Make space for Mumbai's kids

Fiona FernandezWe can hear the hurrahs and ‘Ayes’ from mid-day’s young readers (and their parents too), as we write this column. It’s been long overdue, but as they say, ‘better late than never’. While December to February is usually peak season as far as Mumbai’s cultural calendar goes, we’ve been witnessing an addition to this packed itinerary in the recent past. In a good way, that is.

Mumbai’s kids — tweens and teens — were, and continue to be spoilt for choice. From book readings to puppetry sessions, music and art workshops to nature trails and robotics camps around the city, we are in the middle of boom time. What is particularly refreshing these past few years has been the out-of-the-box thinking as far as ideating for such events are concerned. Plenty of thought from the right folks seems to be ensuring that such festivals and calendars offer a slice of everything, for every kind of young, impressionable mind — from the fun and games to the information and education, and thankfully, no preachy classroom-like setups.

We are seeing a flurry of activity that isn’t just confined to the indoors but also spread across green and open spaces. Again, it is gratifying to see different parts of the city get involved in hosting these events. From Mumbai’s museums to its bookstores, it’s fantastic to note that our kids are finally getting their due in a city that is crying out loud for interesting avenues to engage this generation. This is just the start, however. And we hope this is a sign of the times. Funds, sponsors (more like the lack of these), venues, organising talent who are willing to stick their neck out in such a high-risk area — the challenges are countless, as any organiser will openly tell you. More reason why, we would like to see bigger crowds come out in support in the coming years. And, better funding for such ideas.

However, what we would desperately like, in the larger picture for Mumbai, is an integrated space for our children. From the arts, to film, culture, dance and music, to heritage and nature — and backed with supportive corporate funding — this venue can become a buzzing nerve centre, a fantastic addition to Mumbai’s cultural landscape. The possibilities are immense, especially with a talent pool that is spilling over, and waiting to be tapped.

Surely Mumbai deserves this more than just another new mall in the neighbourhood. We’ll be watching...

The writer is Features Editor of mid-day

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