As we roll into Thanksgiving and the end of the year, the Navatman staff sets its eyes on 2017. Between an exceptional batch of artists at Drive East; the graduation of our fourth arangetram student, the Navatman Music Collective dropping an incredible album, and Navatman Dance collaborating with major artists; our year has been full of wonderful achievements and exciting steps forward.
Sridhar and I, galvanized by the work of this year’s team and excitement of all our branches, have been deep in the midst of planning for 2017. While we worked and planned, the election went on around us. We didn’t give a second thought as to how the results might affect our work here. However, as 2016 comes to a close, we’ve seen how vast the varying American opinion is and can be.
We have always assumed support for the arts included the Indian arts in America. Recent events have made us wonder where we stand in all of this, for as an organization that is clearly American and yet also so specifically “other”, and “exotic”, there seems to be an added intensity: one where Navatman seems to have a duty as a space of cultural diversity to help maintain safe spaces and contribute to the overwhelming communication barriers that seem to be in place while also acknowledging and battling the increasing difficulty we will have to continue to create within such spaces.
The importance of this looms above the everyday beauty of class and practice, especially as Navatman begins to delineate itself as more than the music and dance that is the root from which it comes: it is now a bonded group of people and voices. To honor this incredible community and their perspectives, we have been rolling out video biographies of our artists; and are creating an end of the year newsletter - one filled with experiences of Navatman staff, outside artists, professors and teachers we have worked with, and more: each giving their story of how classical Indian arts is beginning to mold and change and impact the lives of many. You’ll see sides of Navatman that perhaps you didn’t realize existed - Navatman at schools in NYC, as an arts management program, as an audience builder and opportunity provider.
Whatever may have happened in 2016, 2017 still looks bright from this side. We’ve had offers to expand, tour, and build, but we continue to need the monetary and volunteer resources alongside your goodwill and excitement to make it happen.
We hope that you’ll take the time to hear the different perspectives we reach out to, and see the many ways we are trying to make an impact, and even maybe take a second to contribute to our future in 2017 and years to come.
Sahasra Sambamoorthi and Sridhar Shanmugam