Arangham consciously seeks to create work that "speaks" for the times. The year 2000 saw a major thrust in these programmes.
While some work is being exclusively created for young audiences and to visit Chennai schools using theatre, music and dance to great impact, (Check "SUVVADU" for more details) specially commissioned work is also being done for organisations that seek Arangham's creative support to further their noble efforts of service and rehabilitation of the physically and mentally challenged.
Several Chennai-based NGOs like The Banyan, CAN STOP (Cancer - Support Therapy to Overcome Pain), SCARF (Schizophrenia Research Foundation ), Ability Foundation, NAB (National Association for the Blind), DESH (Deepam Educational Society for Health) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have worked with Anita Ratnam and Arangham Dance Theatre, to forge deeper bonds of love and understanding between patients, family and the general public. Arangham has presented exclusive shows for them in special fund raiser events.
Speaking about this angle to ADT's work, Ratnam says: "It hasn't been a conscious departure. With every passing day and month I ask myself why I am still in the Arts. There are younger, faster, more agile, technology-savvy, professional dancers around. I ask myself what is it that will make my artistic DNA different from theirs
My life has taught me so many things - I have strong feelings and opinions that I don't want to separate from the work I create. And yet, I would hate my work to preach or bludgeon.
Art should leave spaces for questions to be asked, leave striking images in the mind that linger on and onů Mind you, creating art for social awareness is very, very difficult and I find it takes so much more effort too - every image, every word needs to be so carefully chosen and moulded into the work.
All this work has taken time to evolve. SUVVADU happened only now - at this time, after my kids have reached their present awareness. I recognise a whole new set of challenges facing today's teenagers. I know I'm not the first to do it and I won't be the last too. I just feel I'm joining a community of citizen artistes to illuminate pressing concerns that need to be addressed. And it makes me happy!"
Art & Activism focusses on "Art with a Message" - work designed without compromise on aesthetic appeal, to reach out to a wider audience... generate greater awareness... let the heart stir the head and the soul...
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