The late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi at an inaugural function launched the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts on 19th November 1985. In this function, the symbolism of the components of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts was clearly articulated at different levels. The elements, namely fire, water, earth, sky and vegetation were brought together in the foundation of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Five rocks from five major rivers of India- Sindhu, Ganga, Kaveri, Mahanadiand the Narmada(where the most ancient ammonite fossils are found) were made into sculptural forms and are still found at the site of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts as reminders of the antiquity of Indian culture and the sacredness of her rivers and her rocks. There is a pristine pool - the first of the principles of vegetation and the lotus bloomed there. Shri Rajiv Gandhifloated lighted lamps on the water at the inaugural function.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts Trust was constituted and registered at New Delhi on 24th March 1987. The founder trustees of IGNCA were Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao, Shri R. Venkataraman, the Finance Minister of 1987, Shri H. Y. Sharada Prasad, Smt. Pupul Jayakar and Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan.
The arts taught in Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts comprise the fields of creative and critical literature, written and oral; the visual arts, ranging from architecture, sculpture, painting and graphics to general matter culture, photography and film. Other than the mentioned ones, performing arts of music, dance and theatre in their most extensive implication and all else in fairs, festivals and lifestyle that has an artistic dimension are also taught in this institution.
In its initial stages the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts was strictly focusing on India; later the centre expand its horizons to other civilizations and cultures. Through the diverse programmes of research, publication, training, creative activities and performance, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts aims to bring arts within the context of the natural and human environment. The fundamental approach of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is its recognition in both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary wings of education.
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts recognized the requirement to encompass and preserve the dispersed fragments of Indian art and culture and thus took a pioneering attempt while forming the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) to serve as a major resource centre for the arts. The written, oral and visual materials of this centre have produced several well-known personalities in the nation. One of the programmes of this centre is the collaboration with UNDP that is to utilize multimedia computer technology to create a wide variety of software packages that communicate cultural information. Multimedia technology helps the user to interact and explore the subject in a non-linear style by combining audio, graphics, text, animation and video on a computer.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts aims to serve as a major resource centre for the arts, to undertake research and publication programmes of reference works, dictionaries, glossaries, and encyclopaedia concerning the arts and the humanities subjects, to establish a tribal and folk arts division with a unique collection for conducting systematic scientific studies and for live presentations. The centre also provides an interactive forum for a creative and critical dialogue through performances, multi-media projections, conferences, exhibitions, seminars and workshops between and amongst the diverse arts, traditional and cotemporary. By fostering dialogue between arts and current ideas in philosophy, science and technology, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts bridges the gap in intellectual understanding between modern sciences and arts and culture. The centre evolves models of research programmes and arts administration more significant to the Indian ethos.
Cultural Informatics Laboratory or the CIL is a pioneering unit of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts that came into form in 1994 with UNDP assisted multimedia documentation project titled "Strengthening National Facility for Interactive Multimedia Documentation of Cultural Resources". This programme offered a world-class documentation unit that demonstrates the manner in which the heritage can be recreated virtually, in the holistic and integrated sensitivity of culture. The unit also includes preservation and recreation of manuscripts, slides, books, audio and video to preserve the entire repository of its present and future holdings in digital mode and to distribute the contents in various digital texts to the researchers, scholars, and the people in general. The contents developed by CIL serves as the end-point in the assembly line of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts 's activities that are presented to the world through the thematic multimedia CD-ROM(s) and in-house developed programmes.
The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is responsible to elucidate the influential and dynamic factors in the multifaceted web of interactions between varied social strata, communities and regions, promote a network with national and international institutions, and furthermore conduct related research in the arts, humanities and culture. The Late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi planted the five trees within the campus of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, to signify its importance in Indian civilization. The five trees were Asvattha (associated with the Sutradhara), Nyagrodha (associated with the landscaping of Janapada Sampada), Ashoka (associated with Kala Nidhi), Arjuna (associated with Kala Kosa) and Kadamba (associated with Kala Darsana).
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