Patronage goes beyond philanthropy. At its core, it is an unwavering belief in the inherent value of artistic expression.
Indian classical arts are one of the richest cultural traditions in the world
They are also one of the most under-resourced
A look at the infrastructure for classical dance and music in the West is revealing. Every major city across the United States is home to a major ballet company, symphony, and opera. These institutions are supported by major endowments that ensure a viable future for art in America. These endowments, supported by individual patrons who firmly believe in the inherent value of classical art, reflect the value society places on these art forms. An equivalent milieu of arts organizations does not exist for Indian classical dance and music; artists in these fields need to operate independently, without institutional support. Take a look at a snapshot of some arts endowments in the U.S. For comparison, the endowments of two major Indian national arts institutes – Kathak Kendra and Sangeet Natak Akademi – are provided.
San Francisco Symphony
Los Angeles Philharmonic
New York City Ballet
San Francisco Ballet
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Los Angeles Opera
Sangeet Natak Akademi
The financial infrastructure for Indian classical art
trails far behind that for classical art in the West
No place is this more evident than in the salaries available to classical dancers and musicians in the West. Salaries for ballet dancers, musicians and artistic directors at major dance companies and symphonies in the U.S can range from $50K to $2 million and beyond. Data on income for Indian classical artists is unavailable. Yet we know that there are no institutions that provide regular salary support for Indian classical musicians and dancers. As a result these artists must be self-supporting, relying on teaching income and performance fees to earn a living. At Leela, we are committed to providing artists and educators with the financial and salary support they need. Salary and pay for artists and educators at Leela are provided in the chart below (information sourced from guidestar.org and glassdoor.com).
Why Supporting the Arts Matters
The Arts Are Knowledge Traditions
India’s spiritual, philosophical, and cultural truths are embedded in these artistic traditions. Without support, these traditions are in danger of being diluted, distorted, or lost entirely.
Artists are Cultural Ambassadors
Artists are ambassadors who create a forum for cultural celebration and exchange, bridging divides across race, nationality, religion and gender, and bringing people together.
Arts Education is Essential
Arts education facilitates the development of intellectual risk taking, critical and creative thinking and problem solving, and social skills such as collaboration and communication.
The Arts Build Community
Dance and music create avenues for people to share experiences that are central to their identity, foster community pride, facilitate cultural exchange and strengthen communal bonds.
The Leela Foundation
In 2016, Leela launched a campaign to establish The Leela Foundation, the first United States-based endowment for North Indian artistic and cultural heritage. The Leela Foundation aims to build the financial infrastructure necessary for kathak dance and Hindustani classical music to thrive for generations to come, through direct funding for artists in the form of salary support, fellowships, awards, and artist residencies. In September 2023, Leela reached its initial goal of $1 Million for the foundation thanks to the support of a generous community of donors and patrons. We envision growing the endowment over the next three years to $10 million through major gifts and bequests so that we can have far-reaching and long-lasting impact on the field of Indian classical dance and music.
Browse our list of Individual Patrons