Field Notes

Program Report: Centre for Arts and Social Practice (CASP), India

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Photo: Derdh Guna Derdh / Community art project with rural migrants at Shankar Camp, New Delhi, 2015

The topic of sustainability has attracted much interest in recent times in the context of development discourses and policies. However, environmental, economic, and social sustainability has been discussed more than the cultural dimensions of sustainability where arts and aesthetics play a major role. Scholars now suggest that culture should be a core aspect of sustainable development and cultural producers and art institutions can embody values to create intergenerational equity and ethical perspectives of living in our world. While the term ‘culture’ is often debated, it must be understood as a ‘whole way of life’ and cultural strategies as modules for long-term sustainability of diverse communities, worldviews and practices.

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Photo: Conversations Series | Public talk by the artist, Navjot Altaf, Pune, 2016

The idea of art as a ‘collaborative endeavor’ is embedded in its capacity to inculcate socially significant values of creativity, empathy and connections between humans, both tangible and intangible. Such collaboration and participation involves working with people from diverse backgrounds and fields beyond the elitist matrix of the art gallery or museum. Embedding cultural strategies within social contexts call for dialogues with citizens and communities and employing art as an agency of collective imagination. This also means research based modules to develop learning methodologies on sustainable thinking and practices essential for our contemporary world.

It is within these conceptual and contextual parameters that the Centre for Arts and Social Practice (CASP – India) was established in 2013. CASP is a transdisciplinary platform for national and international artists, writers, architects, social scientists and design engineers to facilitate critical dialogues on cultural sustainability. It aims to integrate research and practice through meaningful community initiatives and collaborative projects, fostering a relational engagement at both individual and institutional levels.

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Photo: Community mural painting with art college students at Shukratal, Uttar Pradesh, India.

As a young organization, CASP supports research based artistic projects and community initiatives. It encourages collaborations between individual, institutions and communities. CASP generates dialogues around the rural-urban binaries to address the issues of habitat fragmentation, displacement and cultural degeneration due to urbanization.

A non-profit initiative, it works through four chapters in Navi Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune and New Delhi (India). Since its inception, CASP has facilitated around 25 programs/projects (workshops, conversations, community art initiatives, public art projects and social actions) with children, students, women, teachers, migrant communities, artists, filmmakers and socially engaged practitioners. It has generated dialogues in home-studios and public spaces, informal neighborhoods and a research centre, including an ongoing partnership with a local experimental art space.


Completed since 2013 | 4 chapters

  • 8 Conversations Series | Kolkata and Pune
  • 12 workshops  | Navi Mumbai, Pune, and New Delhi
  • 3 community art projects | Pune, Kolkata and New Delhi
  • 2 public art installations/exhibition | Residency (Kushtia -Bangladesh) and Pune Biennale – India
  • Citizen Design Lab | Urban terrace garden project (ongoing) – Navi Mumbai, India.
  • 1 international collaborative project | Social Sculpture Research Unit (SSRU), Oxford Brookes University, UK.
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Linear Extension | Workshop at New City Limits Collective, Belapur, Navi Mumbai, India, 2013

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Workshop at Basti Vikas Kendra with children from urban village at Begumpur, Delhi, India, 2015.

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Workshop at Basti Vikas Kendra with children from urban village at Begumpur, Delhi, India, 2015.

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Workshop with Teachers from Zila Parishad schools (District schools) in Maharashtra, 2016.

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Workshop with students from Municipal Corporation School in Pune, India, 2015.