Kala Academy (Charles Correa Now)
Kala Academy, India

Kala Academy is a cultural centre located on along the Mandovi River in the Capital of Goa on over 10,500 sqm of land. It offers facilities for artists. The site include a 2000-seat open-air amphitheatre; a 1000 seat auditorium; meeting rooms; classrooms; lounges; rehearsal rooms; a cafeteria; and a block of administrative offices. The ground floor is dedicated to the public and the first floor to academics and administration.


Now an iconic landmark, Kala Academy has hosted writers, artists, filmmakers, media and even politicians for various events ranging from film festivals to classical music concerts.


During a visit to her House, Monika Correa told me how the project came into being. "It was during Pratap Singh Rane's(1) time, and he was interested in Indian music. He knew that Goa had very nice Indian musicians like Lata Mangeshkar's (2) father, etc., and that it had excellent western musicians. So he felt the need for an academy in the city. That's why it was called Kala Academy." Kala Academy became a site of confluence between Eastern and Western culture.


Monika Correa also mentioned that Kala Academy was Charles Correa's first attempt to design a performing arts centre, narrating the story of its design process; "What bothered him (Charles) was the acoustics. He met a professor from MIT who was going to Bali via Bombay for Buckminster Fuller(3). Charles went to him and told him about this project and asked if he was interested. He also told him that he wouldn't be able to afford his fees. Bob (the professor) said, 'Charles, for you, I would do it for free!' The next day he came over, and the chief minister was thrilled. He received a big welcome with a brass dia(lamp) as a gift." 


Acoustics dictated the shape of the Kala academy. The professor suggested using acoustic panels in the auditorium to absorb sound in a shape lent itself to the balconies. Later, Correa asked Mario Miranda (4) to paint them. They also added a false ceiling painted by Bhiwandker, the Mumbai- based artists who did the Cidade de Goa. "They painted it as a forest, so when the lights went off, some lights stayed on at the door and ceiling," she adds.


Correa worked closely with Bhiwandker on the artwork. According to Monika Correa, "Charles had spent a lot of time on them. So in Cidade de Goa, in the earlier paintings, Charles sat with him and had asked "do this softer here". Later, when they did the restoration, they invited him again, but Charles was no longer there to oversee. Hence the results came out differently."


Since 2019 the building has been embroiled in one of the most significant controversies related to the conservation of buildings in India. The Arts and Culture Minister of Goa at the time announced it would be demolished and rebuilt. That initiated a widespread public campaign and subsequent litigation. Very recently, as I am writing this on July 11th, 2021, the Goan government informed the court that they will not demolish "any structures in the Kala Academy complex, including the open-air auditorium, but they will undertake structural repairs, and even renovation works for the preservation of the complex."


Talking about the changes in building over time, Monika Correa said that the false ceiling, which was painted like a forest, was removed after its renovation in 2004, "It was for the first film festival, they had to change the acoustics to deal with film and not just music, so they had to change the false ceiling, and the forest was gone. Which in Goa happens often, the forests are gone."


-Nipun Prabhakar, 2021


NOTES:

1) Pratapsingh Raoji Rane is an Indian politician who has served as the Chief Minister of Goa six times. He has been a Member of Legislative Assembly, Goa for over 50 years. (VIAF: http://viaf.org/viaf/36357622)


2) Lata Mangeshkar (28 September 1929-6 February 2022) was one of India's best known singers, as well as a composer and philanthropist. (VIAF: http://viaf.org/viaf/15578255).


3) R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, critic of work and futurist. (VIAF: http://viaf.org/viaf/36898370)


4) Mario Miranda (2 May 1926 – 11 December 2011) was a painter and cartoonist based in Goa. (VIAF: http://viaf.org/viaf/79213055)

Location
Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, opp. Kala Academy, Campal, Panaji, Kala Academy, India
Images & Videos
Documents
Associated Names
Associated Collections
Events
1973-1983
Variant Names
Kala Academy (Charles Correa Now)
कला अकादमी
Building Usages
cultural center
public/cultural