Kalamandalam set for cultural university boost, to oversee music, fine arts colleges

The cultural institutions will be linked to the university while the fine arts colleges will be affiliated to it,” Saji Cherian told TNIE.
Koothambalam at Kerala Kalamandalam. (Photo | Malayalam Wikipedia)
Koothambalam at Kerala Kalamandalam. (Photo | Malayalam Wikipedia)

KOCHI:  The Kerala government has decided to elevate Kerala Kalamandalam to a state cultural university that will oversee all fine arts institutions in the state. A detailed project report (DPR) for upgrading Kalamandalam has been submitted to Minister for Culture Saji Cherian. 

The report was prepared by controller of examinations of Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) Dr K P Subhash Chandran, who was appointed as special officer to conduct the study. 

“We have decided to retain the status of Kalamandalam as a centre of excellence for traditional artforms. After I assumed office we took a decision to elevate Kalamandalam to the status of a cultural university so that it can be developed into an iconic institution to preserve the unique cultural identity of Kerala. There are around 30 cultural institutions and eight music and fine arts colleges in Kerala.

The cultural institutions will be linked to the university while the fine arts colleges will be affiliated to it,” Saji Cherian told TNIE.

The government was planning to bring all music and fine arts colleges under Kalamandalam, said sources. Besides, private institutions like Margi, Kerala Kalanilayam, Kottakkal PSV, Kottarakkara Thampuran Kathakali Kendram can affiliate with the university.

Presently, many universities conduct music courses, and each varsity has to form an academic council, which involves administrative expenses. The biggest beneficiaries will be students pursuing studies with cultural institutions such as Chalachitra Academy, Sangeetha Nataka Akademi and Sahitya Akademi, as they will receive university certificates for their courses.

Existing campus at Cheruthuruthy to serve as administrative HQ 

The DPR proposes to make the CM or an eminent artist chancellor of the varsity. Kalamandalam will have an academic council, syndicate and senate as it becomes a state university. The report also suggested naming the varsity Kerala Kalamandalam University for Arts and Culture.

The department of culture will hold discussions to finalise the DPR, based on which a bill will be placed before the state assembly for formation of the university.

The existing campus in Cheruthuruthy, on the banks of Bharathapuzha, will serve as the administrative headquarters and main campus of the university. According to the project report, the current ‘gurukula sambradhayam’ learning methodology will be retained without any dilution. 

All educational institutions within the state offering courses in performing and fine arts will automatically disaffiliate from their current apex bodies and be affiliated with the cultural university by default. The executive body of the university with administrative powers will be a governing council comprising nominated and elected members. 

Kerala Kalamandalam, conceived by poet Vallathol Narayana Menon, was inaugurated in November 1930 in Kunnamkulam, before being relocated to Cheruthuruthy in 1936. 

The Cochin maharaja donated land and a building for the institution. A dance department was subsequently established to revive mohiniyattam. 

Operating as a grant-in-aid institution under the cultural affairs department, UGC named Kalamandalam a ‘deemed university for art and culture’ in 2006, with ‘A’ category status. It is the only deemed university in the state to be accorded the prestigious ‘A’ category status.

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