Indian-American couple gifts Kennedy Centre $1 mn for India fund

Washington, Dec 6
An Indian-American couple has gifted $1 million to the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts to create an India Fund for producing and presenting Indian programming through 2025.

The gift from entrepreneur Ranvir Trehan, a leading Indian-American patron of the arts, his wife Adarsh and their Trehan Foundation would provide seed money for the fund.

"Our idea," said Trehan, a member of the Kennedy Centre's Board of Trustees, "is that there is reinforced programming - that there is more of it, both well-known artists as well as experimental forms, fusion forms.

"Now I see in India, there is also comedy in the English language that is coming up and so, maybe there is something to tap up."

The seed money, he hoped, would inspire others' gifts, particularly from his Indian-American colleagues on the board.

"The India Fund will exclusively be used to create and present performing arts, artistic exhibits and/or festivals showcasing the history, traditions, literature, music, dance and/or culture of India," said the Kennedy Centre
president Deborah F. Rutter.

"The intent of the India Fund is to be 'country focused' on India the current nation state of India and the programming is intended to utilise established and/or emerging artists, singers, musicians or other performers
or performance creators who are either citizens of India or whose ancestry is from India," he said.

"Contemporary and experimental art that may appeal to wider audiences is to be included," said Trehan. "While we will be offering consultation to the Kennedy Centre as requested, the programming decision will be theirs."

Noting that Indian arts are at a "very interesting phase", India's Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna called the Trehans' initiative "the encouragement that we need".

"We have multiple streams, and particularly for a country like the United States, there is no dearth of groups either travelling here or being sent here," he said about the expected collaborations with the centre.

"I believe that in a diverse country as ours, it's important for people to be exposed to these cultures because aside from goodwill it helps to break the walls of prejudice," said Adarsh Trehan.

Alicia Adams, vice president for international programming, who had coordinated and choreographed The Maximum India festival, said the gift will help bring back some of the artists featured in that festival.

Drawing some 400,000 people, the three-week festival was a Kennedy Centre record for a country-specific cultural festival.

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