Namma Bengaluru has been going through rapid transition these past couple of decades. From a sleepy pensioner’s paradise, it has morphed into a bustling metropolis causing and caused by the city’s neighbourhoods growing, changing and evolving.
Yet, each locality, each neighbourhood has many stories to tell – it could be of the park that was built over five decades ago or of the place where authors of the city would meet to chat or of the place so far off that autos would charge 1 ½ times the metre rate to go there.
There are so many stories that these neighbourhoods can tell us. Stories revisited, different versions of the same story, stories that link with each other, stories that lay hidden in memories… memories of the past, experiences of the present, and imaginations of the future. And yet so many of these stories have disappeared into the annals of time because they have not been documented or passed on down generations. Added to this is the frenzy of getting through the demanding life of a growing metropolitan which has resulted in people not having the time to slow down and narrate these stories to their children or others.
In addition to the old-timers and locals, a lot of people from other parts of the country and world have made Bengaluru their home in past few years. This in itself has given rise to questions like, ‘What exactly is Bengaluru’s culture?”, and ‘Whose Bangalore is it anyway?”
Recognising the above, and with the intention of capturing some of the countless stories of the changing landscape, culture and social dynamics of namma ooru, the Indian Foundation for the Arts (IFA), a national non-profit grant making organisation that has been supporting practices, research and education in Arts in India for nearly 2 ½ decades, has come up with Project 560.
In an interview with RadioActive CR90.4MHz, Arundhati Ghosh, IFA’s Executive Director explained the rationale behind the name: 5, 6, and 0 are the first three digits of Bengaluru’s PIN code. Since this project is focussed on the city of Bengaluru irrespective of the locality, it has been called Project 560.
A ‘found space’ festival
Arundhati also shared about how the project was launched in 2014 as a programme that focused on the city one lives in rather than art at a national level. Research done by them earlier of performance spaces in different cities had thrown up the fact that infrastructure for art / performance in most cities were either in a bad shape – especially the public or the government ones which are cheaper, or were too expensive, especially if they were private ones. This had resulted in many of the performance artists seeking out “alternate spaces” – spaces that were traditionally not meant to be a stage. The artists ‘found’ that they could work / perform in places like libraries, cafes, restaurants, on top of a bridge, in a park. Based on this observation, IFA decided to do a ‘found space’ festival.
6 grants were given for 6 projects during the pilot run in 2014. This saw over 80 people from different walks of life including artists, writers, designers and software programmers participating in it. According to Arundhati, over 80-90 small and large events were held across the city in various spaces – parks, bridges, sand dunes, markets, cafes, and almost every kind of space that one could think of. Questions like ‘What is art?’, ‘Why art in city?’, ‘Why should urban life be concerned about art?’, ‘What kind of questions can we ask about our life and living, and our engagement and relationship with the city through this art?’, etc. were discussed in social and other media by residents of Bengaluru.
The second edition of Project 560 was held in 2015. According to information on the IFA website, a round table meeting with an external panel of members was held in August 2016 the outcome of which is the current Project 560 which has three elements to it – Grants to Artists, Grants to Organisations, and, the Neighbourhood Project.
Every city is made of neighbourhoods of different kinds – call them ‘Pada’, ‘Nukkad’ or locality. Some neighbourhoods have largely remained the same, some are changing yet, while others have totally transformed. Whatever be the case, every neighbourhood has multiple stories about its inhabitants, about its history, its current concerns, and also about what kind of neighbourhood it wants to become. It is these stories that the Neighbourhood Project aims to capture through this project.
The process for doing so is essentially telling the stories of a neighbourhood through any art form – dance, music, food, conversations, storytelling, a 2/3-day festival, a series of meetings in a park or some community space over a pre-defined period or on a weekly basis… the options are limited to the imagination of the applicants.
Individuals and / or neighbourhood communities based in India can apply for a Grant of up to Rs. 25,000/-; the condition is that the applicants have to be Indian citizens, a registered non-profit, a community center, or a group.
Quoting from the IFA website, “We invite proposals that will engage with the spaces, stories, and people of your neighbourhoods, in Bangalore. These engagements could be an event or a series of events that include storytelling sessions, music, street performances, temporary/permanent installations, mapping exercises, walks and so on, that would enable people to rethink and re-imagine their neighbourhoods and express through the arts and culture, the joys and challenges of living together.”
15 July 2018 is the deadline for submission of proposal this year. More details can be found here.
There are two more categories to be called for:
Grants for organisations: Grants are available for city-based organisations for the period of a year, to curate a body of work that reflects upon, asks questions of, and / or offers multiple imaginations of the city. Arts organisations or non-arts organisations working towards artistic outcomes, collaborations between organisations working in different fields etc are encouraged to apply. The call for proposals will be circulated soon.
Grants for individuals: These grants are for practitioners and researchers to creatively engage with the city’s pasts, presents or futures through critical inquiry. Practitioners of art, such as writers, poets, performing / performance artists, visual artists, filmmakers, new media – digital artists can apply. Collaborative projects between artists and researchers are also encouraged. Applicants may be based anywhere in India, the project has to be undertaken in Bengaluru. Three grants up to a maximum of Rs 4 lakh each will be given, and the call for proposals under this category will be circulated soon.