Jyoti Roy's task is to defy time. She spends her day lifting old, priceless and ageless materials, shaking off their layers of dust and restoring them to their original splendour. As an art conservator at INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Heritage), Joyoti had been working for a few years on this when she realized she wanted to look at better conservation and preservation treatments available for acrylics. Art conservation as a career, however, is still new in India. It was then that she turned to the Charles Wallace India Trust (CWIT). FAST FACTFor: Artists, Professionals, Writers, Academics, Journalists Website: https://www.britishcouncil.org/india-scholarships-cwit.htm Last Date: Depends on programme. Selection Process: Applications are submitted with research proposals. Shortlisted applicants are interviewed. The Trust is one of the rare funding bodies, which encourages original research in the finer arts of life: theatres, art, writing and a host of other creative arts. The CWIT fulfilled her ambitions under the fully funded award for art conservation. Joyoti spent three months at Tate Britain, London for her internship on the conservation of contemporary paintings. Working at Tate, which is one of the most visited art galleries in the world, fuelled Joyoti's passion further in conservation and also brought about vital changes in her professional life. Whether it is for a mid-career or a young professional, the CWIT is a great way for acquiring exposure and expertise in the field.
What's on offer and how to get itThe CWIT has a number of funded programmes on offer (see table). They vary between three months and year and between disciplines. They vary between being fully funded or partly funded and they also vary between disciplines. There are programmes on journalism, on writing, heritage conservation, South Asian studies etc. The programmes on offer are niche ones, clearly designed for someone interested in that specific area of study. And there is a reason for that. The CWIT is clear about how it sifts candidates: they look for passion, commitment and a clear idea about what you want to do. Drafting a Statement of Purpose (SoP) is then not about writing about yourself in pretty words. You need to be clear about what and how you are going to do it. The CWIT does mention that work experience bears a factor on the success of your application. The Trust is in fact, designed to help mid-career professionals to expand their horizons and learn something different and new. Swati Pal who completed her PhD in theatre and has received CWIT support twice, points out that often the deciding factor is not work or research experience but the sincerity of the scholar and the legitimacy of the research proposal. The panel examines how far it would contribute to the growth of knowledge in that particular area.Vikas Dilawari who was a CWIT scholar and is now on the interview panel for heritage conservation states clearly what the trust looks for. He points out that the scholarship aims to select the person who has a zeal and commitment towards conservation and this is gauged from: his/her background, academically as well as professionally the course or scholarship he/she is applying for and from letter of intent what the person intends to do after the course. The panel reviews this by seeing the presentation and asking questions.Swati advises on how to make a clincher of a proposal. If the scholar could show evidence of having built up contacts and a clear plan of action, it underlines the seriousness of the scholar's intent. Also, the attitude of the scholar matters. The proposal must convey his or her dedication in the pursuit of the subject along with conviction in the proposal. The attraction for CWIT is much more than financial aid for higher studies in the UK. Joyoti points out that more than the financial aid it's a matter of prestige and honour and people in India also understand that. The money is rarely the attraction for prospective applicants. CWIT also encourages really original ideas and is willing to take on something never been worked upon before.
Unplugging creativity Scholars, artists and academics turn to the CWIT because it's sensitive to the needs of creative people. Writers for example, love the fellowship of up to three months which the CWIT offers. Parismita Singh who was at the University of Kent under the Writer's Fellowship and is a graphic novelist likes to call it a "gift of time". She explains, "A fellowship is great for someone writing a book, as most people balance a day job or other commitments while writing, and a fellowship gives you a chance to get away and concentrate solely on your work for a few weeks. You have a choice of interacting with people in the campus, and sitting in on a talk or a lecture, or you can just sit and write. These can be ideal conditions to finish a book, or even begin one." Parismita had already published her graphic novel, The Hotel at the End of the World (Penguin, 2009). Her time at Kent helped formalize her thoughts for her next work, an anthology.
Funding your future The research grants of up to 1,000 pounds towards costs in the UK can be a little inadequate given the high expenses there. Successful scholars therefore pad up their funding through other means. Having been a CWIT twice, Swati Pal is now quite an expert on how to manage with limited funds. She says, "It's a good idea to combine the CWIT funding with some other scholarship." When she went to participate in the community theatre conference hosted by the University of Exeter, she managed a UGC scholarship as well. And when she was funded in 1997 to present a paper at Oxford University, she stayed with friends, to cut down on costs. Finally, the CWIT opens up many doors, not just in the UK. It's a way of making international connections and having a great platform to share your intellect with experienced professionals who have been working in the field. And finally, it's a thumbs up for your expertise in the field.
Programmes available Fully-funded awards in arts and conservation: Ten of these are on offer, and the only awards which are fully funded. They are strictly for specialists of arts and conservation with the objective of international exposure for students in this field. The Trust encourages applicants who have worked for a while and frequently professionals also apply. There are also short term internships at various places such as the Tate Conservation Department.
Professonal pacement award This award in Museology - Curating, Museum Conservation or Archaeology is in collaboration with the Nehru Trust for the India Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This is an annual fellowship for a curator, museum conservator or archaeologist to take up an attachment at the Victoria and Albert Museum or any other institute.
Visiting fellowships: These are for Indian academics, translators and writers to spend three months at a specific university in the UK.
Writer Fellowship at University of Kent, Department of English: Three months' Writer Fellowship at University of Stirling, Centre of Commonwealth Studies.
Translator Fellowships, British Centre for Literary Translation, University of East Anglia: Generally two awarded, both usually from January to March i.e. two months. There is now no upper age limit for Translator Fellowships. Iqbal Sarin Visiting Fellowship in Journalism. Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies - Three months. (Focussed, specially on mid career journalists specialising in aspects of culture in social life.Short research or professional visits: Applicants interested in post-doctoral studies are preferred. There are 10-15 such grants for academic research scholars and professionals. Grants for doctoral studies: These are for Indians pursuing doctoral studies at UK universities who are in their penultimate or final year. Three or four grants are given every year. So if you are an art expert or a conservation specialist or just interested in culture, CWIT is the place to go.
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