The objective of the Council's arts program, which includes performing and visual arts as well as arts management, is to encourage understanding between Australia and India by developing in each country an appreciation of the quality, diversity and sophistication of the other country's performing and visual arts.
The Council supported performing arts tours in both directions. In February and March 2001 the Hoodangers, a Melbourne based 'punk meets trad' jazz group, visited India for a five-concert tour under the banner of the prestigious JazzFest India. The Hoodangers' concerts in Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi attracted enthusiastic audience responses (including from the visiting Australian cricket team, who attended a concert in New Delhi) and substantial and very positive news media attention. The leading Indian news magazine India Today considered that the Hoodangers had 'stolen the show' at JazzFest India.
In Australia, the Nataraj Cultural Centre managed a concert tour in February 2001 by the leading Karnatic flautist Dr Natesan Ramani, accompanied by his son Thyagarajan on flute, Bhatavasalam on mridangam drums, Sridhar on violin, and EM Subramaniam on the ghattam terracotta percussion instrument. Dr Ramani and his fellow musicians received standing ovations in their concerts in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Castlemaine (Victoria). One reviewer noted that the Nataraj Cultural Centre concerts provided Australian audiences with the opportunity 'to hear artists who are the equal of the very best in the world, and to get closer to the rich musical traditions they represent'.
In a project designed to maximise the availability and use of a distinctive Australia–India musical link, the Australian Institute of Eastern Music worked to transfer to compact disc an extensive collection of rare tape recordings of Hindustani and Karnatic classical music performers. These recordings, made in India in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s by the late Mr Bill Coates, who moved to Australia after making them, capture rare performances by many of India's leading classical musicians and singers of the era.
In a demonstration of Australian innovation and excellence in the visual arts, Ms Jenny Gore of South Australia represented Australian enamellists at a three-day international conference and exhibition in New Delhi in February and March 2001. Ms Gore presented works by a wide range of Australian enamellers, conducted a workshop on contemporary enamelling techniques for Indian craftspeople, teachers, students and artists, and undertook an eight-day tour of traditional enamelling centres in Rajasthan. The project proved the value of well-chosen arts exchanges in allowing artists from each country to be influenced by, and learn from, their counterparts.
In May 2001, prominent Australian visual arts figure Barbara Blackman brought leading Indian arts and cultural expert Dr Kapila Vatsyayan for a series of lectures and news media interviews in Sydney and Canberra on historical and contemporary Indian artistic endeavour.
Associate Professor Jennifer Radbourne of Queensland University of Technology brought eminent Indian arts administrator Mr Vivek Malhotra to Australia to participate in two arts administration conferences in Brisbane during June and July 2001.
Sydney-based political and conceptual artist Mr Brook Andrew undertook a residency at the Sanskriti Kendra artist community, outside New Delhi, from November 2000 to January 2001, as part of the Asialink arts residency program. During his residency, Mr Andrew developed an exhibition exploring the representation of celebrity in popular culture in India and Australia.
The Council provided another year of funding to the Asialink Centre at the University of Melbourne toward the costs of residencies in India during 2001–02 in performing arts, visual arts, and arts management.
The Council agreed to support the following projects due to take place during the coming financial year, and which will be covered in the 2001–02 annual report :
- the TramYatra exchange between Melbourne and Calcutta, involving an exchange of visual artists and tramway workers to create specially decorated trams in both cities, managed by the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University, Melbourne
- the Foundations of Gold exchange of artists between Melbourne, Mumbai and five other Asian cities managed by the Asialink Centre
- the participation of four young Indian musicians in a music education project as part of the Asia Pacific Youth Orchestra Summit in Sydney during September 2001, managed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.