Avid Learning, where I serve as CEO is the cultural philanthropy arm of the Essar Group and was founded in 2009 with the aim of promoting and showcasing the best of India’s vibrant arts and culture ecosystem. Over the past decade, we have grown into one of Mumbai’s leading public programming platforms and have firmly cemented our place in the country’s wider cultural landscape.
Our thoughtfully curated and diverse events embrace the spirit of collaboration to bring together the best of the Indian and international arts community across the verticals of Visual Art, Literature, Culture and Heritage, Education, Design & Technology and the Performing Arts through engaging and diverse formats ranging from panel discussions and workshops to festival platforms, symposiums and multidisciplinary performances.
Since our inception, we have conducted over 1150 programs and connected with more than 140,000 individuals across major metropolises like Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore, Goa and Gujarat, and have also made our mark internationally, with events and collaborations in Dubai and New York.
I took over as CEO of AVID in 2011 and brought to the table my 17-year experience in the advertising and publishing world, as well as my vision of developing and enhancing the untapped potential of Mumbai’s rich art and culture scene. It is with this vision in mind that I have strategically built the organization into the cultural entity it is today.
As the world grapples with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, many verticals including the arts and culture have moved to the digital space due to the current situation. I have always been a major proponent of technology and digital platforms and am strong believer that they have an integral role to play with respect to the future of arts consumption and engagement.
AVID has also always supported and pushed the envelope with topics and content related to technology and innovation, and this unique period that we are all living through has given us this opportunity to innovate with our own online platforms and bring the best of art and cultural content, uninterrupted, to our audiences.
This belief in tandem with our credo of Learning Never Stops, has galvanized us to launch our digital avatar, AVID Online – in April 2020 – on our social media platforms. I wanted us to evolve with these times into a platform where our followers could continue to engage with the arts. I’d like to think this campaign keeps members of the creative community connected and facilitates interaction and exchange of ideas between our audiences and AVID experts. To date, we have presented over 50 engaging episodes (and counting) under this campaign and continue to showcase the best of arts and culture online.
AVID Online is an evolution in our program channels and offerings, created in this time of social distancing. Seeing that there is an uncertainty in the future of live events and programming, we have tried to rapidly innovate with our own online platforms and adapt to digital mediums in order to continue to bring quality content to our audiences and community while increasing our regional presence and global reach through social media.
Embracing the Spirit of Sustainability through our platform
We live in a time when sustainability is a buzzword on everyone’s lips as we wake up to the reality that a fundamental shift is required in almost all aspects of how we live. Environmental activism is gaining credence, visibility and traction as we make way for a paradigm shift in how we live, what we care about and what kind of world we create (or recreate) for the future.
I also strongly believe in the power of the arts to impact change; and as environmental concerns continue to grow worldwide, we at AVID find it imperative to shed some light on such issues and leverage our platform to educate and spread awareness by communicating through the arts. In this respect, we launched Sustainability NOW, a series of targeted online episodes aimed at converting audiences into change makers and active catalysts and custodians of a greener future. Since collaborations have always been a major part of our philosophy, we have endeavoured to further develop and strengthen our existing partnerships with premier cultural institutions. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) – who share our concerns on this topic – have partnered with us for this series.
Our close collaborator and Director General, CSMVS, Sabyasachi Mukherjee says, “The effect of climate change is visible as year on year temperatures are increasing. Rather than complaining about the deep wound that emissions have already created on the planet, we decided to switch over to alternate forms of renewable energy by adopting solar power, this is important for sustainability and hence this series to share our concerns with the public.”
Under the banner of Sustainability NOW, we have curated a week of robust programming – dedicated to World Environment Day 2020 – celebrating the champions of sustainability and environmental activism. Showcased as Environment Week at AVID Online, these exciting seven days will be centred around the topic of sustainability and will consist of pre-recorded AVID Online episodes as well as our first-ever live online panel discussion and masterclass, featuring leading experts from the fields of art, architecture, design, dance, fashion and film.
During the course of this week, we will present engaging AVID Online episodes featuring the likes of Creative and Design Consultant/Stylist Ekta Rajani, Product Designer and Animator Shashank Nimkar, Industrial Designer Malvika Vaswani, Independent Filmmaker Priya Thuvassery and Dancer and Choreographer Revanta Sarabhai leading up to World Environment Day 2020. These sessions will touch upon topics such as the emergence of slow fashion and future trends in the industry, the importance and benefits of recycling and upcycling waste and the development of eco-friendly materials, as well as, the role of the arts in spreading awareness about environmental degradation.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, we will present Sustainability NOW: Architecture + Urbanism – a panel discussion that explores the concepts of sustainable architecture and urban design while uncovering the systems and practices adopted by professionals in the industry that are carving out pathways to a more sustainable future and current reality.
This live virtual discussion will feature – Architect and Creative Head, Mozaic Dean D’Cruz, Urbanologist and Co-Founder, URBZ Matias Echanove and Eco-Architect Trupti Doshi in conversation with Author, Architectural Journalist, Curator and Editor Apurva Bose Dutta and will look at how we can improve our building and construction processes and approaches as well as our living styles and habits in order to ensure a sustainable existence. This will be followed by AVID’s Eco Reel – Sustainability NOW: Creating Change for a Greener Future – a short film celebrating the champions of sustainability.
To culminate this week of exciting programmes, we will present a live masterclass – Sustainability NOW: The Future of Textiles with Lifestyle Journalist and Sustainability Activist Bandana Tewari – which will look at emerging trends, initiatives and best practices in the textile space as well as analyse future trajectories for the fashion industry as a whole.
With all the changes and shifts occurring in the world at this time, I believe that it is critical to keep the conversation on sustainability alive and ongoing now more than ever. We are at the brink of a crucial and seismic shift and we believe that the arts have the power to leverage conversations toward cultural changes around this topic and successfully usher in and showcase the spirit of sustainability.
Environment Week @ AVID Online will consist of the following sessions and episodes:
Sunday, 31st May | 7:00 PM – Sustainability NOW: The Future of Fashion with Ekta Rajani
Monday, 1st June | 7:00 PM – Sustainability NOW: Ecoceramics with Shashank Nimkar
Tuesday, 2nd June | 7:00 PM – REPLAY | Sustainability NOW: Innovations in Jewellery Design with Malvika Vaswani
Wednesday, 3rd June | 7:00 PM – Sustainability NOW: ‘Coral Woman’ and Film for Change with Priya Thuvassery
Thursday, 4th June | 7:00 PM – REPLAY | Sustainability NOW: Stories through Bharatanatyam Dance with Revanta Sarabhai
Friday, 5th June | 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM – (Live) Panel Discussion | Sustainability NOW: Architecture + Urbanism with Dean D’Cruz, Matias Echanove, Trupti Doshi and Apurva Bose Dutta
Friday, 5th June | 7:00 PM – Sustainability NOW: Creating Change for a Greener Future
Saturday, 6th June | 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – (Live) Masterclass | Sustainability NOW: The Future of Textiles with Bandana Tewari
Source: India CSR