as President and Vice President of the institution on Friday. Akademi secretary Karivellur Murali is also seen. | Photo credit: KK NAJEEB

Promoting pure artistry and skill across the boundaries of caste and religion will be the goal of Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi, said Mattannur Sankarankutty, newly elected chairman of the akademi and drumming maestro.

He was interacting with media at the Thrissur Press Club after taking over as president of the akademi on Friday. Mr. Sankarankutty is the first percussionist to hold this position.

“It is a proud moment for me and my fellow percussionists. Finding real skills and promoting them will be the main objective of the akademi. We will work for the well-being of the artists,” he said.

Karivellur Murali, a famous theater actor and new secretary of the akademi, said art and culture can transcend the turbulent society, which has been heavily polarized and stigmatised. “All kinds of art forms will be represented in the programs of the akademi. Supporting art as well as artists is our duty,” he added.

Mr Murali said developing Thrissur as a theater center was his biggest dream. “Professional Theater Festival and International Kerala Theater Festival will be the immediate tasks before the new committee,” he said.

Welcoming the Kerala government’s decision to appoint PR Pushpavathy, a Dalit, as deputy chairman of the akademi, Mr Murali said it was “a message” to society.

Ms Pushpavathy, a well-known singer, said it was a special time for people who have been marginalized in cultural forums. “The life of Dalit artists, myself included, has been a constant struggle…a struggle to claim our rightful place in the cultural world. I will try to make the sound of marginalized artists heard loudly,” she said.

Mr. Sankarankutty and Ms. Pushapavathy served as President and Vice-President respectively at the akademi headquarters in Thrissur. Musical directors Ouseppachan and Vidyadharan gave a musical treat. Mr. Sankarankutty on the chenda, Prakash Ulleri on the harmonium, Kottakkal Ravi on the maddalam and Shomi on the rhythm pad accompanied them.

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