'Younger generations today lead very stressful lives': Kavita Iyer, Co-founder of Young Artiste 2020
Chennai, December 30: The Singhal Iyer Family Foundation (SIFF) is all set to launch a national-level platform called the Young Artiste 2020 to inspire school children across India to showcase their talent in classical and contemporary arts on a national stage.
This platform will give the participants a chance to pursue their passion and hone their skills under the able guidance of noted celebrities and artistes like Amjad Ali Khan, Shalmali Kholgadhe, Ashwath Narayan, Gurumurthy Vaidya, Rukmini Vijaykumar, among others.
In a world of digital disruption, this national platform is aimed at reviving art forms and culture in India by mentoring students to pursue an art form of their choice and support them in their journey towards excellence.
Indulge got to interact with the co-founder of SIFF, Kavita Iyer, to speak about the importance of this initiative and her aim to revive and celebrate different art forms in India.
As she explained, Young Artiste 2020 is a national-level talent competition for school children across India. The purpose of the platform is to provide motivation and accreditation to students.
Young Artiste wishes to award and encourage as many students as possible and hence will be conferring 100 scholarships worth 25 lakhs to the top 5 finalists in all the 20 categories.
It aims to find and celebrate truly outstanding student talent and support them in their journey through ArtsFF, a Bengaluru-based philanthropic organisation that was set up with the intention of working towards better education, a cleaner environment, and promoting Indian music and arts.
The Singhal Iyer Family Foundation (SIFF) is a philanthropic trust, which was founded with the vision of working towards the accessibility of quality education and promoting our love for Indian Music and Arts.
Excerpts from the interview with Kavita Iyer:
In an era of social media intervention, how important is it to go out there and follow your passion or hobby?
Kavita Iyer: Every human being is passionate about something in life and this is what drives them and keeps them going. With digital screens taking over all our spare time, it becomes essential to break free and spend time with yourself.
It is extremely important to pursue a passion as it brings about discipline in life and helps channelize one’s energy. One needs to find a creative outlet and pursuing a passion/hobby helps you do exactly that.
A hobby allows people to express themselves creatively and break the monotony of life. The younger generations today, lead very stressful lives owing to academic and peer pressure.
Nurturing a passion helps them deal with that stress and evolve as a human being. It also enables people to build an identity for themselves and gives them a sense of purpose and I think it’s a great way to connect with yourself.
As a Hindustani vocalist, how has art helped you shape your journey so far?
KI: I have been a student and artiste of Hindustani Classical music from a very young age. In my early childhood years, my grandmother, a Carnatic singer herself, made learning music a top priority for my sisters and me, and it was a weekly ritual for us, as important as going to school.
Music has since held a very special place for me. After college, I returned to it at every opportunity and was lucky to find a Guru in every city I have lived in. I would say without a doubt that it has shaped me in very profound ways.
I have learnt to stay with the art, struggle with it, find peace and joy in it and stay humble knowing and appreciating how much practice and dedication it takes to make the smallest improvement.
It was my biggest education outside the classroom, gave me confidence, connected me to people and developed my identity and personality.
I would be a very different person today without the influence of Hindustani classical music in my life.
I strongly believe that every child should have an opportunity to learn and express themselves in at least one art form of their choice.
I will be delighted if Young Artiste makes that happen for students from every nook and corner of India.
What was the inspiration behind Young Artiste 2020? Is this an annual property?
KI: At the very heart of its conception, Young Artiste was inspired by our love for the Arts. We want art; in all its forms, genres and manifestations, to be accessible to more and more people.
There is great value in pursuing the arts, and we wanted to promote it in a broader sense.
Pursuing the arts needs discipline and grit, along with acknowledgement and validation. As a student of arts, one often finds it hard to measure progress and potential.
The absence of a framework or validation makes it a struggle for students and caregivers to continue the pursuit in a given field.
Also, being an unstructured field, it is easy to feel isolated. We aim to identify talent, nurture and mentor them to grow their skills and provide a platform to showcase the same as well as aid in their journey ahead.
Through this initiative, we also hope to revive the art culture in India among students and encourage more kids to pursue classical and contemporary arts.
Young Artiste, therefore, serves as a platform to celebrate art and build a community of like-minded people to co-create art.
2020 is the launch year for Young Artiste and this will continue to be an annual property to give children across India a platform to showcase and celebrate their talent every year.
India is home to plenty of budding artists. How important do you think it is to nurture this budding talent?
KI: Every child owns a skill that he/she is good at. It is very important for parents and teachers to identify this skill and nurture it into a talent.
Research proves that children should be encouraged to recognise this skill at an early stage in life to help them achieve greater goals in the future. Yes, India is home to a plethora of artists and therefore it becomes important to provide them with a platform to showcase their talent.
Our country is also recognised globally for various art forms that were born here and we need to keep this legacy going. It is important that we pass this responsibility on to the younger generations and enable them to continue making a mark across the world in the field of arts.
We have many young talents shows in India. How is Young Artiste 2020 different?
KI: The format of Young Artiste 2020 includes a preliminary online audition where participants can register and upload their videos on the platform, followed by an advanced theme-based round.
The biggest factor that separates Young Artiste 2020 from other talent competitions is that we are encompassing a range of classical and contemporary art form across vocal, instrumental and dance.
In each of these, the evaluation is specific to that art form and the whole experience for the shortlisted participants will be about excellence in a particular art form and being mentored by a nationally acclaimed artist or guru.
The advanced round is an in-depth interaction with the guru and an opportunity to present their talent to them to gain valuable feedback and inputs.
The finale will provide them an opportunity to present their skill and talent at a national platform and the finalists will receive the Young Artiste scholarship.
In that sense, we could say that we are closer to a scholarship cum mentorship program and much less like a standard competition, in the general sense.
We are aiming to create an atmosphere of healthy competition and inspiring students to grow through their art, by learning from the best in the field and performing before the jury members and the maestro-mentors.
We do not want to deter or dishearten any child, so we will ensure that every single child who is applying to Young Artiste is receiving feedback on their performance. We want to add value and give back to all our participants.
In fact, at no point throughout the competition will children be directly competing against one another, rather displaying the best versions of themselves in their own space.
What is in it for the winner of Young Artiste 2020?
KI: Young Artiste 2020 is not aimed at rewarding only one winner. We aim to recognise the top 100 Young Artistes (5 finalists from each category) and provide them the right guidance in their journey towards excellence, by industry veterans such as Rukmini Vijaykumar, Ashwath Narayan, Gurumurthy Vaidya, Koushik Aithal, Nikhita Gandhi, Sagar Bora, Lipsa Acharya to name a few.
They will then proceed to the Finale, where all of them will be performing at The Grand Young Artiste Festival, which will be held in August 2020 in Bangalore, in the presence of Maestro Mentors and jury members.
The platform will celebrate young talent by conferring 100 scholarships worth 25 lakh and certification, to the finalists across 20 different categories to support their learning and growth.
In addition to this, one artiste per category will win the Young Artiste (Category) award.