Published: 19th May 2021
The Centre for Performing Arts in Varkala hosts art students from around the world to learn about Kerala's artforms
Set up a year ago, the Centre for Performing Arts is expected to host art students and enthusiasts from around the world. We find out more about what it will offer
The world is headed to Varkala. In the religious cove of Sivagiri Mutt alone, more than 20 lakh pilgrims flock to the small strip of land and the waters surrounding it just an hour away from Thiruvananthapuram city. The beach town offers generous sprinklings of backwater tourism, medical tourism including Ayurveda and Naturopathy. And in a gesture of gratitude, the state government has set up the Centre for Performing Arts through Vision Varkala Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (VIVID). “Varkala offers so much,” says Managing Director V Ramachandran Potty, who is a local himself, “In all of India, the Papanasam Hills in Varkala is the only Indian spot where people come to study geography. NRIs, tourists and the government - with the Chief Minister himself as its chairman - has come together to set this centre up in order to bring all of these avenues together.”
The core of it is to create local employment and income and, in turn, to attract more tourists. Launched along with a few other programmes aiming to uphold and promote Varkala’s identity, the centre brings together the ancient and modern artforms of the state as an institution of heritage. After beginning the construction process in 2017, it was opened for the public last year under the guidance of Padma Vibhushan awardee Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The international heritage centre is open for those all around the world to learn more about Kerala’s greatest arts. Already, 63 students from different universities around the country, primarily Assam and Uttar Pradesh, have enrolled at the centre. These art students opt to complete their final thesis for their graduate programme here. In the future, they hope to set it up as a deemed university for the arts where they will work with performing art centres in other countries for various events.
“Here, foreigners also come to learn about mural painting,” says Ramachandran, “We have built the largest space for this here. Our programmes also include everything from Kalari to the lesser-known Ambalakulam, Thamarakkulam and Anappallamathi, a wall built during the times of kings in the shape of an elephant’s stomach to prevent thieves from entering. The whole project is environmentally sound.” In addition to Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Kochi Biennale co-founder Bose Krishnamachari and Soorya Krishnamoorthy are also at the forefront of the effort. Those behind it promise that what is to come at the Centre for Performing Arts will be of the grandest nature. Artists and art enthusiasts around the country are expected to flock to the beach town over the next few years to celebrate the beauty of Varkala.