Sangeet Natak Akademi, the apex body in the field of performing arts in the country, was set up in 1953 for the preservation and promotion of the vast intangible heritage of India’s diverse culture expressed in forms of music, dance and drama. The management of the Akademi vests in its General Council. The Chairman of the Akademi is appointed by the President of India for a term of five years. The functions of the Akademi are set down in the Akademi’s Memorandum of Association, adopted at its registration as a society on 11 September 1961. The registered office of the Akademi is at Rabindra Bhavan, 35 Feroze Shah Road, New Delhi. Sangeet Natak Akademi is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
Sangeet Natak Akademi now has three constituent units, two of these being dance-teaching institutions: the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy (JNMDA) at Imphal, and Kathak Kendra in Delhi. JNMDA has its origin in the Manipur Dance College established by the Government of India in April 1954. Funded by the Akademi since its inception, it became a constituent unit of the Akademi in 1957. Similarly Kathak Kendra is one of the leading teaching institutions in Kathak dance. Located in Delhi, it offers courses at various levels in Kathak dance and in vocal music and Pakhawaj.
Besides the constituent units, the Akademi presently has five centres:
1. Kutiyattam Kendra, Thiruvananthapuram for preserving and promoting the age-old Sanskrit theatre of Kerala, Kutiyattam.
2. Sattriya Kendra, Guwahati for promoting the Sattriya traditions of Assam.
3. North-East Centre, Guwahati for preserving the traditional and folk performing art traditions of north-eastern India.
4. North-East Documentation Centre, Agartala for festival and field documentation in the North-east.
5. Chhau Kendra, Chandankiyari for promoting the Chhau Dances of eastern India
The Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards are the highest national recognition conferred on practising artists. The Akademi also confers Fellowships on eminent artists and scholars of music, dance and drama; and has in 2006 instituted annual awards to young artists – the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar. The Akademi’s archive, comprising audio and video tapes, photographs, and films is one of the largest in the country and is extensively drawn upon for research in the performing arts.