The Natural Streets for Performing Arts (NSPA Foundation) is a non-profit initiative dedicated to bringing the culture of street performances to India, and supporting the livelihoods of independent artists - and helping the common man rediscover public spaces and "stuff their eyes with wonder".
The world of performing arts - music, dance, theatre - has always been about just two entities - the performer and the audience. By re-imagining spaces like railway stations, park and gardens, seaside promenades, street markets and bazaars, schools, libraries and cafes, the NSPA attempts to give the street performer and the community a platform to express themselves and celebrate one another. Treating the community to performances and to workshops (as part of our Art Literacy mission) will, we hope, result in an increased appreciation for the arts.
The organisation was founded in the October of 2012 in Mumbai, and we enjoyed our debut performance at Churchgate Station with folk street musicians, who received the astonishment and accolades of the commuters and pedestrians! We now perform at over a dozen public venues in Mumbai - including the Carter Road Amphi theatre, Mumbai Metro stations, and several parks and organic farmers' markets - for more than 50 hours a week!
We pride in our insatiable thirst for discovery, and make it our business to discover new artists - may they be musicians, dancers, or theatre artists, among others - and get our audiences to discover new performances. We're also able to contribute to the livelihoods of our resident artists, and thus encourage their talents and future artistic pursuits.
You can stay updated about upcoming street performances from our Facebook page , and check out our live performance videos on our YouTube channel. We're soon starting NSPA projects in Bangalore as well, so stay tuned!
Art for All
All for Artist
In the beginning, Art was everywhere- on the streets, on stage, part of people’s homes and lives. Street performers across diverse genres lit up many a by-lane and junction in Mumbai’s bustling street life. However, over the decades, these dynamic performers gradually disappeared off the street corners. One may relive this joy, if at all, selectively on trips abroad to major cities of the world that continue to nurture such artists and thriving cultures of street art.
NSPA is an attempt at rekindling this vanishing culture across the frenzied roads of India. Born out of the initiative of our founder Ajit Dayal, NSPA was first conceived when Ajit found no buyers for his idea of taking Art to the Streets. Two young music aficionados joined hands temporarily with Ajit and first pitched the idea to the Western Railways, Mumbai. Contrary to popular perception, the Railways were most enthusiastic and suggested a pilot run to test the idea.
Pilot and Launch
Accordingly, NSPA made a guest appearance at Churchgate Station, Mumbai on a cheery weekday evening on June 27, 2012 between 5 and 6 pm hosting two brief musical performances. Jishnu ‘Short-round’ Guha, a passionate busker (street performer) since his student days in England, opened with Alternative Folk-Rock followed by Suresh Kala presenting rustic Uttaranchali Folk melodies. They were greeted by friendly and enthusiastic audiences who lingered on post-performance to interact with the artists and organizers.
This reassuring response encouraged both the railways and the team to go back to the drawing board and embark this time on a comprehensive performance plan to drive the initiative ahead. In came a passionate new team who retreated into a cubby hole emerging two months later to unveil NSPA on the buzzing streets of Mumbai in October 2012. Twelve enterprising artists across musical genres took a leap of faith with us propelling NSPA’s journey to soaring heights since the very debut.
NSPA was inundated by the press and commuters in their generous appreciation. We began with three stations on the Western Rail Network - Churchgate, Bandra and Borivali - performing three days of music across a week. Within a month of our launch, NSPA artists began receiving invitations to perform on prestigious stages across the city including Indikaliedo Festival, BMW Guggenheim Lab, TedX Masala and Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2013 to name a few.
With the arrival of spring, NSPA blossomed on the Central Rail Network introducing performances at CST, Dadar and Vashi stations as well as Horniman Circle Gardens at Fort, Mumbai. Nine months down the line, NSPA is twenty-two artists strong performing 23 hours of music a week, Monday-Saturday across 5 locations in the city. As the monsoons beckon, NSPA is challenged to renegotiate its performances with the public spaces of the city and continue its flight into a new phase of our performance calendar.
Person X: “So what’s your revenue model?”
NSPA Team: “We don’t have a revenue model!”
We’ve lost count of how many people have been baffled by the above response. However, in plain speak, ‘busking’/ street performances is not top priority even altogether unnecessary to premier Art institutions/ artists. Public spaces in modern cities are scarce and performances therein, if any, are either experimentations, publicity ploys or a desperate means for marginalized artists to earn a livelihood. There have been few buyers for the idea of democratizing spaces for the Arts in the recent past.
NSPA was seeded as a project under the aegis of our parent company HelpYourNGO.com India Private Limited. All our funds for the first financial year were invested by our founder Mr. Ajit Dayal.
Two months into performances and we found our first Sponsor in Quantum Asset Management Company (or Quantum AMC)- an institution that is distinguished in the Indian financial market for its scrupulous credibility and transparent functioning.
Quantum AMC, a 7 year old organization, is is known for its radical thinking and foresight in the country’s financial sector. Passionately committing itself to doing only what is best for the investor ethically and transparently; Quantum AMC has always stood for what they believe is the right thing. Quantum Mutual Fund is India’s first dedicated, direct-to-investor mutual fund. They refused to be a part of a system that encouraged an opaque distribution channel and till date does not pay any commissions that eat into investors’ savings but instead developed and directly sold simple financial products that are beneficial to small and big savers.
Quantum AMC has also been a keen supporter of the Arts, always setting aside a portion of its earnings to sponsor diverse Arts initiatives in the country. NSPA and QAMC found common ground in their shared zeal to take the path less trodden and break new ground in developing a body of work that was built on the power of ideas and commitment to the larger welfare of society. Quantum AMC, today, is not just a source of funds for NSPA but more so a great source of encouragement and faith in what we do.
Quantum AMC therefore takes great pride in sponsoring NSPA and helping it achieve its noble goal of taking Art to the people.
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