The Seagull Foundation for the Arts

Theatre Development

Grant Period: Over two years

The Seagull Foundation for the Arts came into being in 1987. Some of the practitioners of 'The Arts' wanted to share the practices, impulses, skills, responses to the world. Their ability to document arts processes in the course of their evolution, acumen to raise resources that supported the arts with a larger body of people, with readers, with entire communities of interested listeners was the primary goal.

Over the past ten years, 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 been responsible also for subscriber relations and for promoting the journal. Too few people performing too many tasks has meant that insufficient attention has been given to marketing and building a distribution network for the journal; expanding its base of subscribers and developing other strategies to mobilise resources for it; and putting in place a proper content generating network and a mechanism for feedback from readers. For some time now, staff at Seagull have 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.

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 – towards staff salaries, travel, production and promotion – over five years. However, Seagull also tried making an effort to raise funds through presenting theatre and music events. Monies raised in addition to what is needed to underwrite the costs of STQ in any year will go towards the corpus fund. 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.

Seagull proposed to set STQ on a new and different course. The project began well enough but however the print issue of STQ did not come out as planned. Matters internal as well as external to SFA account for the failure of the grant. They could not give STQ the direction they believed it should take. Thus, this file was closed and the amount given to SFA was returned to IFA.