The Impact of COVID-19 on the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra and the Way Forward for Resilience

Gurucharan Colleg, India

Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra is conceived as a grand exposition of the life and culture of the People of Assam and North East India. It is named after the great unifier of Assam who preached the message of unity in diversity, and sang the song of glorious Bharata-Varsha (India) and universal brotherhood in the 15th century. The Kalakshetra is divided into several complexes that includes an Open Air Theatre, Heritage Park, Ethnographic & Heritage Museum, Portrait Gallery, Central Museum, and Library. Insitutional activities include the preservation and restoration of historical monuments, research, and the promotion and development of the rich cultural heritage of the diverse ethnic communities inhabiting the state of Assam (India). Drawing on information from visitors to Kalakshetra, this paper highlights the prevailing situation of uncertainty in Assam with regard to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning of indoor venues of cultural interest, with a focus on museums. It highlights issues such as whether, people have missed the opportunity to visit museums in their daily lives during the pandemic, how they responded to museums during the lockdown, and ultimately, what their expectations of a ‘museum’ are now and into the future. It also addresses some of the concerns visitors have regarding the ‘new normal’ impacting in-person visits to museums, and discusses their attitudes towards digital visits in lieu of their physical presence.