Lalit Kala Akadami,
I have the honour to submit herewith the Report of the Seminar on Art Education which was held at New Delhi from February 18 to 25, 1956, and, in doing so, I beg to place on record my sincere sense of gratitude to you and the Executive Board for the privilege accorded to me to serve as the Director of the Seminar.
The main report consists of the final conclusions and recommendations of the Seminar. These have been deliberately set forth in a brief and succinct form so as to facilitate consideration and decisions by the Executive Board and other authorities. The papers contributed by the participants and brief reports of discussions on each topic are, however, also appended for information and reference.
The organisation of the Seminar was in the hands of a Steering Committee consisting of Dr. Mulk Raj Anand, Shri B. Sanyal, Shri B. Sen, Dr. Kalidas Nag and myself, and it is both a duty and a pleasure for me to acknowledge the great debt I owe to their wise guidance and unstinted cooperation. I could not have asked for a more businesslike and helpful Steering Committee. It is, however, only right that I should make it quite clear that the responsibility for the shortcomings in the organisation rests entirely upon me. It is necessary that I should do so because the organisation of the Seminar was somewhat unusual. There were no impressive ceremonies, and the Seminar did not have the honour of being inaugurated by a distinguished personage. There was no advance publicity and the Seminar did not catch the eye of the Press. I have myself sometimes wondered whether this quiet method of conducting the Seminar was wise, for the Seminar failed to make an impact on the public. There was, however, some compensation in the sense of satisfaction among the participants that they had an undisturbed and, therefore, more useful ‘meeting of minds’. I can, therefore, only hope that, while the Seminar failed to catch public attention and the Akadami missed some publicity, the results of this organised and co-ordinated thinking on the part of the leading persons in the field of Art Education, may make a more valuable impact on the thinking of those concerned with Art Education and thus on the future of Art Education in the country.
What purpose did this Seminar serve? I ventured to sum it up in these words at the conclusion of the Seminar:
“What will be the practical outcome of your recommendations? I cannot foretell. That will depend upon how far those concerned find them useful and to what extent their resources and inclination will permit them to imple ment these recommendations. Whatever be the attitude and decision of the authorities concerned, there is much in your recommendations which Art Schools and Art educationists can put into effect even without external assistance, provided there is the will to do so. And even if this much is done, there will be a distinct improvement in Art Education and you will have rendered a signal service.
“In any case, I put it to you that your labours have already been rewarded if you have the satisfaction of a job well done, if you feel that you have offered advice to the country to the best of your judgment and capacity. You will also, I hope, feel amply rewarded by the contact which you have had with each other. For over a week you have sat together, for long hours everyday, exchanging ideas and experiences and testing them against those of the others. Such a rubbing together of minds cannot but enrich one intellectually, and I hope that you feel that this has been a worthwhile experience.”
I should be failing in my duty if I did not also acknowledge my debt of gratitude to the participants in the Seminar each of whom fully pulled his weight, made a notable contribution to the discussions and did so in a remarkable spirit of co-operation which has been a rare and treasured experience for me. It was no formal exchange of courtesies when I said during my concluding remarks:
“I am also grateful to you—and I say this in all sincerity-0for the patience and indulgence you have extended to me throughout the Seminar and for the wonderful way in which you conducted your discussions. Let me make a confession. I was somewhat anxious at the prospect of having to deal in this way with so many distinguished artists, scholars and teachers for over a week. My fears were entirely belied. I can truthfully say that I have rarely had a more agreeable meeting. You have conducted the discussions throughout in a most cordial, friendly and informal and yet businesslike atmosphere. There was never any resentment against my most exacting demands. I could not hope for a more willing and cooperative team. No one seemed to mind who was asked to be the Chairman or Rapporteur; there was a surprising spirit, if I may say so, of relaxed friendliness and comradeship. For all this and more I am thankful to you, and I shall long cherish the very agreeable memories of this companionship and common endeavour.”
I have ventured to quote these words because they were most sincerely spoken and they represent the smallest tribute that I could pay to my colleagues for their truly wonderful cooperation and earnestness of purpose.
The total expenditure in connection with the Seminar, excluding the cost of printing the Report, if it is so decided by the Executive Board, was about Rs. 7,700. No extra staff was employed for the Seminar and this was due to the voluntary help which I received from some colleagues in the Ministry of Education and the assistance from the staff of the Akadami, particularly from Shri S. A. Krishnan. To all of them I owe thanks.
Lastly, I should also perhaps report that while the Seminar was in session it was overtaken by grief because of the sad death of Dr. James H. Cousins, who had rendered such signal service to the cause of Art in India. The Seminar paid its homage to the memory of Dr. Cousins and passed the following resolution:
“All those participating in the Seminar on Art Education, convened by the Lalit Kala Akadami, have learnt with profound regret that Dr. James H. Cousins is no more among us to guide and inspire those who serve the cause of Indian art. They wish to place on record their sense of deep appreciation of the great services rendered to Indian art by the late Dr. Cousins and request the Secretary of the Akadami to convey their feelings of sorrow and their sincere sympathies to the family of Dr. Cousins.”
Seminar on Art Education.
New Delhi, April 16, 1956.