What We're Reading: Leela Dance Collective Announces $1 Million Endowment Fund

From Leela Dance Collective: Leela Dance Collective, the Los Angeles-based internationally-touring kathak dance company that combines classical dance from North India with contemporary influences, announces today that it has reached its initial $1 million goal for The Leela Foundation. This endowment fund is the only one of its kind, designed to support the future of kathak dance and Hindustani classical music in the United States.

In 2020, The Leela Foundation granted inaugural Artist Awards, providing direct support to some of today’s leading musicians.These first Artist Awards were presented to artists Jayanta Banerjee, sitarist, musician and composer; Ben Kunin, sarod artist and senior disciple of the maestro, Ud. Ali Akbar Khan; Debashis Sarkar (posthumously), vocalist and musician; and Satyaprakash Mishra, tabla percussionist. In 2021 the fund supported three kathak dance artists: Gretchen Hayden, Joanna DeSouza, and Madhuri Devi Singh. In 2022, The Leela Foundation supported bansuri artist Jay Gandhi (Hindustani flute).

“A $1 million endowment is modest in the world of philanthropy and Western fine arts, but huge for our field of kathak and Hindustani classical music,” continued Mehta. “So many incredibly talented and acclaimed classical Indian dance and music artists struggle to support their artistry and lives financially. This endowment fund aims to provide artists with the support they need to thrive and advance these art forms. Without such support, these artists and artistic traditions are at risk. I know this is just the beginning for what our community can build together, to secure and grow the future of our art form. We are so incredibly grateful to the individuals and funders who have helped us reach this initial goal.”

“Leela Dance Collective is one of the very few professional touring companies elevating classical Indian dance and music on the world stage,” commented Shirish Dayal, Executive Vice President of the Tarsadia Foundation. “We believe in their mission to advance and sustain cultural traditions and strengthen infrastructure for kathak dance and Hindustani classical music, and are proud to provide lead support for The Leela Foundation.”

Read the full announcement here.