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Participatory art as a holistic experience - In conversation with Christine Matovich

‘’Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.’’ I quote Oscar Wilde here to justify a simple point that art is the expression of the self. People praise or criticise artists based on their work and seldom the creative process behind it. Participatory art grants you the opportunity to be able to view an artistic expression through a holistic lens.

In our latest confab with art administrator and music educator Christine Matovich, who has also been a tenacious supporter of our personalised art programmes with professionals, we explored this thought to its fullest extent leaving you with an open-ended discussion.

1. You have been part of four Culture Fox music programmes, how did you like the experience and was it beneficial for the students?

The experience was so excellent that students have agreed on giving multiple performances based on their expertise. These art programmes leave an indelible mark on the students and aspiring artists who wish to take their learning to the next, more meaningful level.

‘’Students who didn’t take music so seriously before are now finding significant value in it.’’

2. As someone who promotes arts as a viable career option, what was unique about these programmes?

For the students, the biggest breakthrough was venturing out of their comfort zone and into the real world of artists. They were able to see and connect with the struggles of becoming a musician and understanding the power of a music instrument.

3. What is your ultimate takeaway from these music programmes?

The ultimate takeaway has to be the behind the scenes approach. Engaging conversations with artists and professionals help you discover what does it take to build an institution or to be a stage manager, or a scheduling manager. To understand arts as a whole, one must look at the administration side of it. Students that are about to start college or are looking at their art as a viable career option can benefit from these hands-on learning experiences. Parents who show notable levels of resistance towards arts is because they haven’t seen a full picture. A holistic experience promises to move you beyond observation and performance where you unveil the fact that several different careers were assembled to execute performances on a global scale.

4. Do you think art education should be an essential part of the academic curriculum?

Yes. You need to engage students in real life experiences and help them develop a connection with professionals who are both improving and challenging different facets of being an artist. Aspiring artists must persevere towards the betterment of society through their respective art.

‘’Parents who show notable levels of resistance towards arts is because they haven’t seen a full picture.’’

5. You have been on four music programmes with Culture Fox, the American Embassy School, Delhi and Keystone Academy, Beijing respectively. Could you highlight a few similarities or difference that the two school groups exhibit?

Apples to oranges. American Embassy School is an international school with students representing different countries and backgrounds. In China, students are lucky to experience these out-of-curriculum art programmes that their parents couldn’t even think of 5 years ago. These students are pioneers and will grow torrentially. Unlike AES, where international programmes are highly developed, China is still developing and opening itself to the world.

6. What do you think is missing from these music programmes?

Diaspora in a new demographic would make these art programmes more relatable. There is an urgent need to move beyond the traditional use of western instruments and form succinct connections by adding instruments from multiple cultures. Nothing is really that difficult if you truly embrace your new immigration. This open exchange between the professionals and students is a much-needed cultural revolution.

7. Do you think there is a high influence on western art in India and China?

Influence is inevitable but what’s more important is not to dissolve own cultural values. Keeping individuality intact in a global society is crucial.

‘’Nothing is really that difficult if you truly embrace your new immigration.’’

8. On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate these experiences?

It was above and beyond their (the students) expectations.

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