Harmonising Society through
Arts & Culture

The villagers in rural Andhra are natural artistes, and when RDT began its interactions in Ananthapuram,they found settlements whose inhabitants expressed themselves richly through song and dance. This was the foundationof RDT’s Cultural Sector.


Special Cultural Schools

Training Children with Disabilities

Awareness through Cultural Campaigns

Other Initiatives

With Ananthapuram's caste lines being what they were in those days, song and dance performances were held only in their own settlements. There was no forum to perform for a broader audience, and no access to the classic theatre forums of the time. Their songs and dances were performed locally and set to stories of gods and goddesses and around life-passage activities like marriage rites. So while these villagers- from Dalit, tribal and lower caste communities- had talent, what they lacked was the confidence. They could not articulate their life experiences- which were defined by


servitude, oppression by prosperous, higher-castelandlords. Women and girls were reluctant to participant even in these local performances and only expressed themselves creatively in close family functions.

Seeing that they found it easier and more natural to express themselves through song and dance, rather than by holding conversations about their lives, cultural performances served as RDTs ice-breakers in its early interactions with the rural poor. RDT began its work in the Culture Sector starting with groups of youngsters in 1978. The hope was to set children and youth off on a path of confident self-expression in order for a confident adulthood, unlike that of their elders. Performance was promoted as a tool for personal development and social upliftment. RDT and these youngsters collaborated in putting together songs set to social themes – servitude, bonded labour and hard lives. Working with young boys and men to begin with, women were drawn into the performances later on. Village elders were open to song and dance, and didn't resist RDT's workers interacting with their people to discuss their art forms.

This way, the early Sanghams (collectives) were formed to write and perform songs about social uplift. Using existing art forms, RDT workers helped villagers with lyrics and themes of society's ills and set them in familiar contexts. These performances at the village level opened communities' thinking to the constraints they were bound by, and encouraged them to think of positive solutions out of them. It dawned on villagers gradually that cultural traditions were a tool by which to engage with a broader audience and highlight the need for societal change. The prominent ones were Burrakatha- an oral story-telling form using poetry, drums and solo drama, and Harikatha– dramatic and musical telling of tales of Gods.

By 1985, RDT's cultural sector was organising inter-area competitions in various categories like solo song/dance and group song/dance and drama - the judges were artistes from professional troupes from nearby towns. Also as performances became more evolved, instrumentation went from the local drums Dappu, to Tablas to Harmonium- for which RDT trained select villagers, then keyboards and electronic instruments were introduced. Each year, certain social issues were addressed in these performances. In 2014, the focus was on migration, violence against women and girls, early marriages, girl's education, dowry, ecology, continuation of untouchability in certain settlements, HIV and AIDS, and so on.




Our cultural art forms like folk dance and music hold the rich legac


When it comes to career choices, our society still prefers the new generation


The Cultural Rendezvous for a Better Tomorrow

With enthusiastic support from the villagers the cultural sector has grown from strength to strength in the last 3 decades. ‘Rural children and youth will confront discrimination and exclusion, enhance their self-value and their status in society and gain cohesion, while improving their social and educational development.’

For many years, the over emphasis on education has diminished cultural development amongst children. The cultural sector of RDT, therefore works towards increasing the awareness about the benefits of cultural activities by interacting with parents and school management committees and encouraging participation from all social backgrounds. It will continue to widen the reach of its Special Cultural primary education programme to ensure more students are touched by cultural studies from their formative years.

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