The Seagull Foundation for the Arts

Theatre Development

Grant Period: Over five years

Over the past decade, the Seagull Theatre Quarterly (STQ) has given priority to the voice of theatre practitioners, focusing on their creative processes, theatre practices and oral histories. As a result, it has succeeded in creating a reservoir of documentation that can be classified as ‘primary material’ – material that researchers use regularly for their writings on contemporary Indian theatre practice. Unlike most other journals, which are wholly or partially supported by a university or a university press, STQ is promoted and managed by the Seagull Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit organisation. To save costs, STQ has hitherto been edited, designed and produced by the same team that produces Seagull’s books. They have also been responsible for subscriber relations and for promoting the journal. Few people performing many tasks has meant that insufficient attention has been given to marketing and building a distribution network for the journal. For some time now, Seagull staff has felt not only a sense of being out of touch with potential and existing readership, but also dissatisfied with some of the content being generated for the journal.

Seagull proposes now to set STQ on a new and different course. To begin with, they will invite theatre artists, playwrights and critics from across the country to a brainstorming meeting to help re-envision the journal and set up an all-India editorial board. Concurrently, steps will be taken to put in place an independent, full-time editorial and production team, and appoint regional representatives to cover day-to-day theatre practice across India more regularly and in depth.  Seagull has also developed a business plan to increase subscriptions, pursue other avenues for raising funds for the journal, and generate a corpus fund of some substance. This grant, apart from paying for the travel of individuals invited to participate in the re-envisioning exercise, will underwrite almost 49 per cent of STQ’s costs over five years. Seagull will be required to draw on grant funds to decrease amounts every year. Rs 10 lakh will be available to them in the first year, which will slide down to 6 in the fifth year. Seagull will need to raise around Rs 42 lakh to cover the shortfall over this period.

Sale of the journal through the Seagull website is expected to yield Rs 25,000 annually. Seagull plans to make up the rest of the shortfall through advertising revenue and small and large fundraisers. The auction and sale of paintings – particularly of highly sought after artists like K. G. Subramanyan, Somnath Hore and Chittrovanu Mazumdar, whose work Seagull has promoted and exhibited for many years – will make the largest single contribution to meeting the deficit. Seagull will also make an effort to raise funds through presenting theatre and music events. If they follow through with their fundraising plans, Seagull will generate close to Rs 20 lakh for STQ from the abovementioned sources in the first year. Should Seagull succeed in creating a corpus of Rs 50 lakh in five years, IFA has agreed to provide a matching endowment grant for STQ.