Here are a few important milestones in the young life of Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram.

Visva Kala Sangamam

A  Workshop of Veteran  Artistes in  diverse streams of art was the first major venture undertaken by the Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram (CSK). The grand  event  named ‘Viswa Kala Sangamam (2001)’ was a  three-week-long affair during which artistes from Canada, Japan and  South Korea  worked and lived side by side a  sizeable contingent from India, more  like a large family. While the visitors from abroad  busied themselves chiseling out enchanting forms and shapes from  huge granite blocks  right in  front of a curious  but appreciative crowd,  virtually uninterrupted items of entertainment went on  elsewhere in the Park.  The Indian  artistes presented delightful numbers of  dance and music (both classical and light varieties),  chavittunatakam, koothu,  kathakali and so on,  maintaining  a carnival atmosphere  during the period.

Lecture demonstrations by  the master-sculptors from abroad  were a big draw and contributed in no small measure to the unqualified success of the Viswa Kala Samagamam.  Some of the fascinating  figures sculpted at  the  time  as a labour of love by the  artistes  continue to adorn  the premises of CSK like a sweet  memory of the  great event.

Children’s  Art  Workshop

The following  year (2002) another  three-week cultural  extravaganza  was organized  with special emphasis  on children’s participation.    Painting and music classes for those interested  were conducted under renowned masters. The active involvement of  several participants, young and old, made the endeavour a resounding success. Watching  Artist Namboodiri creating  instant  images of  numerous kathakali  characters in black and white  was  an  unforgettable experience. The illusion of motion in  his simple, light strokes was  arresting enough.  Other highlights of the programme  included anecdotal lectures by two  distinguished  painters, M.V. Devan and C. Karunakaran, on Kerala’s contemporary art scene.

Those  creative initial years  sprouted  radical  ideas like  having regular music recitals by budding artistes as well as  reputed masters, periodic kathakali performances and drama festivals and so on.  These ideas have since taken concrete  forms and are growing, drawing  good  public support and participation. One major  factor for  the heartening  popularity  of  CSK is that all  its programmes are totally free to the public  and all the facilities that exist at the Park  are made  freely  available to those who seek  them—like,  for example, for schools  to hold their annual functions, for  amateur theatre groups  to  stage their performances and  for  arrangetoms  of  budding artistes. What is even more salutary, CSK is open to new ideas.

CSK  crossed a  new milestone in 2008 when Kerala Kala Mandalam chose it to inaugurate its much-acclaimed ‘Noorarang’ programme (100 kathakali performances) which was to be staged  along the length and breadth of the state. It is a measure of the  high esteem  in which  CSK is held  by its peers.

Similarly  it  was simply flattering  when in  2008  the Ernakulam Press Club together with  the prestigious National School of Drama  selected  CSK  to present a nine-day drama festival in honour of  Kavalam Narayana Panicker, the  doyen of Malayalam stage, on his 80th birthday.  The celebration also marked the 40th anniversary of the  Press Club. The festival was a huge affair in  which workshops and  discussions everyday were followed by top-class stage presentations  by troupes from various parts of the state.

Yet another milestone was marked when  Avishkar Kala Kendra, established in memory of the famous harmonist  Kottaram Sankunni Nair,  chose  CSK  as venue  for  Avishkar Kalolsavam  in celebration of  its anniversary. It was a three-day affair in which  dancers and musicians  of repute featured.

In 2009 CSK set up an endowment in memory of the distinguished musician Neyyattinkara Vasudevan. Income from the endowment  is to  be used to give an award to a deserving  musician on the death anniversary of Neyyattinkara every year. The award function would be followed by a musical recital.

Another endowment to perpetuate the memory of  the illustrious kathakali musician  Sankaran Empranthiri who passed away  in 2009   has been proposed.

The idea  behind  such gestures is that no great artistes  who regaled and enriched  our life  with their  divine music or dance or any other art form  when they were alive should go  unmourned and unhonoured. It is a  debt we owe them.

In 2009 CSK made  a quantum jump in class  when it added  a second modern stage to its substantial assets, thanks to the munificence of its numerous well-wishers. Few other institutions  can claim  this distinction of having two stages—one open air and the other with a roof.  But CSK is fully conscious of its debt to the community– all the facilities at its disposal, including  the two stages,  lighting gear  for special effects, sound systems,  stand-by generator, 700 odd chairs  etc.  are  for anybody  who needs them. CSK considers them as the commonwealth of the  community  and the community can use them.