The Sabha itself was a product of colonial times. When the patronage of royalty and aristocracy was vital for the survival of the arts, a new city like Madras posed challenges – the ruling elite was English and had no intention to support artistes. The aristocracy, namely the dubashes or translators, provided the necessary support from the 17th century onwards. In the 19th century, new classes of wealthy professionals – lawyers, businessmen, doctors, and accountants – took over, with the support of Indians in Government who were the closest to what could be termed royalty in an egalitarian city. That saw the birth of the Sabhas – a group of wealthy patrons getting together to support the arts by way of providing venues and performing opportunities for artistes. Beginning with Madras city, the concept of the Sabha as a cultural patron spread to other towns in the Presidency. […]
Today we associate the Sabhas most closely with classical music and dance.
The decades immediately after Independence were the best for the Sabhas. Faced with the end of princely patronage and the simultaneous onslaught of cinema, musicians and dancers looked to the Sabhas for support. There were plenty of opportunities – the Sabhas did not operate just in December. […]
Post Covid, there are two probable scenarios […]
Source: “The Sabha-s at the crossroads” by Sriram V., December 1, 2022
Date Visited: 1 March 2023
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