Founder, Kalagram

Gurgaon as a cultural melting pot: challenges and Possibilities

Gurgaon is a city of diverse cultures, values, and tastes. And for any city art and culture serve as the sole thread capable of connecting every citizen together transcending cultural or societal differences. Art and culture fosters a sense of unity, ownership and belongingness towards a city, leading to a profound connection.

At a deeper and psychological level, it is also important to take into consideration that any city plays a significant role in shaping a person’s identity. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it becomes a part of one’s personality, accompanying them wherever they go in the world. This sense of identity aids in building self-esteem. Remember how important was our own home town to us and how it impacted our personality while growing up.  

Gurgaon faces several challenges in establishing a centre for art and culture despite several efforts in the past. In early 2000s, we had Epicentre as the central art and culture hub, Devi art foundation and then Kingdom of Dreams. Closure of such places due to several reasons has created a vacuum for creativity and expression to flourish in Gurugram.

There is a lack of public spaces where artists can express themselves and connect with their own tribe. I firmly believe in the power of connecting with one’s tribe and engaging in open discussions without apprehension or judgment. Art creates a fertile ground for such interactions, as everyone feels connected through a common and profound link. The other challenge is there is a wide spectrum of preferences. In music alone, thee preference ranges from Haryanvi and folk art to a significant interest in classical art and culture. Additionally, there is a sizable population that leans towards light music, modern music, and pop culture. Catering to such diverse tastes on one hand creates several possibilities but on the other hand it is not easy for any single organisation to cater such diverse taste.

 Moreover, Gurgaon is fragmented by its enclosed societies and condominiums, each with its own set of activities and events. This segregation often results in limited exposure to broader cultural experiences for children and residents, who primarily engage with festivals and programs within their own communities. This division, coupled with socio-economic disparities across different parts of Gurgaon, impedes efforts to foster a cohesive cultural identity and sense of unity and identity throughout the city. This modern city also lacks a strong cultural foundation, particularly in classical music, dance, theatre, and fine arts. While folk music and dances were previously sufficient, the city’s expansion has created a demand for a more diverse cultural landscape. It is now incumbent upon the state government to promote and integrate art and culture into Gurgaon’s identity as the Millennium City.

While the current scenario presents a challenge, it also offers an opportunity to provide platforms for a variety of artists. There is ample scope to create such platforms where people can connect through art, especially in the post-COVID era, with the growing desire for more authentic and organic experiences.

A centralised art and culture institution can go a long way in the growth, exploration and engagement with the arts. Initiatives such as KalaGram Society is trying to fill this gap. focused on conducting several events based on classical music, dance, theatre and poetry on monthly basis through semi-formal meet-ups like “Chai Chaupal”. We are also trying to create a community of sketchers through monthly sketchers meet. Other than this, KalaGram has also been hosted several events and awards to recognise Gurgaon Citizen’s in the field of art. Our annual Art festival “KalaUtsav” provides platform to many artists. Organisation like Museo Camera centre for the photographic art, by Sh. Aditya Arya has also become a buzzing art and cultural centre with its several weekly events and art gallery. Kalasthali lead by the founder of Gurgaon Theatre group, Shri Ashutosh Shelat does month long Theatre fest “Rang Latu” to bring several theatre groups together. Kunzum café has been working in the field of literature and few art galleries like The Art Route, Shailja Art Studio, Gallery alternatives are curating several art exhibitions to cater diverse taste. These initiatives and its interventions are bringing hope to create an enriching atmosphere in Gurugram for art and culture. Several art connoisseurs who travelled to Delhi for a real art experience have now shifted their focus to Gurgaon.

Recently a prominent school approached KalaGram to collaborate for an initiative ‘Heritage Awakening’ by school students in the city. This has been a very refreshing experience. Such interventions and participations by various schools of Gurgaon can also help to create an awakening towards art, culture and heritage. KalaGram has also started several walks in association with INTACH (Indian National Trust for art and Cultural heritage) foundation to visit the heritage sites of Gurgaon. It was a pleasure to see the enthusiasm among citizen of Gurgaon to know the heritage of their own city.

Gurgaon’s present Deputy Commissioner Sh. Nishant Kumar Yadav and the chairman of KalaGram and MCG commissioner Sh. Narhari Singh Banger also the vice chairman of KalaGram who have always been very supportive and encouraging towards such initiatives. A developing a vibrant art and culture scene takes time but nurturing it can yield significant benefits. We also have several renowned artists who have made Gurgaon their home and always encouraging and ready to contribute to the art and culture scenario of Gurugram.  This alignment between citizens, artists, and government presents a fertile opportunity for Gurgaon to establish itself as a rich cultural hub. The intellectually rich population of Gurgaon appreciates such efforts and is ready to contribute, making it an opportune moment for the city to evolve into a cultural destination for generations to come.

Shikha Gupta Agarwal
Director KalaGram Society
Artist, Art Therapist
Founder, Udaan Ek Meetha Sapna

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