In the closing years of the last century, one almost despaired of finding the eastern region artistes in the empanelled lists of ICCR. This was not so much for lack of guidance from gurus or absence of talents as such, as for want of performance space where the youthful skills in music, dance and all other arts could be honed for their full flowering. Even theatre suffered from the same handicap, which appears to be considerably redressed in the new century. One of the glittering facilities that played a significant role in this opening up is that of ICCR itself, making available nearly 3,500 sq. m. of brand-new space in downtown area for Kolkata's cultural efflorescence exactly a decade ago. Initially designed by the redoubtable Charles Correa, the four-storey, glass-empanelled, architectural marvel - with a complex of multiple art galleries, court spaces, green rooms, seminar rooms, projection room, library, café and, above all, a 375-seat auditorium with superb acoustics and décor, has successfully emerged today as a location and a platform for exchange of cultural insights, of sharing of artistic and aesthetic views, and as a venue for the meeting of minds from across the country and overseas, even accommodating an active organ on indigenous arts and crafts of Bengal.
ICCR's own Horizon Series for budding artistes has gathered vigorous force, as exemplified by the recent Kathak performance of Sucharita Dutta. Groomed in Bharatanatyam by Thankamani Kutty and Kalamandalam Venkitt, and then in Jaipur Gharana of Kathak by Amita Dutt and Susmita Mitra, Sucharita is a gold-medalist from Rabindra-Bharati University, having done doctoral research in the manifestation of Kathak in Rajput and Pahadi miniature paintings. Having accompanied Pt. Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen in some of their all-India tours as Radha in Gita Govinda, she seemed to be a right choice to be encouraged by ICCR.
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