Chennai joins UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network

In news:

Chennai has become the third Indian city to be a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, after Varanasi and Jaipur. Chennai got the tag for its contribution to music. Varanasi was added to the list as a city of music and Jaipur, as the city of crafts.

What does the Creative Cities tag mean? 

According to the UNESCO website, ‘the Creative Cities Network was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.’

“The cities in the network work together towards a common objective: placing creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans at the local level and cooperating actively at the international level.”

Chennai has given India Carnatic vocalists legends like M S Subbulakshmi, Bombay Jayashri, M Balamuralikrishnan, T M Krishna, Aruna Sairam among others. There’s no doubt about the fact that the city has preserved its cultural heritage quite well.

Mumbai and Lucknow missed the bus earlier this year since the ministry failed to submit the required dossier on time. On one hand, where Mumbai is known for its film industry, the city of Nawabs, Lucknow is known for its popular gastronomical delight, tundey kebabs.

 

Does Chennai do justice to the tag?  

  • The UNESCO website talks about ‘creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development’.
  • These tags and jargon often result in commodification of the cities, which results in degradation of a place’s cultural, social as well as traditional ethos, with time.
  • In this context, it is important to understand that the announcement of Chennai joining the Creative Cities Network emphasizes the need for its cultural community to engage even more with the other sections of the society.
  • It calls for artists to bring forth city’s infrastructural as well as social problems to the front through art.
  • Chennai also organised the second edition of the counter-culture movement, Urur Olcott Kuppam Marghazi Vizhain February this year. A brainchild of T M Krishna, the festival brought together musicians, academicians, environmental and social activists and fishermen at one place to challenge the idea of a specific socio-cultural space that each community occupies otherwise and thus, breaking out of their comfort zones.

More about Chennai:

  • Though Margazhi month sabhas and Mylapore kutcheris have left an indelible mark on the cities musical landscape, music in Chennai, or rather Madras is more than just that. The Madras music’s soul is as active in Oscar hero Rahman’s piano medleys as in the beats of the tharai thappattais during a funeral procession.
  • If Balamuralikrishna and T M Krishna can bring you to tears with their vocals, so can Gaana Bala and Thanjai Selvi. Cine music, gana paatu and Carnatic music practitioners may not exactly see eye to eye, but for an average music aficionado in the city, the music goes hand in hand. This is the uniqueness of Chennai’s rich and diverse music culture.
  • Filmi music
    It can even be argued that it was MSV’s music which gave life to Kannadaasan and Vaali’s lyrics and made MGR the Chief Minister of the State. Such is the power of filmi music in Tamilnadu. It is Chennai’s rich music heritage that has created two of the most prominent music composers of our times – Ilayaraja and A R Rahman. ‘Ala Poraan Thamizhan’, has come true with regards to Chennai’s music at least.
  • Folk music
    Chennai’s dabbang kuthu is the heart beat of the city. It can be heard in street corners, funerals, college fests. It might probably be the only type of music which can be used to express sorrow as well as joy. The integration of dabbang kuthu into the films has kept alive Chennai’s very own unique music sub-culture.
  • Ancient Tamil Music
    The tradition of Tamil music in Chennai goes 1000s of years back. Many poems of the of Sangam literature were set to music. The songs and inscriptions of the Saiva saints like Appar, Thirumoolar, Thirugnaana Sambandhar and the hymns of the Thevaram and Thiruvasagam can be seen at the 1000 year old Parthasarathy temple.
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