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Take to the streets for arts

Thanks to the National Streets for Performing Arts (NSPA), your daily commute will get an infusion of music. Founded by fund manager Ajit Dayal, the vision behind NSPA is to utilise public spaces as an alternative platform for performances and create spaces for cultural interaction.

Towards this end, they have collaborated with the Western Railways (Mumbai division) to host weekly performances across the day at three stations — Churchgate, Borivali and Bandra on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. NSPA has been founded under the aegis of HelpYourNGO.com and the line-up of performances and musicians is uploaded on their website.


Performers Smit Dharia and KK Singh

Dayal grew up watching street performers in Mumbai and had observed the culture of street performances in London and Paris. With his team at NSPA, he hopes to introduce such events to brighten up the daily commute.

Shrishti Iyer, performance co-ordinator, says, “The idea is to reclaim and retain public spaces, like railway stations, parks or streets for cultural activities and thus make it accessible to citizens, instead of limiting the arts to an auditorium or a hall. Plus, it’s also about supporting livelihoods of independent performers across genres.”

The pilot performance that lasted 30-minutes, was held at Churchgate on June 27. “The railways are a lifeline for Mumbaikars, and we were curious to see the response to such an initiative; the thumbs-up from commuters gave us the push to go ahead,” adds Iyer.

For getting permission, NSPA had to approach the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF). Next up is to stage the shows across the Central and Harbour lines and take it to public parks and gardens, and eventually, to other cities.

Their line-up includes a mix of Hindustani, Classical, instrumental as well as Pahadi and Marathi Folk music as well as new-age sounds from the saxophone to the guitar. The NSPA chose music to begin with due to logistics but they hope to diversify to other arts. They don’t encourage commuters to tip as performers are paid a fixed rate. The next few weeks will include performances by Imli Imchen, Three’s Company and K Dakshinamurthy.

Being a non-profit initiative, it follows a minimum set-up. People are encouraged to jam with performers too. “At performances, we noticed that the audience is disciplined and didn’t disturb (artistes perform without mikes). While some waited for the entire duration, many would wait till their train arrived. It’s a back-to-basics approach just like in the past when artists would perform under trees at the chowks,” she concludes.

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