1981-2014: 33 years of RAGAMALA in Seattle (USA) comes to an end soon.
Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on January 17, 2014
Dear listeners of our radio programme for Indian music culture !
… it was a real shocking news. I received on Thursday by Mohan and Ramesh, who are members of the management board of Ragamala (Seattle), the following letter. I only can assume, how diffult it must have been for these passionate connoisseurs – who are settled in the coastal seaport city in the U.S. state of Washington – to spread this sad message out into the world of music lovers, at the beginning of a new year.
Personally I know Ragamala since 2009 and having a broad view onto the “market” of cultural organisations around the globe which are active in organizing concerts for Indian classical music or Festivals for Indian art, so I can say: “Ragamala did an excellent job over the last years as one of the leading NGOs in USA for presenting Indian classical music on stage.”
We (from media side) seriously have to think now about the meaning of this message. Its not just a short statement of one cultural organisation. Its a mirror of the global situation in cultural work. Till spring 2014 we have some few weeks and days to proof seriously at the round table how the future can look and keep alive Indian arts reaching a broader audience.
Warm Regards, ElJay A.
(founder of promotion initiative IMC – India meets Classic)
Dear Ragamala Members and Supporters,
Happy New Year to you all!
Ragamala began this long journey 33 years ago in 1981. Looking back, I can see we have a come a long ways and have achieved everything we set out for ‘advancing the traditional performing arts of South Asia through exceptional programming’ – a mission accomplished! At the time of our formation, Ragamala was a trend-setting organization; in the coming years, others followed in our footsteps and are doing quite well. Ragamala has provided a valuable service and did so with the help from a very dedicated and passionate group of volunteers
Over the span of our existence, Ragamala was able to present well-known artists from not only India but also from South-Asian countries. During the Utsav festivals, local (to the greater Seattle area, as well as other parts of the U.S.) amateur artists were given opportunities to exhibit their talents; this gave them encouragement and increased their confidence.
Ragamala Utsav, Seattle
Ragamala was fortunate to get consistent support from the University of Washington’s Ethnomusicology program, which opened another door of opportunity for us. We worked with them in presenting their visiting artists, and were able to use their great auditoriums for our own concerts for a very reasonable cost.
Over the years Ragamala has also worked with other similar organizations/groups in cosponsoring music/dance recitals, lectures and workshops. Whenever possible, our volunteers would try to spread the word about Ragamala at the co-sponsored events and encourage patrons to become members. At times, the events also led to some of the artists performing for Ragamala in the coming years.
Ragamala always tried to maintain a good blend of North- and South-Indian music – let it be vocal or instrumental, or even in regards to dance performances. Our audiences and hospitality had such a good reputation that artists and troupes wanted to come to Seattle again and again. They spread this word all over India and we received several unsolicited proposals from new and upcoming artists wanting to come to the Pacific Northwest to perform at a Ragamala event.
We are finding that shifting musical trends, declining membership and event attendance and the emergence of other similar organizations have made it a challenge for Ragamala to sustain a high level of prominence in the Seattle arts scene. After many difficult discussions amongst the board members and long-time supporters, we have come to the conclusion that the time has come for Ragamala to bid farewell. In order to show our appreciation to our members and the community, we will close out our existence with two concerts in the spring of 2014 by artists who “grew up” with Ragamala and not only have established their names in the local communities, but are helping promote the tradition of Indian classical music among the younger generation and enthusiasts – this alone gives us a strong sense of pride and a great sense of accomplishment.
While we are of course very sad to say goodbye to this great organization, we are so glad that we have been able to be an influential and inspirational part of the local arts scene. We hope that you continue supporting similar organizations so that the legacy of Ragamala can live on in even a small way. Additionally, we are pleased to announce that any remaining funds of Ragamala will be given to the UW Ethnomusicology department with which to set up a scholarship in Ragamala’s name. The money will go towards helping students learn about Indian classical music and even subsidize trips to India.
On a personal note, we would like to say that we have thoroughly enjoyed our association and involvement with Ragamala over all of these years. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be active participants of this great organization. We would like to thank all dedicated volunteers for their hard work, donors, members and supporters. We could not have made it without you!
Thanks and regards.
Mohan and Ramesh, for Ragamala Board
Please note that whoever has paid 2014 memberships will be contacted for the refunds.