Big Cities can mean Big Bureaucracy
1992 Mumbai, India
Mumbai is one of India’s largest cities and is often compared to New York because of its cosmopolitan nature. On the one hand, it was a great honor for the company to be presented at the NCPA – the closest thing that India has to a Lincoln Center or Kennedy Center. On the other hand, BDC Director (Jonathan Hollander) found humiliating that he was unable to get validation in the form of artistic recognition from the U.S. Government even though he was in India as a Fulbright Lecturer.
The story was this: India’s international cultural body, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations or ICCR, agreed to present Battery Dance Company at the NCPA and to make the Centre one of my host institutions (extending rehearsal rooms for our master classes and a small hall for a BDC lecture-demonstration before their big show.) The local ICCR representative generously offered to split the cost of hotel accommodations for the Company for the duration of their stay in Mumbai if the U.S. Consulate would ante up the other half. Apparently this was their usual procedure when working with foreign groups. Hollander hadn’t yet established his artistic bonafides with the USG, and when he met with the Cultural Affairs officer in Mumbai to ask her to match the Indian Government’s offer (which would have amounted to less than $1,000) she turned him down flat. Thus BDC had a biblical half-a-hotel-room and had to rely on the good will of local friends and colleagues to cover the expense of a YMCA.
The companies review in one of the most important newspapers in town was a rave, and gave the company a little gratification in the nature of “I told you so”…