The Oriental Fine Arts Academy of London (OFAAL) is Europe’s leading examination board for the traditional South Indian Fine Arts. With over twenty-five centres across Europe offering examinations in subjects ranging from Miruthangam to Bharathanatyam. OFAAL offers students of all ages the opportunity to formalise their learning through preparing for and gaining recognised qualifications. Through a structured programme of study, OFAAL guides pupils through the elementary stages of a fine-arts education, taking them through to a stage where they are fully qualified to teach their art to the next generation.
OFAAL was formed in 1990, beginning with a very small number of candidates sitting examinations in Bharathanatyam, Vocal, Veena, Flute, Miruthangam and Violin. Since then, the examinations have grown, with ever increasing number of candidates taking exams and opening of new centres each year.
OFAAL was registered as a charity organisation in 2004 and first set of accounts submitted to Charity
Commission for the period ended 31 March 2005. Please see the details here . You can see from this link that whilst OFAAL only made a surplus of £ 24,041, OFAAL balance sheets for the same period showed a bank balance of £128,411. These were the accumulated funds of OFAAL when it was appointed and functioned as an examination committee of West London Tamil School. OFAAL expanded into Europe where we opened our first European centre in Germany. By 2001, the number of candidates sitting OFAAL examinations in the UK had become so large, over 2000, that it became necessary to conduct the examinations on two different days, in order to maintain the professionalism and smooth-running efficiency that characterises OFAAL so uniquely. That year the theory examinations were held a month before the practical examinations, which had added benefits for students too, in that they were able to be better prepared for their respective examinations. By 2005, OFAAL had grown even more, and the decision was made to offer two examination sessions. The exam board now offers students the opportunity to sit their exams in either April or September, thus alleviating pressure off students due to sit GCSE (O/L) or A Level exams in May. Despite other examination boards emerging around London, OFAAL has retained its position as the premier exam
OFAAL offers fine-arts students the opportunity to take both practical and theory examinations in their respective subjects, a product of the belief that practical instruction in the fine arts is enriched with, (and arguably, is somewhat worthless without) an appreciation of the theoretical side of one’s subject. Practical examinations start at a very basic level, allowing new students to ease themselves in to their first examinations; by the time a student reaches Grade 8 (Diploma) standard, he / she is expected to be completely versatile and fluent with his / her instrument / dance. A typical grade one syllabus for instruments requires knowledge of rudimentary musical exercises, Swara Varisaikal and Dattu Varisaikal. However for the diploma examination candidates are expected to, amongst other things, play two Pancharatna Krithis, perform improvisations and to demonstrate their abilities in teaching.
OFAAL has remained at the forefront of its field, maintaining high standards by having only qualified examiners. In line with this commitment to maintaining professional and high standards, OFAAL introduced a new qualification in 2006, the Post -Diploma, which serves as a higher qualification than the previous highest qualification, the Diploma. Only a handful of candidates have sat this demanding exam, the practical of which is examined by a panel including the Chief Examiner, and the theoretical side of which requires candidates to research, submit and present before an audience a 5,000 word dissertation on a subject related to their chosen fine-art.