Academy of Fine Arts & Literature
Academy of Fine Arts and Literature is actively working in Delhi since 1975, founded by 2 women, Ajeet Cour and Arpana Caur.
Academy of Fine Arts and Literature is a non profit voluntary organization registered under the Registrar of Societies Act XXI of 1860) Registration No. S-8780, registered on September 15, 1977.
We launched it on the first of January 1975, in D-15, Saket, a flat belonging to the Founder Chairperson Ajeet Cour and her daughter Arpana Caur who donated it for this philanthropic work.
We launched it with multitudes of floating labour from Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere who were engaged in constructing DDA Flats and private houses in Saket, Press Enclave, the PVR and the markets, and their young girls were just playing little mothers to the toddlers in their families.
We started with them, cajoling their parents, and bringing the neglected girls to our centre for basic education,general grooming and hygiene, awareness about their bodies, learning vocational skills, painting, dance and general empowerment.
We now have a full fledged aesthetically designed Cultural Centre at 4/6, Siri Fort Institutional Area, New Delhi-110049. Simultaneously we started free painting, art pottery, and dance classes 6 days a week.
For our Women’s Empowerment Centre in our Academy, we have open spaces all over. Large halls without any walls and doors and locks to segregate one activity from the other, making possible for the girls and women from the slums and jhuggi bastis to move around freely and participate in basic education classes, stitching and tailoring classes, embroidery classes, computer training classes, beauty culture classes, soft toy making and block printing classes. And painting classes, art pottery classes, Bharatnatyam and Kathak classes, and theatre classes and rehearsals.
Academy of Fine Arts and Literature (AFAL) Cultural Centre has a Free Library and Reading Room; Research Centre for Visual Arts and Literature; a large Art gallery for Contemporary Art Exhibitions, Museum of Rare Ancient Miniatures, Museum of Folk and Tribal Arts and Crafts; A Museum of Arpana Caur’s work of different periods; Amphitheatre and Conference Hall for Literary Gatherings, Music Concerts, Plays, Poetry Gatherings, Theatre and Dance Performances, Film Shows, Seminars, Book Release Functions, Meetings of Study Groups of Environmental Concern and Preservation of Historical Heritage; Research and Documentation Centre of the writings of Women, Dalits, Adivasis and Tribals; Bharatnatyam/Kathak Hall, space and infrastructure for Painting and dance Classes, Women’s Empowerment Centre : for providing education and vocational skills to women living in the slums and urban villages.
Free space for Theatre, Music and Dance Rehearsals; and for Seminars, Lectures, Book Releases, and all cultural activities. Subsidised Café. Yearly exhibition of disabled or differently abled artists.
The Academy has always been locating, chiselling and promoting young and upcoming talent in painting, music, dance, sculpture, theatre, creative writing and translations by offering scholarships, and organising art exhibitions, dance performances, music concerts, plays, releasing new books, translations of important writings in different languages, etc.
A few examples of the Academy’s discovery of young talent are: world famous ghazal singer Jagjit Singh was discovered by the Academy and was introduced to Delhi audience by our Academy of Fine Arts and Literature. His first public concert in Delhi and first record by HMV was organised by the Academy in Kamani Auditorium in 1977, and was inaugurated by renowned cinema artist Dilip Kumar who sang the first ghazal of the evening. ‘Mirasan’ Nooran, who was discovered by the Academy from a remote Punjab village, gave a memorable concert in FICCI in 1978. Many other such discoveries and projections and encouragements have been among the regular programmes of the Academy during the last thirty-eight years.
Since 1975, our programmes were organised in various theatres of Delhi. Now they are organised in the Amphitheatre and Conference Hall of the Academy. Unearthing unknown but talented painters, folk-artists, writers, musicians and singers is always our first priority.
Our regular last-Saturday-of-the-month literary programme since 38 years, ‘Dialogue’ also provides an open platform for poets and writers of all languages to come together to share their creative world. This forum invites poets and writers to share this platform. Poems, short stories and excerpts of novels of eminent poets and writers are read and discussed in every session of ‘Dialogue’ on last Saturdays of every month.
Art exhibitions ranging from the paintings of Hussain, Souza and Raza, to the work of young talented artists have been organised in the Arpana Fine Arts Gallery of the Academy.
Arpana Caur’s permanent collection of canvases, etchings, drawing, gouaches, sculptures etc., is on display and are not for sale in a permanent Museum.
The Academy also tries to bring college and school students to see important shows of renowned artists, to create awareness about paintings and a general aesthetic approach towards life.
Regular subsidised classes in Classical Dance and Painting, Ceramics and Sculpture, Theatre and Aesthetic Awareness, Pranayam and Yoga are organized as a part of Art Education and Awareness.
All these courses are free for the students from disadvantaged sections of society. Stipends are given to the talented among them. These courses give an added vision to the creativity of interested students and provide opportunity to develop and improve their individual skills.
The Academy also tries to facilitate optimal utilization of human resources both at organizational and community level for comprehensive and sustainable development of the neglected and marginalized sections of society.
One of the main aims of the Academy has been to break the age-old barriers between the cultural elite and the so-called non-cultured, deprived and backward sections of society living in the jhuggi bastis and slums of Delhi by making them actively participate in all our cultural activities.
The Academy locates uneducated adolescent girls and women from the surrounding slums, who are usually scrubbing and cleaning in the wealthy houses in the neighbouring posh colonies.
We bring them to the Academy in our hired buses, and give them compact and condensed six month non-formal education courses and vocational training. This programme we have evolved during our work with such girls and women over the last 38 years, much before our Academy building came up twenty years ago.
Besides cultural activities, our aesthetically designed cultural institution – ’Academy of Fine Arts and Literature’ – is a social-activist institution. And community-centred, socially aware, ideological, perspective-oriented community development programmes among economically backward women from jhuggi bastis are an integral part of our activities.
Our 3 Museums ( Miniatures museum, Museum of Tribal & folk art and Arpana caur private collection) are open with free entry, 11 to 7 daily, except Sunday.