Pragati, meaning progress in Sanskrit, is The Leela Institute’s fundraising initiative launched in 2015 with the aim of establishing the first ever self-standing endowment for India’s artistic traditions. The initiative aims to raise $2 million that will provide artists with the support they need to train future generations of artists, and establish India’s artistic traditions on the world stage.
The pandemic’s impact on artists and arts organizations has been stark and devastating, making the need for a sustainable financial infrastructure for art glaringly evident. We are committed now more than ever to generating support for art and artists and doing whatever we can to share our music and dance with the world. In this spirit we are excited to invite you to our first virtual gala.
Make a pre-gala contribution
Songs of Kabir with Saili Oak
Songs of Kabir with renowned vocalist Saili Oak celebrates Kabir’s legacy and features renditions of some of his most popular verses and poems. Saili artfully weaves together history, narrative, verse and music taking audiences on a journey through one of India’s most formative eras.
For over five hundred years, Kabir’s poetry has been remembered, recited and sung throughout North India and beyond. One of India’s most renowned poet-saints, Kabir was at the heart of India’s bhakti movement during the 15th century and preached unconditional devotion to god and a realization of divinity in oneself and in the mundane. Kabir’s works inspired and influenced followers from all walks of life and various religious traditions including Hinduism, Sufism and Sikhism. Today, Kabir’s poems are studied and taught in academic and spiritual circles and his wisdom popularly invoked through semi-classical and contemporary music.
About Saili Oak
A native of Mumbai, Saili Oak began studying music at the age of 3. Saili is a senior disciple of Dr. Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, a leading vocalist of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana. Saili completed her Sangeet Visharad from the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal and has earned numerous awards including the prestigious Pt. Jasraj Yuva Award, Pt. Vasantrao Deshpande Yuva Award, and the Gaanwardhan Award. Her performances have been admired for her meticulous architecture of khayal, her systematic and well-crafted raga exploration and impressive command over laya. Saili is also known for her distinguished work in the Indian/Western Classical music crossover space, having performed with Albany Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Tonality choir, and Salastina Music Society. She has been featured on several albums including Beyond, American Mirror, Sing About It, and KALA. A passionate educator, Saili trains the next generation of upcoming artists, and is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences and universities across America.
About the Leela Endowment
A look at the infrastructure for classical dance and music in the West is instructive. Major cities across the United States boast acclaimed ballet companies, symphonies and operas, each supported by a large endowment and a strong community of donors. These endowments are a direct reflection of the value a community has placed on its artistic and cultural heritage. In stark contrast, while there are hundreds of Indian classical dance and music schools around the world, none of these are supported by a sustainable financial infrastructure. India’s national dance and music institutes, although supported by financial trusts, provide meager support and pale in comparison to the need in the field. The Leela Endowment is the first and only self-standing endowment for Indian classical dance and music. The goal of the endowment is to ultimately provide direct financial support to artists that are serving as tradition bearers and cultural ambassadors. The Leela Endowment is a joint initiative of The Leela Institute and the Chhandam School of Kathak.
Harkishan and Kusum Vasa | Dinesh and Shaila Mehta | Ronda Berkeley and Mel Green | Dinker and Aruna Shah | Nitin and Kinna Shah |
Swamy Venuturupalli and Rita Singhal | Trina Chaudhuri and Chirag Patel | Anna Cross and Gar Culbert