Wednesday, 25 June 2008

NCPA and the Sell-out of Heritage - Prefatory Note

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) is moving towards the commercial exploitation of its archival recordings. The manner in which it has gone about it suggests a low priority accorded to the interests of music and musicians. We at the DSS Blog respond here with a series of articles that explore the various aspects of this issue in its larger context.

NCPA's preparations are indeed extensive. It has floated a tender seeking partnerships from the music industry, and also appointed as Arts Management Consultant one Owen Mortimer from the consultancy group C-Sharp. (Owen, presently also a director of the Rajasthan International Folk Festival, was earlier associated with the Les Azuriales Opera Festival and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) as Acting Projects Manager.)

Strangely enough, it is only after undertaking these steps that it has started informing concerned artistes. On 13 June 2008 it circulated an e-mail on this venture, the text of which is nothing more than a copy/paste of the tender mentioned above.e

This casual treatment gives credence to apprehensions that the venture accords low priority to the interests of music and musicians. It also makes one wonder how serious they are about their promise made in the tender about conducting the venture "with strict adherence to intellectual property rights and all prevailing laws applicable for their legitimate release."

Not unnaturally, these developments have evoked great dismay in the musicians' community. Some have already already placed on record their strong reservation about the venture. The media, though, has yet to catch. An extensive web-search yielded not a single newspaper report on the issue.

We at the DSS Blog feel that the project is not only a cause of concern in itself, it also raises larger questions about the commercialisation of cultural heritage. In response, we present here a series of articles that examine this and other related developments, together with their larger ethical, legal, historical, economic and other implications.

This prefatory note also features a list of posts in the series. Other articles, as and when they are posted, will be hyperlinked to it.
  1. Overview - Arnab Chakrabarty
  2. Legal Implications - Abhik Majumdar
  3. The System and the Small Guy - Abhik Majumdar

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