Origin & Aims
The Nataraj Cultural Centre, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2010, was set up in 1980 and incorporated as a non profit-making society in 1983. The Centre owes its inspiration to the magnificent India International Centre, New Delhi. Its main aims are:
(a) to promote the study and performance of the classical music of India in order to create stronger cultural ties between Australia (and New Zealand) and India;
(b) to look after the cultural needs of settlers from South Asia and of other interested Australians and New Zealanders.
To that end, the Centre provides facilities for the study of both Hindustani and Carnatic music, by way of short-term courses and workshops by eminent visiting musicians.
The Centre’s main arts and other activities are the SPIRIT of INDIA concerts, the SPIRIT of INDIA cultural tours, and ‘Focus on India’ seminars.
The Centre stands on a 6-acre property in Panton Hill, on the outskirts of Melbourne – 45 minutes’ drive – in idyllic surroundings, with views of the Great Dividing Range. It is a large, well furnished, tastefully renovated old English-style house with a small orchard and front garden, with all modern facilities.
SPIRIT of INDIA Program
Outstanding Indian classical musicians (Hindustani and Camatac) and dancers are presented in association with major Australian & New Zealand arts organisations, like the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne Arts Centre, The EDGE (Auckland), and international festivals and Womadelaide, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland and New Zealand. Major regional venues in both Australia and New Zealand are often included in the concert tour schedules.
Our invited artists are presented and promoted in the same way as major Western artists are, and each concert tour (8 to 10 concerts) costs the Centre and its co-presenters between $120,000 and $150,000 to run, most of which is spent on promotion and venue hire. We hire the best possible venues, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Arts Centre in Melbourne. The deficits are met with grants and tax-deductable donations. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi, is the major sponsor for our programs providing air fares for the invited artists. We have received generous support from the Australia-India Council, Canberra and from the Playking Foundation, Melbourne.
The Centre has invited since 1980 a galaxy of eminent musicians and dancers, some more than once. The Kerala Kalamandalam company will be touring Australia and New Zealand for us in 2010. An understanding of India’s rich cultural heritage is vital to the development of economic and cultural ties with South Asia. SPIRIT of INDIA is designed to provide the ordinary Australian and New Zealand concert-goer with access to that heritage.
“SPIRIT of INDIA program… allows wonderful
opportunities to see and hear artists who are the equals of
the very best in the world.” Sydney Morning Herald
“SPIRIT of INDIA musicians and dancers…
comparable to putting Sutherland, Woodward, Tuckwell,
The Advertiser (’88 Adelaide Festival)
INNOCENT RAPTURE IN RAGAS
“For 25 years, Mohindar Dhillon, based in
Melbourne, has been quietly enriching Australian culture by
presenting some of the best of India’s classical musicians.
He set up the Nataraj Cultural Centre in 1980 and
with the support of philanthropist Carrillo Gantner and
a former director of the Adelaide and Sydney festivals,
Anthony Steel, has been able to tour his artists throughout
Australia and New Zealand. These musicians have challenged
Western perceptions of what is beautiful and dramatic with
the mysterious intensity of their ancient ragas.’’
Anna King Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald