The International Institute for Art, Culture and Democracy (IIACD) is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit research institute. It was founded in 2008 by a multidisciplinary group of academics and practitioners with collective expertise in healthcare, education, management, design, new media arts, technology, folklore, cultural anthropology, traditional arts and crafts, vernacular architecture, cultural heritage, conservation and tourism studies. IIACD has two interdisciplinary centres: Centre for Cultural Heritage and Tourism Studies (CHATS) and Centre for Health Ecologies and Technology (CHET).
The Centre for Cultural Heritage and Tourism Studies (CHATS) was founded in 2008. It supports the rights of indigenous communities and other culture bearers to sustain and benefit from their arts and other living heritage expressions and practices. It seeks to foster democratic policies and practices of cultural heritage conservation and tourism and ensure that local communities remain key decision makers in conservation and tourism development. The goal of its interdisciplinary Heritage Arts Initiative (HAI) and the Heritage and Youth (HAY) outreach programme is to preserve the heritage of South India and to foster cultural democracy for all. They enable communities to create greater respect for, sustain and benefit from their indigenous arts and crafts, folklore, traditional healing practices and other aspects of their tangible and intangible heritage. HAI’s art and cultural researchers and practitioners collaborate with artists, art historians, folklorists, filmmakers, designers and technologists from IIACD and other institutes in the Department of Science and Technology’s (GOI) Indian Digital Heritage project on Hampi. The representation, organization and investigation of knowledge-bearing artifacts documented and annotated in this project are enabled by multi-disciplinary methodologies of digital humanities.
Founded in 2009, the focus of the Centre for Health Ecologies and Technology (CHET) is on affordable and effective healthcare for people with Autism, other neglected or rare diseases, mental health problems and other disadvantaged populations in rural and urban areas. The Medical Humanities and Bioethics Initiative (MHBI) is a multidisciplinary programme that seeks to research, document and promote inclusive and democratic policies and practices that facilitate patients’ choice and control over their healthcare. MHBI's goal is to humanize healthcare policy and practice in India. The Autism and Rare Disease Awareness (ARDA) outreach programme of CHET helps generate awareness through workshops, exhibitions and other activities that support patient communities. To promote awareness of rare diseases and conditions, MHBI and ARDA researchers document personal experiences of patients through innovative use of the arts, media and technologies. The research team includes patients. MHBI researchers and technologists work with patients and other experts in co-creating large databases that can be accessed by patients, doctors, and other key stakeholders to facilitate effective and affordable healthcare. MHBI’s advocacy team aids in building the collective strength of patients communities to lobby for and change healthcare policies and practices in their favour.
Both centres aim to democratize peoples’ access to information and enable them to become active participants and informed decision makers. The research and advocacy programmes and other activities in these centres remain consistent with the values and long term goals of the founders of the institute.